Michael Lee fills in for Tracee Hamilton to discuss the NBA draft lottery, the Wizards, the playoffs and whatever else you want to talk about.

May 31, 2012

This week, Michael Lee discussed all the sports news, including the NBA draft lottery, the Wizards, the playoffs and whatever else you want to talk about.

Follow @PostLive on Twitter

Good morning folks. I’m up on a beautiful day in New York, where the Wizards found out they will have the third overall pick in the June 28 NBA draft. It might be easy to get upset that the New Orleans Hornets leapfrogged them to get the No. 1 overall pick, but as it is with everything involving this franchise, it could’ve been worse. Yes, they had a 19.9 percent chance of winning Anthony Davis, but they also could’ve fallen all the way down to fifth. Sliding one spot is not so bad. So much to talk about here, from the draft, to the Wizards, to the NBA playoffs, to whatever else is on your mind. It’s been so long since I’ve done one of these, so I might be a little rusty. But let’s go…

The third pick, huh? What's that worth? Early thoughts on who might get picked by the Wiz?

The Wizards have several options at No. 3, but my early leanings takes me Florida's Bradley Beal. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was the best player not named Anthony Davis on Kentucky and has considerable talent, but Beal addresses an immediate need on the perimeter. He has decent range on his jumper - which Kidd-Gilchrist doesn't - and he would fit well with the Wizards currently have. Since he's only 18, he has plenty of room to grow and get better.

But they could go with Kidd-Gilchrist or North Carolina's Harrison Barnes just the same. Kansas forward and District native Thomas Robinson is probably the most NBA-ready guy considered a top five pick and Connecticut's Andre Drummond is really intriguing, but I think the Wizards take a guard here. Beal makes sense.

Here's an early look at the Wizards options with the No. 3 pick

What are the odds Charlotte passes on MKG? If so, is it a no brainer that Wizards take him at 3?

Very decent odds that they pass on Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to take Thomas Robinson. The Bobcats have so many needs to address and Robinson could come in and help them right away in the low block. If MKG is there at three, the Wizards will have to take into consideration the fit and whether he, in some ways, duplicates what they already have. The Wizards have several energy guys who hustle and scrap, but they really need guys who can make shots. For all of his immense gifts, shot-making isn't very high on the list for MKG. That being said, I love his motor. He goes hard. 

Can the Wizards really afford to bring on more youth and inexperience, or should we really try to push for a trade of a good vet.

The Wizards definitely need to add more vets, especially after seeing the difference that Nene made upon his arrival. But more than anything, the Wizards need talent. As Oklahoma City has proven the past few years, experience is nice, but talent wins in the NBA - whether young or old. The Spurs are up 2-0 over the Thunder because they have talent and experience, but the Wizards are lacking in both areas. With a top three pick, they have a chance to really upgrade the collection of talent. You take the pick. Get a vet in free agency or by trading one of the other pieces on your roster.

i know a lot of people are high on MKG and Beal, but i think Barnes could be the steal of the draft...do you think the Wiz would pick him at # 3?

People give me a hard time about this, but I've always liked Harrison Barnes. He's smooth, has an NBA game, makes plays some guys in the league can't do right now. He had what some consider a disappointing career at North Carolina because he rarely took over games and wasn't dominant enough at the collegiate level, but I heard the same rap about Rudy Gay. One player told me he doesn't have that "dog in him." But not everybody does - or should be expected to. I like his game and the fact that he blended with a talented team and didn't try to make the show about him. I'm not sure if the Wizards take him at 3, but he has to be in the mix. He's a really good player.

Any idea why the Wiz are leaving Randy Whittman hanging? Seems odd. What's the point of delaying the decision? Every day they don't sign him for next year is a bit of credibility lost if they do eventually go with him, as the players will think he was a consolation prize hire.

I'm not sure if they are leaving him hanging. He's still under contract. The team hasn't made a firm commitment, but I think a lot has had to take place before a decision is made. Ted Leonsis had no relationship with Randy Wittman last season, because the two never interacted during the lockout shortened season. With the Capitals making a playoff run, Leonsis had never really spent any time with Wittman until a recent meeting a few weeks ago.

Leonsis told me that he was moved to meet with Wittman after John Wall and Nene, among others, expressed their support for him. But I think they have actually been good with Wittman, considering they aren't interviewing other coaches while he's still under contract.

This is a major decision, considering what's at stake with Wall and his career, so you don't want to rush into a hire. Now, I don't know about taking this long. But with Wittman just meeting with Leonsis alone for the first time this month, I think you can understand somewhat.

Michael, I for one was glad the Wizards did not get the 1st overall, because I don't think Davis would be an asset here, what are your thoughts on Davis' abilities and how he will fair early in his career

You don't think a player who averaged almost 5 blocks a game would be an asset here? Surely you jest. I've been high on Davis from the start. He reminded me a lot of Marcus Camby when I first saw him, but many NBA scouts believe that Camby is actually the floor for this kid, who could be a truly great player at the next level. He has awesome basketball instincts, always seems to make the right play, blocks shots and keeps them in play, has freakish athleticism. You don't often find a guy with his talent also possessing a solid basketball IQ. That's what makes him special. I've also had several people tell me that held back his offensive skills to make it work at Kentucky. That's also a gift.

He's coming back right? I think he deserves a full year.

It sure looks that way right now. The Wizards have been non-commital publicly but their lack of aggressiveness with so many big name candidates out there has spoken volumes.

Do you have a good idea of who will be on the summer league roster in vegas?

You can probably assume that the rookies from last year - Jan Vesely, Shelvin Mack and Chris Singleton - will play. I heard Vesely is coming from the Czech Republic next month to get ready, so he's in. The three draft picks from this year will participate. Jordan Crawford has stated that he'd be willing to play, but I'm not so sure he will. Other than that, you might see Morris Almond or Cartier Martin give it go. I wouldn't count on John Wall, Trevor Booker or Kevin Seraphin, who will be getting ready for the Olympics.

In recent chats, one of your colleagues omits John Wall from the pantheon of current and future Washington superstars, his list including Ovechkin, RGIII, Strasburg and Harper. I'm big on Wall's potential and feel he's only beginning to get the organizational and team support around him that those others enjoy. More important -- what do you think?

I think Wall was omitted because of the Wizards' failures in recent years. Wall arrived with hope, but the team hasn't improved with him in uniform - and unfortunately, Wall didn't make the considerable leap that was expected of him last season. A lot of factors outside his control played a part in that, but he is going to have to put in the work to get better as well.

I agree that he's finally starting to get the real support now, with the team getting rid of JaVale McGee and Nick Young and making the push to add more veterans. But they have to do more in order to get the best out of Wall.

From covering Wall, I think he really wants to be great but he is desperately seeking guidance. He understands his limitations, but he wants to learn. He needs a veteran that he can trust and respect to show how him what it takes to be a professional.

I watched Rajon Rondo go for 44, 10 and 8 last night and thought about what playing with three future Hall of Famers did to help him maximize his skills and perhaps exceed expectations for his career. Future Hall of Famers don't just fall in your lap, but I think Wall would make immediate and dramatic strides if he was with a Chauncey Billups type, who could check him when he's wrong and help him correct his mistakes.

So far, Wall has been asked to learn the hard way. I think he has done remarkably well, considering what he has been asked to overcome and when you compare his numbers to other great point guards, he's right up there with the best. Getting chosen for the Team USA select squad was confirmation of his tremendous talent, but the Wizards have to do right by him to help him improve, help the team improve - & possibly allow him to have a high spot on the pantheon of Washington superstars (whatever that's worth).

Hi Michael, Here in Boston, not surprisingly, there is non stop chatter about the refs favoring the Heat so far in the series. Not being a Celtic nut how do you see the officiating in this series?

I think the officiating has been bad in the series, but I think Boston is down 0-2 because Miami is the superior team. The referees were dunking and getting easy uncontested layups in Game 1 and they didn't appear stagnant offensively in overtime in Game 2. Boston is struggling right now because of Ray Allen's ankles and Paul Pierce's natural decline. Combine that with Dwyane Wade and LeBron James (despite another fourth-quarter hiccup) playing out of their minds right now, the Celtics just have to hope they can find some magic back home.

Is it safe to say that those are gonna be the three that Ernie is looking at? Also, is there a trade out there to be made that could get us a middle to late 1st rounder as well? I think there are a lot of guys in that range that could end up being good pieces on a contender.

There is a lot of talent in this draft. And while I think it would be cool for the Wizards to get another first-rounder in this draft (and they just might, since they have two second-rounders), you have to consider that this team might have nine to 10 players on their rookie contracts next season. That only leaves room for a few veteran contributors and a potentially unbalanced roster of youth over inexperience. As Ted Leonsis said last night - and before last season - the Wizards have enough young players. They need good players now.

Why has Jared Sullinger fallen out of the top draft picks? I remember a year ago he was thought to be an overall number one. Is there something he lacks?

The things Sullinger lacks (athleticism and explosiveness) were things that he was never going to pick up in college. By sticking around another year, he simply gave NBA executives the chance to poke and prod a little more, find more flaws, and turn their attention to what's new and exciting. Think about it: Davis, Beal and MKG were freshman last year and Robinson finally got a break after the Morris twins went to the NBA. Those guys pushed him back, which was the risk he took by returning. I still think Sullinger is a good player and should turn out okay at the next level. He just cost himself some coin by playing another year at Ohio State. Harrison Barnes and Perry Jones III probably did the same by going back.

I think it odd that when talking about the 2nd worst team in the league, people talk about fit rather than just taking the very best player available (point guard excepted). With the #3 pick in the draft, shouldn't the Wizards just take the best player available? Isn't NBA history littered with teams that made this mistake (Bowie over Jordan because of Drexler)?

I suppose, but we're not talking about situation where the player who may or may not be available at No. 3 is anywhere comparable to a Michael Jordan. Plus, the separation between players slated to go between two and, probably, eight is marginal. Each player has considerable holes and question marks. So, with all things being equal, I go with fit.

In 2010, Tyreke Evans won rookie of the year and Oklahoma City was criticized because it failed to take the supposedly more talented player at No. 3 in the previous draft. How could the Thunder take James Harden, a guy who didn't even start?

Sam Presti went for fit with Harden, because he knew how well he'd mesh with what they were building with Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and, back then, Jeff Green. He understood that no matter how talented Evans was, he needed the ball to be effective and wouldn't work well with Westbrook. Harden has let his beard grow and just won sixth man of the year on a team that is in the conference finals for the second year in a row.

Three years later, what do you think won out: Fit or talent?

I think it's too easy to aim to recreate the Thunder, but the model of success that the Pacers or 76ers might be more common. I mean, at this point I'd be happy for the team to reach the second round of the playoffs, and I think what those teams did was an intriguing model. They are sort of built around parts and pieces and hanging on to good players rather than waiting for saviors and superheroes.

You simply can't recreate the Thunder. Too many things worked out for that situation to work out. What would Oklahoma City be right now if Portland had taken Kevin Durant? It's also rare that a team has four top five picks in a three-year span - and hit big time on three of them.

As for the Indiana, Philadelphia or even the Denver model of getting top 10 players at every position and winning with depth. But you have to ask, is that enough? Detroit won by using a similar formula but it didn't get over the hump and win a title until it a truly elite talent in Rasheed Wallace. Wallace may have shunned the superstar status, but he was an incredible player. 

But most teams aren't winning championships without a bonafide star. And if you look at the teams in the Final Four, there really isn't a model that can be duplicated for a championship caliber team - other than getting players with high character, who are willing to work hard and be coached. But Miami got good with cap space. Boston got good with opportunistic trades and found money with Rajon Rondo. Oklahoma City built through the draft, just like San Antonio - but the Spurs got lucky with Tim Duncan and some late steals. Either way, truly competitive teams have elite talent. The Wizards should try to make the most of these opportunities to get elite talent in the draft and get complementary pieces accordingly.

Or are the pickings just slim? It doesn't seem like a very deep talent pool and whenever that happens the pundits seem to bloat up the top guy. It was the same kind of talk they had about John Wall. He hasn't blown anyone away.

I don't believe had the same kind of hype. I remember talking to some scouts and executives who weren't particuarly high on Wall before the lottery. And, he wasn't the clear-cut No. 1 choice (there was some Evan Turner chatter at the time).

Also, Davis led his team to a national title and is a big man in a league lacking quality players with size. Wall didn't get his team to the Final Four and entered the league at a time when point guard is the most difficult position.

This isn't to disparage Wall in any way, just trying to offer some perspective on the situation two years ago compared to right now. Davis is legit in my book.

HI Michael, Do you think the Wizards should take Sam Bowie or Michael Jordan?

No, no. Kwame Brown. All day.

Does the cream always rise to the top, or does it matter what cup it's poured into? I.e. would John Wall be a better player if he wasn't on a dysfunctional team? Les Boulez haven't had a star draft pick that I can remember - though it has drafted players who excelled after they left? Are we doomed to ruin whomever we pick?

For some unique, special players (i.e. LeBron James), they can land in dysfunctional situations and turn it around, no matter what. But it takes a truly gifted player to overcome really, really bad surroundings.

You have to remember, when Denver went from 17 wins to the playoffs in Carmelo Anthony's first year, the Nuggets surrounded him with veterans such as Andre Miller and Marcus Camby. Anthony was good, but he also thrived because the environment changed. LeBron changed the environment. I think the Wizards are finally realizing that Wall can't change the situation unless the situation around him gets better. Wall has proven to be a really, really good player. But he has lacked the professional environment needed for him to thrive. He's not ruined. Not hardly. The Wizards just have to give him a chance to reach his full potential. There is still so much there that hasn't been tapped.

How about trading the ENITRE wizard roster (minus John Wall) for the #1 spot and Anthony Davis?

Um, you going to play 2 on 5 for a full season?

How likely is a Blatche buyout and what type of player are they looking at in free agency? I heard some buzz around Jeff Green.

I can't find many people around the league who think that Blatche will be back or that he can be traded, which is really a strange situation. But the Wizards will do all that they can to move him again. If that doesn't happen, he becomes a prime candidate for the amnesty clause.

I could see the Wizards taking a flyer on Green. He's coming off a heart ailment, but he is expected to make a full recovery. I know he wouldn't mind playing at home and given Ted Leonsis's allegiances to Georgetown, why not? I think it's a matter of money, though.

All right folks, I've got to get out of here. It's been fun. I really enjoyed talking to you guys. Sorry that I couldn't get to all of your questions. Peace.

In This Chat
Michael Lee
Michael Lee covers the Wizards and the NBA for The Washington Post. You can follow his daily beat coverage on the Wizards Insider blog.
Recent Chats
  • Next: