With the NBA Finals now behind us, we can start focusing on the offseason. The NBA draft will be held at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey on the 23rd of June and it will once again be an important stepping stone on the Washington Wizards' road to glory. A season ago, the Wizards won the draft lottery and unsurprisingly selected point guard John Wall at first overall. This year, they lost it, dropping from a would-be fourth overall pick to number six. They do, however, possess a second first-rounder, acquired in a trade with the Atlanta Hawks in which the Wiz lost Kirk Hinrich but also got shooting guard Jordan Crawford, who broke through big time as a member of the team and established himself as a player who will be at the forefront of this team's plans for many years to come.
In terms of organizational depth, there aren't very many areas where the Wizards could improve drastically in the coming draft. Though the drafting techniques used by this team are often criticized, the team has been smart in picking up the players they have. They have great young talents already in the team, with Wall at point guard, Crawford at shooting guard,Javale McGee at center, Andray Blatche at power forward, and Nick Young at small forward. The biggest need for the Wizards going into this year's offseason is a true power forward, and fortunately for them there are some great ones available early in the 2011 draft. Here is a look at some players to watch for when the Wizards pick their future stars at number 6 and number 18 overall.
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1. Enes Kanter - PF/C - Kentucky
A Turkish freshman from the same program as John Wall, Kanter is reportedly desperate to be drafted by the Wizards. He is a big man with a lot of brute strength, but has soft hands and is a tremendous rebounder. Has a high motor and is willing to learn. At 6-11, 259 pounds he likely lacks the size required to be an effective center at the NBA level, so don't be surprised if the Wizards convert him to that position of need at power forward, a position scouts say he will be more than capable of playing. Derrick Williams, the best power forward in the draft, will be gone by the time the Wizards pick. Kanter is the second best, and he is apparently ready to do anything to drop to number six where the Wizards will pick up an absolute steal.
2. Donatas Motiejunas - PF - Benetton Treviso (Italy)
A left-handed Lithuanian playing in Italy, Motiejunas is a big man who has a lot of potential. Has the highest ceiling of maybe any draft-eligible player. At 7 feet he has terrific size, and has a terrific jumper. The one weakness that the Wizards would definitely need to work on is that he doesn't always bring it. He sometimes seems to settle for just being the best player, rather than dominating the court like he can. Good shot-blocker, good rebounder, great talent, but doesn't bring the attitude that Kanter brings. Has the potential to be a great, like Gasol or Nowitzki, but he definitely has things he needs to work on. Projects as potential starting power forward as soon as next season is he works hard over the summer.
3. Kawhi Leonard - SF - San Diego State
A player that the Wizards have shown interest in, Leonard brings a lot of energy and a lot of athleticism to the small forward position. Could find a place in Washington as Nick Young prefers the shooting guard position and is willing to go head to head with Crawford over playing time. He will probably end up a perimeter player at the NBA level. He is a defensive player as opposed to an offensive one, and his biggest weakness is that no offensive aspect of his game stands out as being particularly strong. His other challenge is that at 6-7 he doesn't have the size of some of the other small forwards in the league have. That said, he has a good wingspan that allows him to rise above blockers on his solid jumpshot.
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1. Tristan Thompson - PF - Texas
Thompson is a Canadian freshman power forward that would provide more cover at the position. A great athlete with an outrageous wingspan, he is a great rebounder and great defensively and in the transitional game. At 6-9, he may be a little short to be a really effective power forward at the NBA level. He is a 1991 born player, meaning he is a year older than most of his class. He is a diligent worker and will develop fully quicker than most, so he is appealing to teams needing immediate help at that position.
2. Klay Thompson - SG - Washington State
A player with good size for a shooting guard, Thompson brings a lot of qualities to the table. He is a hard-worker with a great mid-range jump shot that he gets off quickly and in tight corners. He is a solid defensive player with good anticipation. He isn't a very good athlete and often fades late in games, and he doesn't have great speed which shows in the transition game. He would have a difficult time finding a place on the Wizards roster as there is a lot of competition at the shooting guard position, but long term he projects as a good bench player provided Young settles at the small forward position. Solid pick-up for the Wizards.
3. Chris Singleton - SF/PF - Florida State
Singleton's claim to being drafted is that he is a brilliant defensive player; one of the very best in the draft. His athleticism and instincts make him a real shutdown guy. He is an explosive and dynamic player with good leadership skills. Despite his strong athletic skills, he needs to work on his quickness as well as his jump shot. He is an older player but is still a few years away from being a solid NBA player. A 6-9, 230 pound junior with good size and length, Singleton would join a small corps of talented small forwards in Washington. Would be able to get a roster spot, but may never develop into more than a solid bench player with the Wizards.
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