draft recap: the wiz

The Washington Wizards used their first round draft pick, 18th overall, to select JaVale McGee, out of Nevada. He’s a seven footer, who weighs in at around 240 lbs., and apparently has the wingspan of a Buick. Doing a little homework, I’ve seen him compared to Portland Trail Blazers forward Channing Frye and Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum, although Bynum outweighs him by roughly 35 lbs.

“Very talented,” said Jay Bilas, when describing McGee during ESPN’s NBA draft coverage. “He’s got good shot mechanics, he can step away and hit the little soft turnaround jumper and he uses the glass really well. He needs to move his feet a little bit better, but he’s got a lot of potential.”

And even though the panel of experts covering the draft considered McGee to the Wiz a little bit of a reach (Chad Ford had him ranked the 26th-best prospect), basketball apologist Michael Wilbon loved the pick. Not surprisingly, I don’t agree with him.

Wilbon wrote that getting a legit big man was priority number one because “anybody who spent any time watching the Washington Wizards over the last four years could see the Wizards weren’t big enough, strong enough or physically tough enough to be a serious playoff contender.”

While McGee excels as a shot blocker, (he told one beat writer, “If I were in a video game right now, shotblocking would be a 90”) one of his biggest weaknesses is his one-on-one defense. On top of that, the words “project” and “raw” are word commonly used to describe McGee.

The Wiz don’t need a guy who can help them three or four years from now. They have a stack of big bodies, including Brendan Haywood, Etan Thomas, Andray Blatche, Darius Songalia and Oleksiy Pecherov. What they need is either a back-up point guard or someone who is an above-average defender (or best-case scenario, a back-up point guard who plays above-average defense). D.C. is full of projects (in more ways than one). They could have done without McGee, who is described by his hometown newspaper as not ready for prime time. Sure, he’s got potential, but as a wise man once told me — “Potential is just another way of sayin’, ain’t done shit yet.”

That nifty photo at the top of this entry is a shot I took earlier this year of Georgetown center Roy Hibbert, who was drafted one spot before the Wizards were on the clock. If the hometown team was going to have to coach up a youngster with potential, it would have been much more enjoyable if it were Hibbert.

(photo by Brian Murphy)

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