Sports

Picking Splinters: Drafts & Cups

Mike,

It’s the second year in a row the Washington Wizards will likely have a high lottery pick. What should they do with it?

John W.

That’s a tougher question than it should be for a team that could have a top-five pick. This year’s draft class could be one of the worst in recent memory. Fear of an NBA lockout, coupled with the desire for many of the presumed one-and-done collegiate players to return to school has greatly thinned the crop of prospects.

If nothing changes in the lottery, the Wizards are slated to pick No. 4 overall. Normally that could net you some serious talent. This season, it will likely get the Wiz a big question mark. The consensus now is that there is one can’t-miss prospect at the top of the draft class, Duke’s Kyrie Irving, who was sensational before a toe injury shelved him up until the NCAA tournament. The only problem is that the Wizards already have a first-rate PG prospect in John Wall, so Irving doesn’t make a lot of sense. If the Wizards win the lottery, bet heavily on a trade.

The problem with Washington’s current situation is that their rebuilding plan depends on them landing high draft picks in order to improve. With the talent pool unusually shallow this season, their No. 4 pick could be of the Kwame Brown variety, giving them little value in exchange for a season of rebuilding.

It’s tough to say the Wiz need to be bad again next season in order to really help themselves, but Washington really needs a high pick in 2012, when the draft pool should provide a loaded top 10. So if I’m the Wizards, I gamble a little bit with this pick because my preference would be for the player chosen this year to blossom a season or two down the line.

Derrick Williams could make a very intriguing running mate for John Wall. The downside is that, despite his athleticism and sweet shooting touch, he’s a bit of a tweener size wise. Still, his upside, and highlight potential, are pretty intense. Enes Kanter, the one-time Kentucky center who was DQed over eligibility issues from his playing days in his native Turkey, could be the perfect pick though. Kanter’s ability is very high. Coming into his freshman season, he was thought to be the top center in all of college basketball. Sadly, he never got a chance to prove it. He hasn’t played competitive hoops since he left Turkey though, so the odds of him being solid out of the gate next season aren’t that hot … which could be perfect for the Wizards.

In the grand scheme of things, the Wiz probably wouldn’t mind losing a bunch of games while their youngsters develop. And when Kanter, who has the size to rebound in the NBA and the shooting touch to be a Stretch 4, rounds into form he could be a terrific complement to the current core of JaVale McGee and Wall. But his development curve should be long enough to get the Wizards another high pick next season in a loaded draft.

Hume,

If the Caps are again eliminated shy of the Stanley Cup, do you think that’s a fireable offense for Bruce Boudreau?

Alex O.

Well, yes and no. If the Caps can clear the first hurdle in the playoff course, then it could be time to seriously start wondering if the team needs a new bench boss to get them to the next level. I get that. But I think any impulsive decision would discount a very impressive note about how Boudreau has gotten this team, once all offense all the time, to commit to a more defensive style that has helped them to a tremendous second half of the season. And despite that transition, the Caps still won the Eastern Conference this season. That’s pretty impressive and before Ted Leonsis pulls the trigger on a coaching change, I’d recommend he take a few minutes and several deep breaths to consider that achievement.

That said, the Caps need to break out offensively to complete their Cup-contender transformation. Scoring just two-goals per game in the playoffs probably isn’t going to get it done.