The SportsTalk Shop: Wizards NBA Draft Predictions

Last week we took a look at the 76ers lottery “success”  and their outlook to the June 25th NBA Draft.  Today, we take a look at a Wizards team that finds itself looking to continue building on its already established core.

After a sweep over Toronto in the opening round of NBA Playoffs, the Wizards want to take the next step in going further than a six-game, round-two playoff loss to a Hawks team–that in turn was bounced in four-straight by Lebron James and the Cavaliers.  No matter what Washington does in the draft along, they still would not much up well–right now–in a seven game series against James, J.R. Smith and a steady and effective (but not spectacular) frontcourt.  However, I think they can still take a dramatic step “forward” (pardon the pun) by added a big man this off-season.

First of all, I don’t think Kris Humphries is, or will ever be, a starting power forward that can take you to the next level.  Nene did not look very impressive during the Atlanta series and will be entering the final year of his contract.  If  Paul Pierce returns, you’ll still need someone down the road that you can depend on to start at the four spot.  While a team should always select talent over need, the Wizards should have the benefit of doing both, with several quality power forwards available when their turn in the draft comes around.  Here’s a few of the players to consider:

BOBBY PORTIS, PF (Arkansas) — Nearly a double-double guy for his college career (18 ppg, 9 reb last year), who also shot well (just under 75%) from the free throw line this past season.

CHRISTIAN WOOD, PF (UNLV) — Wood is bouncing around the 20-ies in most national mock draft versions.  However, he could be the best available, and most polished, power forward on the board at #19.  I don’t think he’ll stay available for long if Washington doesn’t pick him.

KEVON LOONEY, F (UCLA) — He’s a little undersized right now (he’s only a freshman) if you need him to play the ‘four.’ I saw him play several times on TV and I liked the way he rebounded and seemed very athletic.  He would definitely need a year or two of development and would not make an immediate impact, which is a concern for a team that is looking to improve next year to get to the next level.  However, he might have the best upside of any forward still available at this point in the draft.

TREY LYLES, F, (Kentucky) — I’m not a big fan of the Kentucky program overall, but the Wizards could benefit from a big man who can shoot from the outside.  If the Wizards want to at a big man with range–and don’t want to pursue a player like this in free agency–then they might want to take Lyles with their pick.  He might have the lowest ceiling of the four guys mentioned here, but he might just be the most reliable pick who, at worst, would give you some nice depth in your frontcourt in the very near future.

While there are also several free agent options available that can occupy the four spot, I think it would make sense for the team to take a long look at these four guys.  I think you can count on the Wizards’ front office to do due diligence over the next few weeks in working out these and other potential draftee.  If they feel one can develop into a steady, starting player, they’ll take a run at a college player, and look to add some depth elsewhere via the free agent market.

As far as trading, I don’t think Washington is in a position of strength in terms of trying to move up—or down—in the draft and think their best bet will be to make a selection right where they are at the #19 slot.  They already have a solid foundation of players to build around.  Plus, I was impressed by the continued growth of John Wall this past season.  Speaking with people who covered the team this past year on our “SportsTalk” program, they all remarked at the maturation of the fourth-year player, and his overall goal to make those around him better—something that I think will continue for future seasons.

With a solid first round selection, and a free agent pick-up or two (especially a bigger player who could stretch opposing team’s defenses), the Wizards should be able to upgrade and keep their momentum going for the 2015-16 season.

What are your thoughts on the Wizards’ potential draft picks?  What do you think are the team’s most pressing needs going into next season?  Email us your sports comments and opinions at any time to RCNSportsTalk@rcn.com and catch our next live show, this Thursday, June 4th from 7-8pm on RCN-TV.

 

Behind the Mic: What’s in a Name?

 

The US Patent and Trademark Office has canceled the Washington Redskins’ trademark registration. They did it because they considered the name “disparaging to Native Americans.” This would mean that the team would NOT have exclusive rights to the trademark, thus allowing others to sell merchandise using the Redskins’ logo – possibly a PR and financial disaster. Owner Dan Snyder has vowed never to change the name and has appealed the decision of the Patent Office.

There are other examples of teams dealing with similar controversy. In 1997, the Washington Bullets looked to change their name because of the rise of gun violence across the country. They became the Washington Wizards. Not the best choice since Washington is predominantly African-American and a “wizard” is the name for someone highly ranked in the Ku Klux Klan. This was a true case of “out of the pan, into the fire.”

The Kansas City Chiefs have faced attacks similar to the Redskins, but they have fought any attempt to change their name. So, too, have the Atlanta Braves. They have discontinued use of their “screaming Indian” logo, but continue to come under fire by Native Americans. Other teams of note are the Chicago Blackhawks, the Vancouver Canucks (considered a derogatory term for Canadians), the Golden State Warriors, the Cleveland Indians, even the Boston Celtics (their pot-bellied, pipe-smoking Irish leprechaun has been considered offensive by some).

Perhaps the worst choice came when an Ontario professional baseball team called themselves the London Rippers named after Jack the Ripper and their logo featured the image of Jack holding a baseball and a bat in a very menacing way. Fortunately, the team suffered financial problems and lasted only one season.

So, what’s in a name? Well, there once were more than 3,000 American Indian mascots and names used in athletic programs across K-12 programs in the US. More than two-thirds of those have been changed. So, amid all the controversy, it does appear that eventually all teams will have to consider what underlying meanings their nicknames and logos contain and whether tradition wins out over real and/or perceived insult.

Watching the appeal process by the Washington Redskins versus the US Patent and Trademark Office will be very interesting. I believe, since the trademark was first registered over 40 years ago, the Redskins will win their appeal. Whether they win in the court of public opinion, however, is a completely different story. Here, I suspect they will lose. There are just too many groups, ironically, “circling the wagons.”

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)
1. Now that baseball is past the mid-season, are Phillies’ announcers Jamie Moyer and Matt Stairs improving? They certainly had plenty of room to get better and generated a great deal of negative criticism when the season began. My feeling is they are getting a wee bit better. Stairs still has trouble with mumbling and completing sentences. Moyer’s is more interesting, but his delivery is just plain boring. From the reports I have read, Comcast sees them as works in progress. They believe they are getting better and have confidence in their ability to stay long-term. I do not see the Philly fans being so patient.

2. The Phillies started the season at 15:1 odds to win their division. That has now dropped to 100:1 and even that seems too high. The Cubs, by the way, are 1000:1 to win their division and the Astros are 5000:1. Right now it looks like the Dodgers against the Angels in the World Series.

3. With football camps now beginning their workouts, you might be interested in the Las Vegas odds for the 2015 season. The Seattle Seahawks are favored to win the NFC Championship and the Denver Broncos are favored to win the AFC title (sound familiar?). Seattle beat Denver 43-8 in the Super Bowl last year. The Broncos are 6:1 odds to win the Super Bowl. Most fans felt the same way last year. The Eagles are 15:1 to win the NFC and 28:1 to win the Super Bowl, listed as the 10th best team in the NFL.

4. Speaking of last year’s Super Bowl, it was the most watched television program in history with 111.5 million viewers. The halftime show which featured Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers had 115.3 million viewers. I guess many of the wives just wanted to watch the concert.

5. A final note concerning the Blue Mountain League. The teams are in the playoffs now with the semifinals and finals on the horizon. If the playoff games are as competitive as the regular season, get out and watch a game. It is good baseball.