Tension ending in merciful anticlimax is not an experience Wizards fans know well. Anthony Davis' selection was no surprise. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist makes plenty of sense ... but the Bobcats have so many holes that pretty much any pick made sense. MKG's limited offense should guarantee plenty of possessions for Ben Gordon and a ticket back to the top of the lottery while Charlotte's new coach and franchise player attempt to transform the franchise. But for the Wizards, far more than many of us here at Bullets Forever would have liked, the draft was all about the No. 3 pick.
It may take a good while, months or even years, for the whole story behind what happened with the Bobcats' trade-down opportunities to come out. For all the pre-draft rumors and intrigue, there was nary a ripple of movement once the draft was underway until the first round was in the books. Everything hinged on the Bobcats' play; no one knows if the Bobcats blinked, or simply refused to budge on including Tyrus Thomas in any deal for the No. 2.
As Randy Wittman readily admitted last night on ESPN, it was patently obvious following the acquisition of Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor that the Wizards had a glaring need at shooting guard and that Beal was the target at No. 3. Just like that, it was a seller's market at No. 2 for the Bobcats, as teams targeting Beal came out of the woodwork. An actionable offer never materialized, and whether that was due to sheer luck or the rumors that if Beal were taken the Wizards would trade down to an unknown team who would be a complete wild card, we'll never know.
Personally, I'd like to echo a sentiment from the last run of Bullet Points: Self-determination is a theme omnipresent in every championship narrative. With any uncertainty about drafting the best possible player, a trade down cannot be justified. No GM building a contender will risk compromising a piece of the core for a smattering of low first-round talent. Did Ernie Grunfeld back Rich Cho into that proverbial corner by design? Beal is wearing a Wizards draft hat. What other answer matters?
Unfortunately, there were more questions to answer after the general (but not universal) euphoria of Beal's selection wore off.
As expected, significant talent fell out of the first round. Many of the Bullets Forever faithful were grumbling about the loss of the No. 46 pick, the only remaining material damage (aside from cap space) from the Okafor/Ariza trade. Doron Lamb, Orlando Johnson, Quincy Miller, and Will Barton were among several other notable names were remaining on the board. With excitement mounting, Adam Silver announced:
With the 32nd pick of the 2012 NBA Draft, the Washington Wizards select Tomas Satoransky.
I won't lie, that was a hard moment. Many of us here had been hoping to see Grunfeld trade up and select Perry Jones III. To watch a valuable pick high atop the second round of a deep draft 'spent' on a player who may not ever wear Wizards red with plenty of sharpshooters left on the board felt like a grave, short-sighted injustice.
But how serious is it, really?
Prior to the draft, the Wizards had 10 players under contract for next season. Picking up the option on backup point guard Shelvin Mack's deal makes 11. The Wizards could bring back Roger Mason, Jr., if his late-season virtuosity didn't price him out of the team's newly constrained budget. Cartier Martin or James Singleton could come back quite cheaply ... and where would our winning streak have been without Morris Almond? Beal is now on board, so that's 12 players.
Teams rarely carry the full allotment of 15 players. If the Wiz and Grunfeld felt some combination of Mason, Martin and Singleton effectively duplicated whatever skill-sets those second-round prospects could bring (mid-round talent in 2011!), then it's little surprise the team elected to save the roster spot. Perhaps they want the spot for flexibility in exploring a trade? At least they didn't simply sell the pick for cash considerations. Cold comfort.
Drafting Draft Express' 79th ranked prospect at No. 32 is the move of a team very confident of a playoff berth. That asset might not seem terribly important now, I wonder what a Bulls fan might tell us about the value of having a sharpshooter on a non-guaranteed contract when pressed against the salary cap.
As for Satoransky, he likely projects as a combo guard with a questionable shot but decent playmaking instincts and ball-handling. Until he comes over (next year?), he's Earl Calloway's backup at a position he won't play much in the NBA. Right now, he appears to be a player that doesn't have the athleticism to beat an opponent with their first step or a reliable jumper, and for a pick like the No. 32, it feels like a meager return on an important asset.
In the final calculation, the Wizards got their man in Beal. There's an open question as to how much credit Grunfeld deserves for that, but the fact is that the Wizards have landed perhaps the second-most coveted pick in the draft at the third spot and that doesn't count for nothing. Not having a pick at No. 46 stung (to say nothing of No. 10), but not as much as watching Ernie use the No. 32, practically a first rounder considering the depth of the year's draft class and significant talent remaining on the board, on a Euro draft-and-stash in Satoransky.
It was a competent enough draft, but I don't think anyone is about to call it inspired. Guess that's the story of Grunfeld's stewardship. This grade could become higher as more information surrounding the prospective trade situation back in the early lottery comes to light. As I said earlier, no GM building a contender will risk compromising a piece of the core for a smattering of low first round talent. Of course, one kind of hopes they wouldn't ignore said talent to save a roster spot, either. Fans hoped this sort of asset management was a thing of the past and the disturbing nature of this subject impacts my final grade more than the asset itself may warrant.
Some might want to give Grunfeld an 'A' simply for Beal, but I can't sign off on his logic with respect to the No. 32 (among other things leading up to the draft), and since I'm holding the red pen for this brief moment, my grade stands at a B.