On Tuesday night, one kind of NBA Draft speculation will end and another will ramp up dramatically. That's when we will learn the actual 2013 NBA Draft order and thus no longer have to mention that the Wizards have the 8th best odds (3.5%) of landing the first pick. Washington will wind up with one of the top three picks or anywhere from 8-11. That's it, that's the list.
J. Michael spent the past few days in Chicago and leading up to Tuesday night, he'll provide insight on where the Wizards appear headed in the draft. As someone that covers the Wizards and college basketball for CSN, here's my take on what Washington is looking at depending on which draft slot fate - and the lottery ping-pong balls - determines. Part one dealt with picking No. 1 overall or anywhere in the top three.
If the Wizards pick 8 - If no team jumps ahead of them in the lottery, the Wizards will pick eighth. Barring injury or the unforeseen, we can safely assume center Nerlens Noel, forward Otto Porter Jr., guards Ben McLemore, Victor Oladipo and Trey Burke will be off the board. Not everyone believes in UNLV forward Bennett's ability to play inside at 6-foot-7 (or, gulp, if he's actually 6-foot-6), but enough like his starry potential so don't count on him falling. That currently leaves some combination of these players (minus one for the seventh pick):
Bigs: Maryland center Alex Len, Gonzaga PF/C Kelly Olynyk, Indiana PF/C Tyler Zeller, Pittsburgh center Steven Adams, French center Rudy Gobert, Duke PF/C Mason Plumlee
Wing: UCLA small forward Shabazz Muhammad, Croatian Dario Saric
Backcourt: Lehigh PG/SG C.J. McCollum, Syracuse point guard Michael Carter-Williams
Even after recently undergoing ankle surgery, Len remains a top-5 pick for some talent evaluators and the athletic 7-foot-1 center offers crazy upside, but NBA history is littered with stories of big men cut down because of foot woes. Probably the safest of the bunch, the athletic Zeller rocked the combine and his ability to run the court makes for a nice fit with Wall. However, safe isn't sexy and projecting Zeller as anything more than a role player seems like dreaming. The efficient and hard working Olynyk made great strides for the Bulldogs last season, but we learned at the combine he has a dismal wingspan for a 7-footer. Taking Adams would be a nod toward the future, but the New Zealander is a legitimate rebounder already. Gobert has an unreal 7-foot-9 wingspan, but the Wizards do not need another non-scoring developmental player.
Based on the current roster, taking a scoring threat like Muhammad makes positional and need sense, but legitimate questions about his shooting, ball handling and future position remain. ESPN's Chad Ford loves Saric's court savvy, but during the televised combine, his colleague Fran Fraschilla said he would pass on the 6-foot-7 forward because of off-the-court matters.
McCollum's senior season ended early because of a left foot injury, but he's a dynamic scorer with the ability to play either guard spot. Whether he's ultimately a one or a two (or either) is one of the lingering questions.
Ideal scenario: We will keep repeating the trade-for-a-veteran theme especially at this point, but...The more homework done on this group the more it feels like Len doesn't belong in it assuming the doctors pass him medically. His growth on and off the court over two seasons at Maryland was immense. With the Wizards, he would never face a double team and would play with an actual point guard. Other teams passing on Bennett would be stellar, but as mentioned before, that seems like a stretch.
If the Wizards pick 9, 10 or 11 - No more than three teams can pass the Wizards in the lottery order so 11 would be the worst case draw. As for the other prospects, the 6-foot-3 McCollum as a scoring third guard is intriguing if the Wizards believe he has an actual position in the NBA. The Wizards won't be able to play him in three-guard sets with Bradley Beal and John Wall, but having an experienced point-producing option off the bench who made 51 percent of his 3-point attempts as a senior would be nice. As a long-term center option, the physical Adams is certainly intriguing. The polarizing Muhammad might be, if he can play guard because currently lacks enough size to compete against NBA frontcourts. Chances of Zeller, Olynyk or Plumlee coming to Washington rises if the team desires dependability over potential. Carter-Williams is another freaky athlete with tremendous court vision, but his shooting struggles limit his fit on the Wizards as Wall's backup. As for Saric, more homework is required before I can safely discuss, but we know the Wizards are not shy about taking international players.
Ideal scenario: Everything else from the previous scenarios applies here, from the trading for a veteran to hoping for Porter, Bennett, Len or some other high-end prospect to slip. Unlike the NFL draft and previous NBA versions, there should be much less thought about drafting for need and more about simply taking the best player. Outside of maybe point guard, that applies no matter where the Wizards pick, but especially the further they fall in the lottery. Since we talking best case here, having Muhammad wow the Wizards with his attitude, versatility and shot making would be stellar. Nobody passes on potential 20-point per game scorers unless there is baggage. Right now the 19-year-old...sorry, the 20-year-old is toting around some extra luggage. If there is more than the Wizards can comfortably stow, McCollum's ability to contribute immediately trumps size offered by Zeller or Olynyk.