I don't think anyone will argue this year's draft is a vast improvement over last year's draft. But I have to say that I can't compare our situation to Oklahoma City's for a couple of reasons, and calling out Grunfeld for missing some definite opportunities requiries a closer look at the current philosophies of both teams based on where they are in the building process. More after the jump.
A brief, germane digression: having been a corporate sales wage-slave for a number of years, I can tell you this. When you receive an objective, you make damn sure you achieve it. In a game of high speed, high stakes chicken like the NBA draft, you've got to achieve it before anyone else.
What you have a harder time doing is questioning the objective in the first place. A lot of time and discussion went on at the highest levels, and nobody wants to go back to the drawing board. I think Flip wanted Hinrich, and as I said before, who better to mentor the next Derrick Rose than the guy who mentored Derrick Rose? Grunfeld saw a lot of young players that needed time to mature and could be part of a midseason trade with Hinrich's large, expiring deal NEXT year.
I think with the ill-famed Booker trade there was a run on hard-nosed power forwards touched off by our own trade with Chicago. Seraphin went a little higher than everyone expected, which bumped up every PF prospect on the charts, likely INCLUDING Booker. I'm not going to cry because we didn't draft Whiteside or Alabi because I think EG HAD to have Booker, and he was not going to be available at #30 anymore. Add in Cleveland clawing for a first round draft pick while being reportedly interested in Booker (which would free up Hickson as a piece for a play at Chris Paul) and while it's still a stretch, it's a little more plausible.
I saw a great comparison to the effect that Grunfeld is to Presti as a Ford is to a Benz. Any time I can see the tail lights when I usually end up choking in the mud, I, am, stoked.
Could we have done better with what we had? Yes. But this is perhaps EG's finest showing as GM (can hardly believe I'm writing that) because it reflects a PLAN rather than simply a good move a la Brown for Butler.
This leads in nicely where Washington's philosophy (we have one, now, woot!) differs versus Oklahoma City. OKC is one to two pieces away from being a Finals contender. So they (Presti) were their typical genius selves and made the best moves possible. Fairly indisputable, so I'll leave that alone.
But as to our philosophy, we are in an accelerated rebuilding, that despite its speed is still in its infancy. Durant is ready to take names while winning scoring championships. Wall needs some time (unless he sets the world on fire, in which case, look out). With half the NBA fans out there laughing about how Wall will have four years of drudgery before he can get to a real team, Wizards brass put themselves in Wall's shoes, looked to the front court and saw Andray Blatche. After all his shenanigans (burning the team on the court the same day they launched his MIP campaign had to have been foremost on their minds), this could not have inspired a lot of confidence. Wall probably began to feel pretty lonely in the back court with a rehabbed superstar everyone knows is on the trading block. The last thing they want him to think is 'just four years', so...
What became a priority? This is more obvious than any other draft supposition in hindsight. Young, hungry players bringing their A is for Angry game. Seraphin is huge because Wall remembers him. We'll assume Beasley was a deal breaker with Miami, Washington wants to pursue Childress, and we'll be able to trade a beer for Beasley if we strike out and Ted caves on his character policy. The beer won't even have to be warm. Looking at Chicago, hey, we get the one player in the NBA on the trading block who personally tutored a high level PG. Hey, we get the guy Wall remembers well, a ferocious finisher and tough defender. And three million cash. Within the plan. The reasons I like this trade are here.
Next on the list is Booker, not Pondexter. In this scenario, Booker is the angry PF they want. Pondexter is the TAD SF they don't want or need if they are planning on swinging for the fences with Childress, and a capable backup in Thornton. So, the Wiz just pushed the market on angry PFs and that means Booker probably isn't available at #30. Options just became limited. Maybe they just learned a Dallas team worried about their star PF leaving just bought the #25. Wiz don't want to move that three million they just received since that offsets Hinrich's salary, most likely. So they make a cap neutral move, moving up in the first, down in the second still getting their man. And I'm not prepared to hang EG over Whiteside/Varnado versus N'Diaye, especially with Parakhouski undrafted.
Love 'em or hate 'em, those are the moves. As Denzel Washington says in Training Day, "This shit's chess. It ain't checkers." You don't just change your plan in the middle of the game, and we stuck to our guns. Teams that are too quick to the trigger usually end up as the goat. We didn't have the best plan, but we had a good one. We executed, made our play, and got what we wanted. A starting quality PG and mentor with a too big contract mitigated by trade value next year, a 33% off coupon THIS year, and a pick that helps show the guy we're all counting on that DC is where he wants to be. Achieving that pushed the market a bit on our other player objective, and we lost twenty one spots in the second round to get him.
Truth be told, the wisdom of these moves depend heavily on what other moves the Wiz make. If we bring in Childress (assuming Atlanta doesn't overpay, crossed fingers), I will be a happy man. Everyone has their own opinion on this, these trades and risks are too polarizing not to. But while Ernie isn't Sam Presti, he sure as heck ain't David Kahn, and I'll sleep sound for the first time since we traded the #5. And since we have Wall after making that decision, I'm willing to give Grunny a clean slate. Of course we lucked into it, but as with every other NBA fan, I'm a great fan of luck.