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2011 NBA Draft: Welcome To The Crucible, Where Contenders Are Forged

No blade is ready for battle before it's tempered, and there's been so little competition while the team clears the old guard out that the word 'entitlement' has crept in when discussing our youth.  No more, the 2011 NBA Draft begins the John Wall era in earnest.  Say hello to 'The Crucible.'  How does it feel to be playing with a full deck, Wizards fans?  If the team brings back everyone they're aiming to bring back, they're two deep or more at every position! 

And what does that mean?  With the selections of Jan Vesely, Chris Singleton and Shelvin Mack, these are all young guys, hungry and high-character.  Tough, athletic players who attended the Gilbert Arenas correspondence school of swag.  Let's break it down by position.

PG: Never fear, John Wall gets his minutes.  But we'd rather he got his rest as well.  Time to reassess, catch his breath, return in attack and facilitate mode.  The battle here is between Mack and Jordan Crawford, which seems kind of silly when one is a ball-dominant SG and the other is an off-ball PG.  But with Nick Young ensconced at SG, here we are.


SG: This is Nick Young's job to lose.  With both JC and NY being streaky shooters, the simple question of whose defense is more effective on a particular day may swing the needle one way or la otra.  Nick's man defense is superior, while Jordan's energy defense seems to make up for his shortcomings in this department.  And Othyus Jeffers to boot?  I'm in heaven.

SF:  Wasn't this a crucial FA need yesterday morning?  No matter.  With Vesely, Singleton, and Trevor Booker all looking for minutes here (with Larry Owens out to get his own spot), I realize it never occurred to me when I asked whether we were re-signing Josh Howard, Maurice Evans or Cartier Martin that the answer could be 'none of the above.'

PF: With a sudden logjam at SF, last year's fan favorite Trevor Booker is going to push that much harder for playing time.  With Rashard Lewis coming off knee surgery and embattled Andray Blatche looking to rehabilitate his image with a heavy dose of 'basketball-first', here's another battle of the young and hungry to keep an eye on.

C: Competition seems lightest here.  Javale McGee has come through the nightmare valley of trade rumors looking fairly bulletproof, and Hamady N'Diaye is still lightyears away.  The dark horse here is Kevin Seraphin, and yes, he's at Center because he plays like one, even if he is undersized.  Last year's Bismack Biyombo showed up out of shape and suffered the consequences all year, expect to see much more out of him.

There are some fairly major caveats here.  Young has to come back.  Blatche and Seraphin must show up cut and ready to bang.  If they do?  Smells like team spirit, come as we want you to be.

You will bring about the destruction of the [Miami] war machine, the elimination of [front-runner] tyranny over the oppressed [fans] of [small-market teams], and security for [the integrity of basketball] in a free world. Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy [has endorsements for his underwear], [an entourage], and [always plays on network television]. He will [flop] savagely....the [Washington Wizards] are marching together to victory. I have full confidence in your [swag], devotion to [defense], and [numbness of your facial regions]. We will accept nothing less than [Finals champion]. Good luck, and let us all beseech the blessings of [David Stern] upon this great and noble undertaking.

You all know I can't resist theatrics anymore than an agility-challenged child can resist a piece of cake.  But I suspect most of you are feeling the same way.  We watched Ernie Grunfeld pick the guys we're counting on to put their hands on the frame and pry open a championship window.  It's an agonized hope and belief because it really could happen in our lifetime.  While using a word like lifetime sounds melodramatic at first, think about it for a second, then maybe it doesn't sound quite so crazy.

What is certain is that we'll have to plow our way through the top heavy Eastern Conference and Western Conference Champion to reach the promised land.  The funny thing is that we're getting ready to believe we are ready to climb that mountain, which means we leave the protected fan reserve of the perennial loser.  To translate loosely, Bullets fans: sharpen your trash talk and put on your thick skin; relevance, here we come.