In a post over at Bullets Forever, Mike Prada, whose basketball knowledge infinitely exceeds mine, writes about how difference between drafting for need and fit. He makes two basic points.
- Overemphasis on positivity of the current Wizards frontcourt as the year comes to an end. There are still flaws with Booker, Seraphin, and Vesely.
- We should be drafting not people to fit short term needs but for people in a long term philosophy. Thomas Robinson fits that bill.
I don’t disagree with either of these points and suspect that there is more agreement then disagree between myself and Prada. I like Robinson, think he will be a good pro, and don’t by any means think it would be bad if he ended up going to the Wizards. But I do have some additional thoughts about draft considerations that would lead me to believe other draft prospects would be better for the Wizards then Robinson.
First, even if the Wizards are not necessarily set at any position, they most definitely have comparative advantages at the 4 and the 5 over the 2 and the 3. And even if we look past traditional positional needs, we have a much larger need for outside shooting over scoring in the paint. So when deciding who to draft, we should focus not just on if Thomas Robinson will be more productive then Bradley Beal or Michael Kidd Gilchrest, but the difference of productivity between the players they would replace. So we should evaluate whether the skill disparity between Michael Kidd-Gilchrest and Chris Singleton is larger than the skill disparity between, say, Thomas Robinson and whoever you believe the weak link of the front court is.
Second, related to the first point, I think that drafting Robinson does interfere with the player development in the backcourt in a more disruptive way then it does at other positions. If the Wizards were to draft a player at the 2 or the 3, they would be able easily share minutes with Crawford or Singleton, not markedly affecting any of their developments. However, as Kevin Jones notes here, there would be at least one odd man out in a front court addition of Robinson. This is important. It would be a long shot to say that Booker, Seraphin, or Vesely will become a starter, but it is not a stretch to say that they most likely become decent NBA players, either as starters or off the bench. The effect Robinson has on the Wizards current front court development should be taken into consideration when deciding who to draft.
Finally, I think that the point Prada makes about drafting for fit is extremely on point. But I do think that viewing Thomas Robinson as a good fit based on his work ethic and attitude is viewing Robinson out of context in terms of the general draft. One of the most impressive things about this current draft to me is that other than Andre Drummond, there don’t seem to be any character issues. On the contrary, the draft seems to be littered with picks that would be great cultural fits for the Wizards. For those questioning MGK’s character, one should look at one of the many character profiles of MGK dealing with his father’s death and maturity. Harrison Barnes is incredibly mature, growing up in a single parent household and helping provide for his family. And I while I haven’t read any in depth pieces on Bradley Beal’s character, most describe him both as great team mate and an unselfish player who is willing to make the extra pass, unlike a certain starting Washington shooting guard we have today.
I’m not sure how much disagreement there is between me and Prada. I definitely don’t think Robinson is off the table. I still think that he is the fourth best fit for the Wizards, after Anthony Davis, Bradley Beal, and MGK. But I do think that viewing the Wizards as needing help “everywhere but point guard” is detrimental to the creation of the core of a championship team.