Wall To Wall

WALL TO WALL: A midseason progress report of the rebuild of the Washington Wizards

John Wall has taken that next step towards superstardom. Winning the Slam Dunk contest was great, but being honored as a member of the Eastern Conference All-Stars is a major step in his growth as a superstar.

Selected first overall in the 2010 NBA draft, Wall was a “no brainer”. Fortunately for the Wizards franchise, the ping pong balls all bounced the right way, enabling them to hold the post position in the draft.

ESPN’s Bill Simmons, who has grown as THE source for NBA, did a long form interview for his popular “Grantland” website. Simmons addition to NBA studio coverage has cemented his place in NBA circles and the exposure for Wall is huge.

The Wizards were fortunate to select third overall in the 2012 NBA draft and took Bradley Beal, who they hope to be Wall’s backcourt mate for at least the remainder of the decade.

Beal himself made a run All-Star weekend, losing the Three Point shootout in a playoff to Marco Belinelli. The dynamic duo has the new nickname “Hustle and Flow”

Washington had a playoff run with Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler and Gilbert Arenas, unfortunately drawing the Cleveland Cavaliers and Lebron James in the first round.

The “rebuild” should have started in the 2009 NBA draft, but General Manager Ernie Grunfeld decided to make one more run at it, trading for veteran guards Mike Miller and Randy Foye. Miller and Foye spent only one injury plagued season in DC, but the No.5 draft pick traded away lingers. Minnesota selected Ricky Rubio with the Wizards pick and could have also taken Stephen Curry.

The year following “Wall” was also a miss. Picking sixth overall in the 2011 NBA Draft, Grunfeld continued his love for European players, selecting Jan Vesely. Washington had worked out San Diego State forward Kawhi Leonard, who ended up a steal at No.15 to San Antonio. The Wizards did get the “gift” of Chris Singleton and Jordan Crawford in a series of trades that also involved Kirk Hinrich. Shelvin Mack in the second round was a miss, especially with Florida All-American Chandler Parsons taken four picks later by Houston. Crawford would eventually be “given” away to ease locker room tension, but certainly had value.

The Beal selection in 2012 was, at a minimum, solid. Damian Lillard went three picks later and Andre Drummond three more after that. The second round selection of Tomas Satoransky was puzzling, I was hoping for Kentucky guard Doron Lamb, who went ten picks later. Lamb was an McDonald’s All-American in High School and managed a Final Four and a National Championship in his only two seasons with the Wildcats.

The 2013 NBA Draft must be termed an incomplete. Overall, it looks like one of the worst in recent memory. Washington again with fortune in the lottery and selected Georgetown small forward Otto Porter No.3 overall. I was hoping for a post player, Cody Zeller, Nerlens Noel or local favorite Alex Len. Porter has been injured and his impact is undetermined. The 2nd round selection of Glen Rice Jr appears to be good value at this early juncture.

The 2014 NBA draft is setting up as the most talent laden in more than 20 years. Needing a big man with Emeka Okafor down indefinitely, Grunfeld traded the ailing center and the ’14 No.1 pick for center Marcin Gortat. Gortat has been better than expected and should lead the Wizards back to the playoffs this Spring. As part of the Gortat deal, the Wizards received point guard Kendall Marshall from Phoenix. The No.13 pick in the 2012 draft was promptly cut, despite the team’s search for a backup PG to Wall. Marshall is now starting for the Lakers and putting up some ridiculous numbers. The Wizards draft pick is lottery protected, so a breakdown in the season’s second half would keep the pick in Washington.

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