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Friday, May 31st, 2013 at 11:00 am  |  30 responses

Anthony Bennett, No. 3 (Mock)

The Wizards roll the dice on a potentially potent big man.

by Abe Schwadron / @abe_squad

Wizards fans are used to disappointment. We’re familiar with the feeling of momentary optimism followed by heart-wrenching depths of despair. “Things Fall Apart” might as well be the team tagline (oh, you preferred “New Traditions?”). And yet, here we are again, presented with a new opportunity to get our hopes up. We do it each year around this time, and each year it seems real.

John Wall played near All-Star levels when healthy. Bradley Beal, if not for injuries of his own, might have given Dame Lillard serious run for Rookie of the Year honors. Other pieces, like Martell Webster, emerged as real parts of a winning puzzle down the back half of the season. And the Wiz even cashed in at the Draft Lottery—an event at which Washington fans by now expect to get shafted on a yearly basis—jumping up from No. 8 into the top three.

Dare I say it: This time around, there could be a legitimate Playoff team on the horizon. I say so cautiously, but only because of the name atop the team’s roster.

That said, there’s still a way for Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld to screw this up. Because, well, he’s Ernie Grunfeld, the only GM in the League who could hold onto his job for a decade performing as poorly as he has; Washington’s latest trip to the Lottery was its fifth straight.

If there is a God, he’ll let Otto Porter fall to No. 3, where he is a no-brainer selection for the Wizards. Or, perhaps even if Cleveland does go for OP (don’t do it, please don’t do it *Drake voice*), the Magic will take a guard like Trey Burke or Ben McLemore, leaving the Nerlens Noel project to the Wiz.

Seeing Porter and Noel go 1-2, though? It’d be an abject disaster.

Not necessarily because of a lack of potential upside in the third-best player in this year’s Draft class, whoever it may be. But because forcing Grunfeld to figure out who that guy is from a second tier that might include up to a dozen players is about as frightening as it can get for Wizards fans.

Good thing I’m running the show today.

 

With the third pick in the 2013 SLAMonline Mock Draft, the Washington Wizards select…

Anthony Bennett from UNLV.

The irony here, of course, is that had the Wizards not vaulted to the No. 3 pick via the fortuitous bounce of a ping pong ball, they may still have had the opportunity to take Bennett, since—as we’ve already seen in our own mock draft—this year, more than any in recent memory, there is no real consensus on how the top picks will shuffle out.

I don’t expect both Porter and Noel to be off the board when Washington goes on the clock at No. 3. But stranger things have happened. And there’s definitely some strange ish going on in that Cleveland front office. So if that’s the way it goes down, and the Wizards don’t trade the pick in a lack-of-Porter panic, Anthony Bennett can go ahead and slip on a red, white and blue uni and settle into his locker next to Nene.

Why?

Consider the options the Wizards would have with the third pick in this scenario…

Burke, the only point guard in the mix this high, is off the board, with respects to John Wall. And while I’ve enjoyed watching Shabazz Muhammad’s high school mixtape as much as the next guy, I’d much prefer to watch his NBA career play out with another team. Cody Zeller? I’ll pass.

That leaves two ways Washington could lean. One, go for a big like Bennett or Maryland’s Alex Len. Or two, if the team feels that McLemore or Victor Oladipo is far and away the best talent available, draft a third guard and figure out a way to fit him in without upsetting the Wall/Beal backcourt dynamic.

Bradley Beal has already proven that he can be a starting shooting guard in the League. No matter what you think of McLemore and Oladipo as prospects, they’ve yet to prove anything in the pros. Beal has. And if you select a guard, well, it’s either to come off the bench, or play small at the 3, surrendering a mismatch every night on a defensive-minded Wizards squad.

Then there’s this: On 2013 Draft night, Oladipo will be 21, McLemore 20. Beal won’t turn 20 until the following day—and he’s the one who’s shown he can score in the L. Neither McLemore nor Oladipo stacks up to Beal, no way.

All of which leaves Len and Bennett as the best bets for DC in this situation. Both are working through injury issues, though both should be dealt with come Opening Night 2013.

Len, a 7-1 import from Ukraine, is long, has nice athleticism and good footwork. He has the physical tools to eventually be effective on defense, and already a soft touch on offense. He’s probably a lock to be a decent center, sure. To me, though, Len’s upside is limited.

If it’s a big the Wizards want, they need a banger, not a finesse player. They need someone willing to mix it up, someone who can body and bruise the opponent, and might dunk on your face, too. Hello, Anthony Bennett.

Yes, he’s undersized (6-8 playing PF). But there’s no denying that when he wants to be, this dude is a beast. 18.5 ppg on 52 percent field goal shooting, 8.4 rpg and 1.4 blocks a night in his freshman year at UNLV, Bennett has a 7-1 wingspan and knows how to throw his 240 pounds around.

Bennett’s upside is as high as any player in this year’s draft class. He’s already a great offensive rebounder, finisher and shooter for his position, and he’d be a perfect running mate in the open court for Wall. He can score inside, he can score outside, and he can attack off the bounce. Experience-wise, he played in the ’09 and ’10 FIBA World Championships (for Canada).

I’ll take Bennett’s unique combination of size and skill, and his 20 ppg NBA potential over Len’s ceiling as a starting center, even if he has had passive defensive efforts in patches—something that hopefully, at the urging of Wall, Beal and his coaches, can be fixed.

Bottom line is, while my man-crush on Porter is well-documented, if he or Nerlens can’t be had, I’m rolling the dice on a potentially potent big in Bennett, rather than upsetting or supplanting what is for once in several years a rosy Wizards’ backcourt situation. If Bennett hits big, Washington could finally find itself back in the postseason. If he fails in epic fashion, Washington could finally fire Ernie Grunfeld.

Either way, it’s change we can believe in.

2013 SLAMonline Mock Draft
Pick Team Player Pick Team Player
1 Cavs Otto Porter 16 Celtics  
2 Magic Nerlens Noel 17 Hawks  
3 Wizards Anthony Bennett 18 Hawks  
4 Bobcats   19 Cavs  
5 Suns   20 Bulls  
6 Pelicans   21 Jazz  
7 Kings   22 Nets  
8 Pistons   23 Pacers  
9 TWolves   24 Knicks  
10 Blazers   25 TWolves  
11 Sixers   26 Clippers  
12 Thunder   27 Nuggets  
13 Mavs   28 Spurs  
14 Jazz   29 Thunder  
15 Bucks   30 Suns  
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  • Max

    I’m kinda hoping the Wizards have some bad luck next season so they have a good pick again next year, Then you have 4 (maybe 3) very promising young players in Wall, Beal, (this years pick) and next years pick.
    Even tho I wouldn’t be mad would they make the playoffs.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    quick question, Bennett is hurt currently. you think Washington will take a flyer on a guy they can’t work out Abe?

  • http://tddaily.com/ Abe Schwadron

    Yeah, supposedly his shoulder should be fine later this summer. Can’t see them ruling him out just because of that…

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    word, i just don’t know much or anything about how Washington’s front office is about knowing what they are getting / trusting their scouts.

  • spit hot fiyah

    i really like bennet, health is the big ?. i think him and oladipo will end being the best pros in this draft. his first few months at unlv were pretty amazing

  • davidlovesbasketball

    i know it’s a tough call, but i would rather draft mclemore. i know we already have a good backcourt, but ben mclemore is better talent than anthony bennett. always draft for best talent available. and besides, bennett is a little undersized to play the 4 (as a starter), and is not quick enough to play the 3. he is essentially a rich man’s trevor booker.

  • Mars

    Bennett over Oladipo?

  • Mars

    Yeah, cause Dwight’s shoulder healed real quick

  • spit hot fiyah

    the reasoning being that beal is their 2-guard of the future

  • http://twitter.com/niQknacks niQ

    Nice pick. Would’ve done the same in this scenario.

  • GMR

    Poor man’s Trevor Booker, I’m confident you meant.

  • spit hot fiyah

    he is a btter version of booker who can actually do more offensively, so rich man’s booker

  • Mars

    I know, i am a big advocate for Beal, but Oladipo or McLemore might be too good too pass on.

  • Aboot Time

    Team USA, watch out! We comin’ for ya in 2016!

  • Sajjatam Tp Kulsomboon

    I am just really curious how Zeller just got passed on so easily. Sure, he had a lackluster sophomore year, but his combine results were quite impressive.
    I am not saying “Take Zeller!” but as you said this year’s top group is wide open. I think an athletic long guy like Zeller should have been considered more than just a simple “I’ll pass” for a severely undersized currently injured power-forward.

    But then again, this is a mock draft. Go wild.

  • http://twitter.com/stepfdelaghetto Stepfan Raiford

    Nah Max, I’m tired of being the laughing stock of the league.

  • Max

    But one more year of bottom dwelling and they could have 4 potential allstars.

  • Datkid

    I agree… set the league on fire for a while. then tank FURIOUSLY and get wiggins. then walk into the finals with a young HOF bound starting 5 a la OKC.

  • Max

    Haha, that would be awesome.

  • Redd

    …lol

  • Blakos

    Ernie Grunsfield is such a scrub

  • Blakos

    Okafor’s contract gives me nightmares.

  • Blakos

    One more tank for the Wiz? I have a feeling the Wiz will make the playoffs this year. Which ruins my 2014 draft dream…..

  • nich obert

    Why? This is the last year of it, he had the 6th best defensive rating of any big last year and he was an excellent rebounder. Oh, and he will be really really easy to trade if we are ok with taking on a long term deal.
    Ad he was the guy who called Wałl out and made Wałl bloom into a star.

  • nich obert

    Set it on fire for awhile last year.

    Teams who start 4-28 aren’t supposed to win 25 of their next 45 games with the 2nd best defense In the league, the 6th best 3pt shooting and the 8th best point differential.

    Tanking would be really counterproductive now. These guys realize they’re able to compete with anyone.

  • nich obert

    Yea, people think Booker can play d because he’s energetic, but he gets ROASTED. Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton are significantly better defenders at the 4. That’s saying a lot!
    Booker is also perpetually hurt and has zero offensive skills. If he’s lucky he’ll turn into a poor mans Craig Smith, as it is, he’s a poor mans Reggie Evans because he’s an average rebounder , a guy who talks a lot, can’t defend, can’t score,

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  • Blakos

    Well when they traded for him he had two years left and a bloated contract. You know hes getting 15 mil right? This limited Washington’s ability to sign/trade for someone better and develop our younger big men etc.That contract size is massive, sure he is solid on defensive. But he is average at best on offense. ‘He called Wall out and made Wall Bloom into a star” LOL. GTFOH. You are are ignoring so many variables on Wall’s development its laughable.

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