Wizards want instant-impact player
In Part 1 of the Wizards No. 3 scenarios, we looked at the prospects who best help the Wizards now with an significant factor being how much they enhance John Wall and Bradley Beal's development. Up next, the current options if the Wizards are to take a patient path...
*If the goal is about helping Wall/Beal above all but looking 2-3 years down the line, then we're talking Kentucky center Nerlens Noel. The Wizards would combine their two guards with a shot-blocking savant who also rebounded at a high level as a freshman and could provide Washington with a significant plus advantage on the back line. The downside is the slender Noel currently lacks any consistent offensive game outside of putbacks and fast break opportunities (though he has decent feel for the passing game) and could be out until the All-Star break after tearing his ACL in February, the 19-year-olds second significant knee injury. Bottom line, if the medical reports are good and the Wizards are willing to wait, they would be getting the longtime leader for the No. 1 slot at three.
*Lastly, if the Wizards are indeed patient, but want to go for pure upside, then Maryland's Alex Len gets involved. The 7-foot-1, highly athletic center led the ACC in blocks and showed a bevy of interior moves despite his relative lack of basketball experience and playing a good chunk of his sophomore season on a bum foot that would require surgery. The downside is the Ukrainian big man did not always play with needed aggression, especially when receiving limited offensive touches. His overall game needs work before any stardom talk becomes more than talk. Bottom line, while it might be a cliché, teams can and should take a chance on height especially when combined with a gymnast's athleticism and significant scoring potential. There is considerable risk that the Wizards will ultimately wait and wait and wait for his development.
Depending on the talent evaluator, there could be multiple winning answers to any of the four categories discussed. But know the Wizards cannot miss on this pick, not with a chance at the postseason (meaning no lottery next year) for the first time since 2008. Not with the coach and GM entering the final year of their respective contracts. Not if Washington wants to attract significant free agents when Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza's contracts come off the books next offseason; winning and excitement are much better enticements than losing and excuses.
And of course, not with Wall, whose own contract situation remains in flux, and Beal's development in play. Depending on how the Wizards rank all the aforementioned factors will determine the selection. Because holes or at least future concerns exist at center and both forward slots, any of the four players work. Speaking with both NBA and college sources, there is no consistent preference among the top-6 prospects (including Victor Oladipo and Ben Mclemore). Considering half of the top tier are coming off injury, the most important evaluators might be the doctors.
Even those with questions about Len's consistency or Noel's build must grasp understand the idea of going big when given the opportunity. Considering the Wizards tied for last in scoring last season, even those suspicious of Bennett's defensive lapses and winded runs can rationalize the decision if he's the pick. But, if Wall and Beal are the focal point and their progress trumps all, then in terms of the prospects, Porter does as well.