- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Wearing a charcoal gray pinstripe suit, and not a bright yellow jacket, guard John Wall represented the Washington Wizards on Tuesday night at the NBA draft lottery. The team came away with the sixth pick after entering the evening with the fourth-best odds of landing the No. 1 overall selection.

The Wizards will have three picks — the sixth, 18th, and 34th overall.

This year’s class is not considered overly strong by NBA scouts and analysts, but Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld said there still are gems to be found.

“There are several players who can really come in and help a team,” Grunfeld said.


“We have always maintained that our plan is to build through the draft, and our plan is to take the best player available who can come in and fit in with our team,” Grunfeld said.

The Wizards also have sent scouts overseas, and are looking at frontcourt players with size and skills that can be developed.

“There are about four European players who could go in the lottery. They’re all above 6-10 and have a lot of potential,” Grunfeld said.

The Wizards are set at point guard with Wall, and have Jordan Crawford and possibly Nick Young, a free agent, in the backcourt, and will be looking to shore up the frontcourt in the draft.

Grunfeld maintains that with seven players under contract and every position filled, there are no glaring needs that need to be addressed right away, but that’s a tough sell for fans of a team that finished 23-59.

The top five picks are projected to be Duke point guard Kyrie Irving, Arizona forward Derrick Williams, center Enes Kantor from Turkey, Connecticut guard Kemba Walker and Kentucky guard Brandon Knight.

Teams looking to build through the draft sometimes trade down to get more picks, but ESPN NBA analyst Chris Broussard said he would not recommend that the Wizards go that route.

“This year’s draft is full of role players. There’s only one franchise player, Kyrie Irving, and the Wizards are set at point guard,” Broussard said.

“The Wizards already have a lot of young talent. The problem has been that there’s a culture in Washington where players have not maximized their talent and have not reached their full potential,” Broussard said.

Broussard identified Kawhi Leonard, a 6‘7” small forward from San Diego State, who averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds as a sophomore for the Aztecs, and Morehead State senior Kenneth Faried, a 6-foot-8 center who is the NCAA’s all-time leading rebounder, as players who could be high on the Wizards‘ draft board.

Next on the NBA draft calendar is a three-day combine this Wednesday through Friday in Chicago, where prospective draftees will undergo athletic and basketball drills, medical testing and interviews.

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