Snider: Wizards Skipping Draft is a Step Back

by Rick Snider

Move along, Washington Wizards fans, there’s nothing to see in the NBA Draft for you. Skip over to the Gong Show because for the second straight year the Wiz are simply spectators.

Philadelphia’s getting Markelle Fultz with the first pick while the Los Angeles Lakers should choose Lonzo Ball. Boston’s getting Josh Jackson. These teams are getting better.

The Wiz traded away their first-rounder for a temporary player bound for free agency and the second-rounder to New Orleans on Wednesday for backup point guard Tim Frazier.

Did Bobby Beathard take over the Wiz? Because the old Redskins general manager loved trading top picks. The difference over Wiz GM Ernie Grunfeld is Beathard at least found talent in the draft. Grunfeld’s draft record is poor, so maybe stripping his chance of taking another European bust is for the best.

The upside of taking Frazier over a rookie is the former is a known quantity. He’s a decent offensive backup who distributes the ball well and can score moderately. Frazier averaged 11.2 points and 7.6 assists when starting 30 games last season for the Pelicans. But then, the Wiz would be in deep trouble if he started because John Wall averages twice as many points.

The Wiz needed a backup point guard, though, so Frazier fills a need. It’s just getting someone who played for three teams in three years with stops in Philadelphia and Portland shows he’s just a guy. There is no upside remaining.

But a second-rounder has upside, despite the NBA’s penchant for exiling them to the G League, known more for Gatorade than greatness. The Wiz could have taken Kansas guard Frank Mason or Iowa State’s guard Monte Morris with hopes of more than a few points per game. Maybe Frazier is better ready for this season, but the long term might have favored an incoming rookie.

The Wiz now have no draft options and plenty more roster spots to fill. Last season’s downside was caused by perhaps the NBA’s worst bench. Now the Wiz are rightfully clearing room for newcomers, but steady turnover is not how champions are built.

Oh, there’s plenty of talk of trading for Indiana’s Paul George. Actually, the Wiz have a better chance of getting Paul, George, Ringo and John than Paul George. Washington has no draft picks to offer the Pacers, but a popular scenario has the Wiz trading Otto Porter.

Now George is better than Porter, but not enough to justify what would be a one-year rental given George wants to play for his hometown Lakers in 2018. Maybe the Wiz could squeeze that one season into a title, but not without a better bench for starters.

Washington is back to its 1980s conundrum of being good, but not good enough to seriously contend, and lacking top draft picks to get better. They were stuck in so-so purgatory for years until finally collapsing for much of the next two decades.

The Wiz now face another season of relying heavily on Bradley Beal and Wall while hoping the bench doesn’t lose games. Maybe Frazier will make a difference.

Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter @Snide_Remarks.

Comments

One Comment

  1. Gerry Miller says:

    When the team you follow has draft picks, there is the exciting possibility that they just might find someone who becomes a star. When it is the 22th pick, there is a 1 in 5 chance that that player will become a solid NBA starter, and 65% of players picked at #22 end up been at the far end of the bench (or “Deep Bench” as Roland Beech termed it for 82games.com). That is why I was not upset that the Wizards used their 2017 1st round pick to get Bogdanovic, who was a positive factor in adding a few wins to their 2016-17 record. That same analysis (using 20 years of NBA draft history, from 1989-2008 showed that only 1 in 10 players drafted at #52 become even a role player in the NBA, while 65% of them are total busts or never play in any NBA game. Maybe someday Aaron White, who they picked at #49 in 2015, will actually play in an NBA game, but the odds are against it, and it sure does not look like White will even try to make an NBA team in the next few years.
    Tim Frazier has already shown that he can run an NBA offense, play both guard positions, and put up very good assist-to-turnover numbers. Why would anyone lament using that #52 pick to get a guy who will be ready to contribute on opening night this November? No, I do not think that Frazier will ever be a star in the NBA. But he is quite likely to become a steady backup who plays 20+ minutes per game on a good Wizards team. When the kids are hungry, it is better to use your $5 to buy a loaf of bread and bottle of milk instead of buying lottery tickets because there is a small probability that you will win. Re-watch the the tape of Trey Burke and Brandon Jennings trying to keep the Wizards in a game last season – Those kids were starving!

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