Monday, May 7, 2012

Shooting down Thomas Robinson to the Wizards

Trust me on this: I do not take any NBA mock draft seriously at this point, especially since - hello! - we do not have an actual draft order. However, since we know the Wizards will pick no worse than fifth and the draft class is largely set, we have a good feel for their likely options in that range should they miss out on the consensus overall number one pick, Kentucky's Anthony Davis.

Kansas star and D.C. area native Thomas Robinson is among them. The chiseled power forward is a double-double machine and the junior sports a non-stop motor that teams looking for an interior option will surely consider.

The question is whether the Wizards are one of those teams.

Apparently SBNation's Tom Ziller says yes. Yours truly says unless it's the shot blocking Davis, not so much, not right now.

After slotting Davis to the abysmal Charlotte Bobcats with the overall number one pick, Ziller sent Robinson back home with the No. 2 selection.

"A franchise that so believed in its ability to morph men it gave Gilbert Arenas a near-max after an ACL tear, extended Andray Blatche before he hit the market and hung with JaVale McGee for more than three years has changed so much that there's no chance it touches Andre Drummond with a fishing pole. Robinson's heart and work ethic will make some GM overlook his size and potential to be great in any one area."

Right now in terms of interior options, Robinson is the top non-Davis call for the Wizards, ranking above the likes of UConn's Drummond and Ohio State's under-the-rim wide-body Jared Sullinger. I agree there is zippy chance that at two the Wizards select the powerful but truly raw Drummond, even though another prominent NBA draft site has that marriage taking place.

If indeed the Wizards go big over small, the energetic Robinson is the logical call.

But considering the current roster makeup - an intriguing frontcourt with Nene and kids but a lineup devoid of shooters - adding a perimeter or wing weapon makes the most sense.

Whether John Wall's growth stagnated during his second-season or not, he remains the team's primary building block. As a starter or bench scoring spark, Jordan Crawford gets buckets - but like Wall, he's not a pure shooter, especially outside of the lane. Same goes for just about everyone one on the team.

The Wizards current frontcourt rotation includes the Brazilian center whose presence ignited a late-season surge and three recent first-round picks: Trevor Booker, Kevin Seraphin and the No. 6 overall pick in last year's draft, Jan Vesely. Forget about Andray Blatche and Rashard Lewis, neither of whom is likely back in D.C. next season.

Both the athletic Booker and the shot-making Seraphin improved greatly as second-year players this past season. Though not the same player as Seraphin, Vesely's game as a rookie exceeded the Frenchman’s and his instincts are legitimate. Granted his shot outside of five feet is not, but that area can be worked on. If Vesely's NBA career someday proves memoir-worthy, the chapter involving this upcoming summer will hopefully be titled something like "10,000 shots - basketball, not alcohol".

That's not a completely proven core, but entering the third-year of Ernie Grunfeld's 3-year plan, it's a group worth sticking with. That means in round one, Grunfeld can focus elsewhere.

If Robinson joins that mix, then a first rounder is sitting. Unless a new addition is a much-needed veteran, the Wizards' kids have shown enough to warrant minutes. Maybe further analysis of the former Riverdale Baptist star shows he's worthy of shaking up the group, especially if his measured height proves closer to 6-foot-10 rather than a feared two-to-three inches shorter. Obviously there could be a trade, something the Wizards would be wise to explore should they miss out on Davis.

But simply taking Robinson because of his All-American resume does not address the Wizards actual needs.

Florida's shooting guard Bradley Beal, who ESPN's draft honcho Chad Ford ranks third overall and one spot ahead of Robinson on his prospects list, does. Kentucky's Michael Kidd-Gilchrist currently lacks consistent shooting touch outside of 15-feet, but based on position, the small forward is another option that makes more depth chart sense.

If the Wizards fall to five and Robinson is there, that's a different scenario, especially if Beal and MKG are off the board. Then a potential trade really makes sense.

Should the Wizards go big early, they can target a shooter with one of their two second-round picks, including the valuable 32nd selection. That is something to contemplate, but not a scenario worth altering the first selection over.

The Wizards must take the best player available in the first round, but ties go to the outside the paint players. If the argument other mock drafters make in the weeks to come is Robinson is a cut above, fine, but I'm still looking hard at Beal and others. If the take is Robinson's potential dramatically exceeds those currently on the roster, I'm willing to listen but not ready to bite or believe. If the take is simply the Wizards need bigs over shooters, count me out.

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