About two weeks in the past “a buddy” of mine from the 202 ran into ESPN’s Zach Lowe at a bar outdoors his Harlem residence. Inevitably, “my buddy” ruined the temper by relating the Washington Wizards, compelling Lowe to hunch over. To say it was a vibe killer is an understatement. I’ll neither verify nor deny that I’m the nameless Wizards stan, however that’s irrelevant.
But when that’s what the mere point out of the Washington Wizards can do to a basketball junkie, simply think about how damaging it’s for the psyche of a complete technology of the town’s inhabitants. It’s sufficient to fracture even probably the most secure psyche. This offseason the Wizards jettisoned the final vestiges of the Ernie Grunfeld government tree by firing his former deputy, Tommy Sheppard.
The Wizards are bottoming out. Washington is unhealthy this season. They’re taking part in at a breakneck tempo with probably the most immature roster since Javaris Crittenton and Gilbert Arenas’ locker room excessive -oon showdown. Jordan Poole and Kyle Kuzma are firing at will, placing dents within the rim and taking part in sloppier protection. With one eye educated on Washington’s ghastly lineup, the eyes of one of many league’s most hopeless franchises is concentrated on the decrease rungs of basketball.
Sadly, Washington is tanking for the flawed draft. Not like 2023’s version, the 2024 NBA Draft is devoid of a generational expertise on the high. Shepherd may have traded Beal earlier than the 2022 commerce deadline, however selected to take a position a long-term contract in Beal, then waited till he and Kristaps Porzingis had helped them win simply sufficient video games to finish up within the mushy center between lacking the play-in AND prevented placing themselves in place to to win the draft lottery. Per week after the draft, his successor traded Beal to Phoenix for property which they flipped into Poole.
Three developments this week forged an excellent longer shadow over the Wizards longer than the Victor Wembanyama’s. One was the aforementioned Wembnayama scoring 38 on Phoenix, the opposite was Washington getting run off the ground by the Philadelphia 76ers. The 146-128 loss dropped the Wizards to 1-5, with their lone loss coming towards the winless Memphis Grizzlies.
The very last thing was ESPN’s chief draft analyst,Jonathan Govony dropping his top 25 ranking of 2024 prospects. Any one of many high 10 prospects may wind up being the most effective participant within the class. Nevertheless, that’s the very last thing you wish to hear in case your’re a franchise with a cataclysmic draft historical past over the past decade.
Right here’s a sampling of the clunkers Washington has drafted within the final decade:
Regardless of drafting within the lottery on a number of events, Washington’s high picks in that interval embrace Tomáš Satoranský, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Troy Brown Jr., Rui Hachimura, Deni Avidija, Corey Kispert, Johnny Davis and Bilal Coulibaly. Apart from Coulibaly, who is simply six video games into his skilled profession, the earlier regime’s observe report skips like broken vinyl. Shepherd’s final lottery choose, Johnny Davis, resembles a two-way contract benchwarmer. The specter of drafting a stinker one yr after opting out of the sweepstakes for the best two-way prospect in 40 years may be very actual.
The fantastic thing about preseason rankings is that they’ve the potential to vary. Previous to the 2018-19 school basketball season, no one may have seen Ja Morant coming. Washington is in want of an identical draft riser who can separate themselves from the pack.
Givony’s high prospect, Ron Holland, isn’t even taking part in school basketball this season. As a substitute, he’ll be suiting up for the G League Ignite alongside Matas Buzelis. And as we are learning from Scott Henderson’s rough start, assessing NBA readiness towards G League competitors is a dangerous endeavor. USC level guard Isaiah Collier may very well be the primary level guard taken, however he doesn’t even have the most effective title recognition of anybody on their roster. That might be Bronny James, who’s extra notable for his dad’s contributions to basketball than his personal recreation.
Kentucky ought to discipline one in all its most enjoyable one-and-done rosters in a decade. Ahead Justin Edwards, middle Aaron Bradshaw, DJ Wagner and Rob Dillingham are all high 25 blue chippers. Edwards initiatives because the superior prospect, however he’ll be 20 in December and will additionally wind up smacking up towards his ceiling because the second-coming of RJ Barrett.
Purdue’s Zach Edey is the top-returning participant, however he’ll even be a 7-4, 22-year-old stiff subsequent yr, who initiatives as a second-round choose. The Participant of the 12 months shortlist contains a bevy of John Doe’s, whereas FAMU is more of college basketball’s inspirational Ted Lasso spinoff than an incubator for higher echelon particular person expertise. Alex Sarr may very well be the highest huge man in 2024, however he’s taking part in off-Broadway for Perth within the Australian NBL. I
t could be a disgrace to spend a yr watching Poole lob backboard alley-oops in transition throughout double-digit losses just for the Wizards to whiff once more. This franchise and its fanbase have skilled sufficient trauma.
Observe DJ Dunson on X: @cerebralsportex