With the NBA Draft order now set, a consensus is forming about what will happen at the top of the draft. Many mock drafts have Nerlens Noel going No.1 overall to the Cleveland Cavaliers and one of a quartet of guard prospects (Ben McLemore, Trey Burke, Victor Oladipo and C.J. McCollum) going to the Orlando Magic at the No.2 spot.
At the No.3 overall pick, Otto Porter is the favorite to be selected by the Washington Wizards. It’s no secret that owner Ted Leonsis expects his Wizards to make the playoffs next season, making Porter a “safe” pick for Washington. Described as polished and NBA-ready, Porter instantly upgrades Washington’s playoff chances.
Long-term though, the ultimate goal is for Washington to contend for championships, and Porter’s potential doesn’t suggest he’ll turn Washington into a championship contender.
Last year’s Big East Player of the Year, Porter compares favorably to fellow Georgetown alum and current Boston Celtics forward Jeff Green. Neither has an elite NBA skill and both are the type of players that would rather fit in than stand out.
Don’t get me wrong, every team needs these types of players, they just shouldn’t be selected at the top of the draft. Washington has two potential star players in Bradley Beal and John Wall, but a look around the league shows that to contend you need three. Washington is hardly ever a player in free agency, making the No.3 overall pick their best chance to acquire a third star.
Forward Anthony Bennett and center Alex Len have the talent and potential to become such stars. The red flag on both is their bust potential, but what draft prospects don’t carry this risk?
“Can’t miss” and “safe” are terms constantly tossed around come draft time but they hold no true meaning. Greg Oden was a “can’t miss” prospect in the 2007 NBA Draft and he’s done nothing but miss the last three seasons.
Just last year, Thomas Robinson was labeled a “safe” pick and he already has washed out with the Sacramento Kings, who selected him No.6 overall and later traded him to the Houston Rockets for Patrick Patterson!
The draft is a crapshot and will always remain so. With the sting from the bust, formerly known as Kwame Brown, still felt throughout Washington, there is a fear to select a player solely off potential.
To quote Will Smith — or whatever his character’s name is in the movie “After Earth” — “fear is a choice.” Washington doesn’t have to let Michael Jordan’s mistake years ago scar this franchise.
If Washington does decide to let the ghost of Brown scare them away from a potential star, then they are ultimately choosing to become the Atlanta Hawks — an irrelevant playoff team with no hope of winning a championship.
During their lost seasons, Washington sold their fans on the hope of what the Wizards could potentially be. Potential kept Washington’s Verizon Center from being a ghost town on game nights and it can bring them a championship — if Washington so chooses.