No D.C. teams in action yesterday, so we’ll start off with an article from ESPN about the NBA draft. For those of you who don’t have ESPN Insider, Chad Ford is breaking down the best fit for each of the current lottery teams, if they were to win the No. 1 overall pick. It’s a mixture of Ben McLemore, Marcus Smart and Nerlens Noel, with McLemore the choice for most teams. However, Ford’s choice for the Wizards is Noel. Interesting.
I’ll grant you that neither Smart nor McLemore makes sense for the Wizards, given that the backcourt of Wall and Beal looks set for the next decade. However, I’m not sure that means Noel is the go-to choice here. In a draft so weak at the top, what’s the big deal with reaching for someone who might be a better fit for your team (like an Otto Porter or Cody Zeller)?
Noel is clearly a talented big man, with a lot of upside. And the Wizards don’t have any young big men at the center position (Booker, Singleton and Vesely are all essentially 3/4 hybrids. Kevin Seraphin sucks). So this is an area of need. However, I’m not sure the Wizards are at the stage where they want to spend a high-value pick on a developmental big man with little to no offensive game. If this was really an area that they wanted to address, they should have asked for Fab Melo in the Jordan Crawford trade. Both Melo and Noel are defense-first players with an extremely raw offensive game.
Even if Noel does have more upside than Melo, he might not even be ready for the start of the season. His development is going to be pushed back. Expectations for him to be anything more than a mop-up player in his rookie season seem unrealistic. And Wizards’ management has openly talked about aiming for a “playoff-type situation” (aspirations for the No. 9 seed! Shoot for the stars, guys!). Does Noel really profile as a guy who can come right and give this team that extra boost to make the playoffs? I’m skeptical.
All of this is probably a moot point, considering the Wizards’ play of late. My guess is they’ll end the season somewhere in the middle of the lottery, picking in the 6-9 range. So we’ll probably be discussing players like Zeller, Shabazz Muhammad and Alex Len (don’t get me started) come April, not Noel.
On a related note, I think right now there is a clear drop-off after the top 9 players in this draft. Consider:
- Top 9 (in any order you so choose): Marcus Smart, Ben McLemore, Nerlens Noel, Cody Zeller, Otto Porter, Victor Oladipo, Shabazz Muhammad, Alex Len, Anthony Bennett
- Next 5 players (according to Ford’s Big Board): Gary Harris, Michael Carter-Williams, Alex Poythress, Willie Cauley-Stein, Mason Plumlee. Yuck.
So if you’re wondering how far the Wizards can rise without affecting the player they get in the draft, I would say anywhere through pick No. 9. After that, there is a drop-off.
Anyway, that’s just food for thought from an off day.
- Next game: tonight vs. Knicks 7 PM ET/ 6 PM CT
Nationals: The Nats and Mets tied 4-4 yesterday. Some box score thoughts:
- Anthony Rendon continues to rake. Another extra-base hit. Can’t wait until this guy is in the show. “Superstar if he stays healthy” -Andrew Struckmeyer, driver of the Rendon Bandwagon. All aboard.
- Stephen Strasburg gave up another run, but he struck out six batters in his three innings of work. I think he’s a guy that is just going to give up runs in spring training because guys are gonna run into his fastball, and it’ll go a long ways. No cause for concern.
- Carlos Rivero continues to see time in the outfield. He still is an extreme long-shot to make the club but it’s interesting that he’s really embracing the utility player role.
In other news, apparently Alex Meyer looked great against the Red Sox the other day. You had better be good, Denard Span.
Capitals: Just a quick link to pass along: Filip Forsberg, one of the team’s top prospects, was named the top Under-20 player in the Swedish league he’s playing in this year. It’s a nice sign that there is real talent in the Caps pipeline. This year just might not be the year.
Also, if you thought this year’s draft was just a two-player draft with Seth Jones and Nathan MacKinnon, check out this video (near the bottom) of the third-best prospect in this draft, Jonathan Drouin. Impressive stuff.
- Next game: Saturday @ Winnipeg 3 PM ET/ 2 PM CT