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Hey, Wizards fans, don't fret about losing 2016's 1st round pick


Hey, Wizards fans, don't fret about losing 2016's 1st round pick

There plenty of doom and gloom takes on the Washington Wizards these days. Perhaps the most ugly version involves the mid-season trade for Markieff Morris. The deal didn't help the Wizards reach the playoffs and it likely cost their 2016 lottery pick. Fantastic.

Barring a miracle there is no getting around the disappointment over the no postseason angle. As for the no draft pick story, there are a few points folks are overlooking:

1) The Wizards get to keep Morris for at least the next two seasons and at a rather modest cost

2) The projected 2016 Draft class is a mystery wrapped in an enigma of wingspan and extreme youth

3) The 2017 class is much more interesting

Washington traded the 2016 selection to Phoenix with limited protection. If top-9 or better, it stays with the Wizards. However, the standings show Washington would pick 12th barring any changes. Therefore, unless the ping-pong balls come up lucky and they land one of the first three picks, the Wizards won't have a selection in 2016. They previously traded away their second round selection for Kelly Oubre Jr.

Should the Wizards move into the top 3, they convey their 2017 first rounder to Phoenix. Top 3 plays, but Washington is otherwise better off keeping its 2017 selection. Hold this thought.

Many of the people bemoaning the no playoff-no pick fate also note that All-Star guard John Wall is in the midst of his prime. Therefore, immediate help is required. Most drafts don't offer such help anymore. Even down the road, projections for the 2016 group are cloudy according to numerous observers including NBC Sports' Rob Dauster.

"Who in this class are we confident will be a top 15 player, an all-star years from now? [LSU forward] Ben Simmons and [Duke forward] Brandon Ingram, maybe. People think we'll know what the top four or so picks this year will be. After that, who knows," said Dauster, the lead writer for the website College Basketball Talk.

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The "who knows" aspect flies in the face of those who believe you build through the draft regardless. There are certainly advantages including moldable youth and cheaper labor. That doesn't mean the draft is a must for each team every year or that even the top picks are slam dunks.

Cellar dwellers gather assets and hope a winning path emerges. Everyone points to the success in Oklahoma City as full proof of concept. They ignore the fate of  Anthony Bennett. The No. 1 overall pick by Cleveland in the 2013 Draft is already out of the league. 

For those thinking playoffs, vets can trump kids. Washington traded its 2014 first rounder for Marcin Gortat, who is finishing up a third straight solid season. Phoenix used the 18th pick on Tyler Ennis, who averaged 4.2 points in limited minutes for Milwaukee this season. 

In some years, the chances of success are better than others. A Morris-type deal in 2015 wouldn't have been viewed positively. Everyone loved the 2015 class because of the upside with the top handful of options and the impressive depth throughout the first round. That meant the odds of landing a potential impact player -- even if, like Oubre, that potential is down the road -- were rather high. When you're making moves for a scenario months out, knowing how big the target for potential success is key. 

Even when noting the draft's general uncertainty, the 12th pick in 2016 reaches the next level.

"I'm just not convinced you'll get an All-Star player in that range," Dauster told CSN recently. 

Meanwhile "the 2017 draft is definitely deep and more talented with more guys at the top," Dauster states. "There are a lot of studs in that class. More prospects with a chance to be stars."

Sounds like a bigger target for potential. Sounds like it's perhaps better having a first round pick that year.

Dauster's 2016 claim is based on the U.S. college players. International prospects provide another scouting challenge. The upside is New York Knicks rookie Krystaps Porzingis, a player the draft community loved and the uneducated masses mocked. The downside is Jan Vesely, who didn't receive the same hype as Porzingis, but was universally considered worthy of the sixth pick in 2011.

The latest DraftExpress.com mock draft casually projects French forward Timothe Luwawu 12th overall. Even if we move past the international player no fan stateside has ever heard of, five of the six players surrounding Luwawu will have each played as many years of college ball as the seldom-used Oubre. Like Oubre, those players would likely learn by watching in Washington since the Wizards are thinking playoffs and don't have a D-League team yet for needed child care.

Meanwhile Morris, whose $8 million salary over each of the next two years will look like the tip jar compared to some of the overpriced contracts handed out in free agency this summer, is already here. The 26-year-old power forward proved helpful this season -- Washington is 13-12 since the acquisition -- and fills out a roster lacking in bodies entering next season.

Barring a miracle, the 2015-16 season was a missed opportunity. All agree on this. That doesn't mean the Wizards lose even more if they lose their 2016 first round pick. For the long haul, it's perhaps ideal.

MORE WIZARDS: Wall echoes Beal's sentiments after Wizards' loss

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Blazers' C.J. McCollum has a theory on DeMarcus Cousins signing with the Wizards to reunite with John Wall

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Blazers' C.J. McCollum has a theory on DeMarcus Cousins signing with the Wizards to reunite with John Wall

Blazers guard C.J. McCollum has a theory that may sound familiar to Wizards fans. The star shooting guard now hosts a podcast and said on his most recent episode that he could see DeMarcus Cousins teaming up with John Wall in Washington.

McCollum's Blazers happened to lose in the first round to Cousins' Pelicans, though Cousins did not play in the series due to injury. Now, McCollum has offered thoughts on his future.

Here is what McCollum said about Cousins potentially going to Washington on his Pull Up podcast, as transcribed by SLAM Magazine:

"No slight against the homie. I think he’s a very, very good player. But you just have to look at the team roster and try to figure out what’s best for that roster moving forward...

“I think team success, playoff success, factors in to decision-making with personnel moving forward. Obviously, Jrue Holiday, Rondo, AD will have input on what they decide to do going forward. So that’s something to keep an eye out on in the free agency.

“And if that is the case, Boogie would jump out in to the market as a free agent and be a very hot commodity, and could potentially team up with the Washington Wizards.

“You heard it here first. You heard that here first. You know that Kentucky connection, man. I could see that happening. That’s just something to think about going forward.”

The funny part of those quotes is that McCollum said "you heard it here first." Wizards fans, of course, have been banging that drum since, oh, 2010 when the two were drafted.

As it has often been throughout the last eight years, a reunion of Wall and Cousins is unlikely. Yes, Cousins is expected to hit free agency, but the Wizards currently do not have the money to sign him. They are in the luxury tax and would have to move some big contracts to make room.

Cousins is also coming off a torn Achilles injury. That creates major questions about his future and how much money teams will offer him. 

If healthy, Cousins would fit nicely with the Wizards who will need to get younger at the center position at some point. It just doesn't seem like a good bet given all the factors in play. 

You can listen to McCollum's full podcast here.


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Otto Porter's status in doubt for Game 6 against Raptors

Otto Porter's status in doubt for Game 6 against Raptors

There appears to be at least some chance the Wizards will be without starting small forward Otto Porter when they host the Toronto Raptors in Game 6 of their first round playoff series on Friday night in Washington.

Porter, 24, continues to deal with a right lower leg strain. The injury is located on the outside of his calf and will require further testing from the Wizards' medical staff to determine his status.

Head coach Scott Brooks addressed the media on Thursday and did not rule out an MRI.

"We don't know as of yet, but he's banged up. So, hopefully we will find out some good news and see how he feels tomorrow," Brooks said.

Porter first suffered the injury on April 10 against the Celtics in the Wizards' penultimate regular season game. He missed the regular season finale, but has appeared in all five games of the Wizards-Raptors series.

Brooks did not make it seem likely that Porter will miss Game 6, but expressed uncertainty.

"Anything is possible," he said. "We hope for the best."

Porter appeared hobbled in Game 5 and has at other times this series as well. After the first two games of the series, Brooks was asked about Porter's health and said that he was "100 percent." It's unclear if Porter suffered a setback in the time between, but clearly that isn't the case anymore.

Porter is averaging just 10.0 points in this series, down from his 14.7 per game season average. Ideally, the Wizards would be getting more than that from their third scoring option.

"We need Otto," Brooks said. "We need Otto to be more of a nine or 10-point scorer for us to win this series."

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