Welcome to “Pretty Much Screwed,” our definitive guide to the upcoming NBA season. This team-by-team preview details why it’s probably not your favorite team’s year. Now we take a look at the Washington Wizards, who just traded a first round draft pick for Shannon Brown. Brilliant.
[USA Today] The Wizards and Suns agreed to a trade sending center Marcin Gortat and guards Shannon Brown, Malcolm Lee and Kendall Marshall to Washington for center Emeka Okafor and a 2014 first-round draft pick.
Dear Washington Wizards,
You should probably hang on to those first round draft picks. You can get good basketball players with them for very little money!
Teams don’t just go from worst to first in the NBA. It’s a slow climb. It’s a process. It takes lots of good, young players acquired through high draft picks and maybe a few useful free agent acquisitions. Just don’t tell Wizards’ GM Ernie Grunfeld that, who thinks leveraging the franchise’s future for an admittedly awesome (though over priced) role player will put this team over the top. He actually thinks this team is in a position to be pushed over the top. He thinks this team is a piece away from competing NOW.
Oh, and by over the top, we mean into the playoffs. Woohoo.
You’ve got to have a more ambitious goal than that. You’ve got to aim for a championship. The Suns get it. They’re rebuilding. They’re being patient and acquiring draft picks. The Wizards don’t get it. Their trading picks for expiring contracts. No bueno. Unless, of course, this move was made to make newly extended John Wall happy. He’ll beg his way out of town as soon as he realizes his talents are better suited for a team with other stars.
The Marcin Gortat/Emeka Okafor trade was interesting, if only because Okafor is hurt. Assuming he’ll be back in a month, Gortat and Okafor are the same basic type of defensive stopper-who-can-score-a-little-too in 2013.
Consider this trade a same/same expiring contract swap, and your left with this deal:
Shannon Brown and Kendall Marshall to Washington for a 1st round pick.
Exciting for no one. Especially Wizards fans.
Then again, can you really blame them for trading a draft pick when the last two lottery picks they’ve had are Jan Veselý and Otto Porter, who will be spending much of this season as cheerleaders?
Sure, John Wall looked great the second half of last season, and they still will have that big ass front court with Nene to pair with Gortat, but other than that, there’s nothing to get all that psyched about in D.C. Not unless you happen to be Martell Webster, who got a fat 4-year $22M deal for an uncharacteristically sharp-shooting 2012-13 season where he averaged 13.4 PPG on 45% shooting.
But you can’t talk about the Wiz without mentioning their epic turn around last season (their winning percentage improved every month from November on). If they can capitalize on that momentum — and Gortat can step out and hit jumpers like he’s shown he’s capable of — John Wall will be in a position to become that star he’s yet to materialize into.
We’ll see if he’s up to the task. Either way, their bench sucks (hi Al Harrington!)
Actual Season Prediction: 43-39. Seventh seed. Take the Bulls to five games. Don’t have a draft pick next season, but make a run at some of the big free agent targets with their expiring contract cap space. No one bites, because they’re still the Bullets.