Last night the Barclays Center in Brooklyn hosted the 2014 NBA Draft, the annual event that gives hope to fans of underperforming franchises everywhere that their team might just get lucky and snag a future superstar who will take them to the promised land of the NBA playoffs or, maybe just maybe, a NBA title. The Washington Wizards at the beginning of the night held just one pick, the 16th selection in the second round or 46th overall, whichever way you prefer to look at it. Their first round pick this year was in possession of the Phoenix Suns who received it from Washington just before the start of last season in exchange for Marcin Gortat. If we can manage to keep Marcin with the team this year and beyond, that trade was probably totally worth it. But the second round has yielded some gems for other teams. Why not us?
Last night was the third time in my 14 years of being a Wizards season ticket holder that the Wizards were without a first round draft pick. In 2005, the Orlando Magic had our selection as a result of a 2001 trade featuring a protected draft pick in exchange for Brendan Haywood. In 2009, we traded the number five overall pick to Minnesota for one year of Mike Miller and Randy Foye, one of the worst mistakes this franchise has made in the last decade and a half.
Unless I'm on a plane flying to Germany like last year, I watch the draft religiously until the Wizards' picks are complete and then hit the sack. Since we were sitting at 46, I knew last night would be a long one. Despite the maximum five minutes per selection allotted in the first round, the draft never manages to pack 12 picks in an hour. Even though each team pretty much knows exactly who they are going to take, the possibility of some other team calling and making an offer too good to be true forces each pick to last the maximum amount of time. Then there's a minute or two extra while the Commissioner announces the pick and the clock re-sets.
I know next to absolutely nothing about college and international basketball so I generally have no educated opinion about who the franchise should draft. For me, the draft is all about rumored blockbuster trades that rarely happen and learning a little something about the player or players my team manages to trade for or draft. In terms of excitement, 2010 was perhaps the best Wizards draft ever, with the team holding the number one overall pick (John Wall) at the beginning of the night and pulling off two draft day trades to acquire the 17th (Kevin Seraphin) and 23rd (Trevor Booker) picks. The worst year for me was 2005, when I waited all the way to the 49th pick to hear Andray Blatche's name called and the announcers proceeded to say absolutely nothing about Andray, presumably because they had no idea who he was.
So last night I set my expectations bar at the 2005 draft level, knowing I'd have to stay up late but hoping that the folks at ESPN knew something more than nothing about whoever the Wizards would end up drafting at number 46. That moment came at about 11:35, way past my bedtime, when the Wizards selected Jordan Clarkson out of the University of Missouri. OK, so he's a point guard. That's cool, we drafted one two years ago who we can't get to come over from Europe and play for us and we have Andre Miller who's almost 40 as our backup. Makes sense. What did ESPN tell me about him? His father battled cancer. That's it.
Then about two minutes later came word on Twitter that we sold the pick to the Los Angeles Lakers for some cash (about $2 million). Draft over. I stayed up until 11:40ish for that? Very disappointed. I was tired this morning and the team has no more players than it did last night before the draft started.
I'm not really that upset, but I should be. The reason I'm not that upset is that the team's track record of drafting and developing talent quite honestly is not that good so I had really very little confidence that we would have made anything out of the pick unless we just got super super lucky. I should be upset not about trading the pick necessarily but that I have no confidence we could have done anything with the player in that slot once he arrived in Washington. I'm jaded I guess.
In the 14 years I've been a season ticket holder, I've never seen a second round pick pan out. Well, not with our franchise anyway; Shelvin Mack played pretty well with Atlanta this year. I've seen a number of other teams make something of a second rounder or draft an international player and bring him over a couple of years later with some success. The Wizards have drafted three international players in the second round (Juan Carlos Navarro, Vladamir Veremeenko and Tomas Satoransky) since I've been with the team and I've yet to see any of them take the court in a Wizards uniform. I'm adding this to my concerns list about this team, right behind the fact that we do not have a single affiliation with a D-League franchise.
Best draft in 9 years and the Wizards emerge with a couple of bucks. On to Summer League. Two weeks! Can't wait!