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The Night That Wasn’t

Posted By Dave Leonardis On Jun 26 2010 @ 12:08 am In Washington Wizards | 1 Comment

Last night was supposed to be the night the Washington Wizards came full circle. After winning the NBA Draft lottery a couple months ago, anticipation built up in the days leading up to last night’s Draft in the nation’s capital. The eventual arrival of Kentucky point guard phenom John Wall was enough to get Wiz fans on their feet but their excitement would later be enhanced by the 11th hour trade that sent sharp-shooting combo guard Kirk Hinrich and the 17th overall pick from Chicago to Washington for essentially nothing. That trade gave Washington four picks in the first 35 selections. Yes, last night was supposed to be a big night in D.C.

It wasn’t.

While the Wizards found a potential franchise-changer in Wall by making the no-brainer choice with the first overall pick, the rest of the night’s moves left me scratching my head. For one, why trade for Hinrich when you already had Wall and Gilbert Arenas locking down the two starting guard spots?  Why mortgage most, if not all, of that cap space you spent all of last season freeing up in an effort to make some moves in what has been heralded as the biggest free agent class in years on a guy who can’t defend and who is owed $17 million over the next two seasons? Hinrich will essentially fill the Randy Foye role from last season: a capable scoring guard who provide an offensive spark by filling in at either backcourt spot. The problem with that theory is that Hinrich’s scoring average has gone down the last two seasons and you could have found any run of the mill combo guard to fill that spot for less than the nearly $9 million per that the Wiz will pay Hinrich over the next two years.

Then, there was the selection of French big man Kevin Seraphin with the pick from Chicago(technically, Seraphin and Hinrich are still Bulls until July 6th….too bad the Wiz can’t re-neg). Now, Seraphin’s a nice prospect for a Wizards team that needs some size, but he’s rawer than pork. His offensive game needs some seasoning and there’s nobody currently on this Wizards roster who can show him a thing or two about scoring inside. Don’t the Wizards have enough young big men on the roster taking up cap space while Washington waits on their “potential”? I mean, Seraphin averaged 6.1 points and 4.3 rebounds a game last year IN FRANCE! He’s going to somehow get better against a higher level of competition in the NBA? With Wall’s ability to create, the Wizards wouldn’t have been better served getting a wing with freakish athletic ability like, say, Texas’ Damion James?

Finally, there’s Clemson’s Trevor Booker and Rutgers’  Hamady N’diaye, who were acquired in a draft-day trade that sent Marquette small forward Lazar Hayward and Serbian big man Nemanja Bjelica to Minnesota. Now, Booker’s is more of a fit for Washington than Serphin is. He’s strong, athletic, solid rebounder, decent shotblocker and loves to bang inside. The problem is, he’s an undersized four at 6’7. He’s like former Wizards undersized forward Antawn Jamison, except without the offensive creativity. N’diaye, meanwhile, serves one purpose on the roster: shotblocking. N’diaye averaged 2.9 blocks a game in four seasons with the Scarlet Knights but he is very raw offensively beyond a jump hook and, at 240lbs, he’s going to get pushed around inside by bigger centers. N’diaye makes more sense had the Wizards went elsewhere with the 17th pick, but using two picks on yet another set of big man prospects when the team already has Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee makes no sense to me.

So, what should have been the night the Wizards made a push out of the NBA’s basement turned out to be a bust beyond the obvious selection of Wall. The Wizards went into this Draft with Toy Story 3 expectations and came out more disappointing than Jonah Hex. The Hinrich deal looks a little better if they can somehow find a taker for Arenas’ overblown contract, but that seems like a long shot. Wall will be a star from Day 1 but the Wizards will have to live with his suspect jump shot until he, much like the rest of the Wiz’s selections, develops. Meanwhile, Wall will have to spend the next couple years of his career on a team that’s the polar opposite of his squad at Kentucky. Instead of being surrounded with promising young talent, Wall gets to create for a smorgasbord of insanely raw prospects and gets to share touches with a shot-happy headcase in Arenas.

Welcome to the nation’s capital, John. Enjoy all the glitz and excitement you’re going to endure over these next few weeks because, if last night was any indication, it won’t last very long.

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