Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Over a week has passed since the catastrophe known as the 2009 NBA Draft Lottery. You know, the NBA pre-draft event known for awkward dialogue between team representatives and broadcasters that is given way too much television coverage and even has an hour-long pregame show (!) that probably attracts more viewers than an actual NBA playoff game where powerful overpaid NBA executives get together to pick out three ping pong balls with four-digit combinations corresponding to one of 14 teams participating all with raging semi-boners for guys like Blake Griffin and Ricky Rubio? Yeah, that lottery.
Or, as you may more vividly remember it, the night where "Wizards Tank Job 2008-2009" was effectively made moot with the worst-case scenario 5th overall selection. Excuse me while I remove the tacks from my eyeballs.
Nevertheless, we must move on. And truth be told, the 5th pick ain't so bad. But before we dissect all the potential picks, we must identify the Wizards most pressing needs. This team has plenty of holes with and without all parts healthy. The big three of Arenas, Butler, and Jamison are all locks to start next year assuming they are healthy and wearing the Blue, Black, Gold, and White! (Seriously? Bring back the Bullets, or shoot me now.)
I'm no fan of Michael Wilbon, but he brought up a good point in his article following the lottery last week:
"Okay, I get it. Arenas, which I've been saying for some time now, shouldn't be the starting point guard. It's one thing for me to say it; it's another thing for Magic Johnson to say it. If Magic says the Wizards should have a pure, set-up-his-teammates point guard to run the offense, I'm listening. "
For the first time in my life I couldn't agree more with Michael Wilbon (and Magic Johnson, I guess). Gilbert Arenas is a combo guard. Yes, he is great with the ball in his hands, and he will undoubtedly "Hibachi!" in crunch time. But drafting a classic pass-first point guard and playing Arenas off the ball can be effective for two reasons:
1. The most obvious reason, a pass-first point guard will create open shots for his teammates. Arenas, Jamison, Butler, Young, and Songaila (ugh) can all hit open jumpers consistently.
2. Arenas will be fresh at the defensive end, at the end of games, and at the end of the season. Not to say that he won't run off the ball; but without the responsibility of running the offense, Arenas can conserve some energy and concentration on an area that he has excelled at over the years (fitness) and an area of concern throughout his career (defense).
Defense and 3-point shooting must not be overlooked as vital team qualities. Cleveland finished 1st in scoring defense during the regular season and 2nd in 3-point shooting percentage. Orlando finished 6th in scoring defense and 7th in 3-point shooting. The fact that both are in the conference finals is no coincidence. This season's Wizards? 24th and 29th, respectively.
While they have needs elsewhere, specifically up front, drafting a point guard should help the team defensively and lead to a significant improvement in 3-point shooting. It will also stabilize the future of the backcourt and should immediately return the team to the playoffs, which according to my sources is the only way to avoid the emotional brutality of the NBA Draft Lottery. So, yea, I guess I could fox with that.
But Ernie will probably fox it up.