Around the NBA: 01/18/11

January 18, 2011
Nick Matkovich



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  • Rock-bottom is an uncomfortable, yet finalized grounding point. Rock-bottom coincides with a far-from-enthused fan base, the irksome phrase of "playing out the stretch," and a feeling of gut-rot that occupies your being for the last two months of the season.

    The emptiness of such an existence is eradicated by a franchise-shifting signing or should your team be lucky enough, the number one overall pick, or in basketball terms, winning the lottery.

    That phrase has a different connotation for different people. For Bow Wow, it meant the theatrical bliss of spending time on screen with Charlie Murphy. For Ted Leonsis and the Washington Wizards organization, it meant John Wall.

    Such a covetous prize is more copper than gold some years. You show me a Derrick Rose and I'll cue up the career statistics of Michael Olowokandi. Trumpeting the career of Hakeem Olajuwon? Need you see the tap-dancing Kodiak bear that was Kwame Brown's tenure with the Wizards?

    More often than not, that jewel should give your organization the ability to compete for an NBA Championship after a few years of professional basketball seasoning for the number one overall pick.

    While Wall is the main hope in the Wizards' attempts to return to NBA relevancy (give it at least a year, the Wizards are 12-27) it is fascinating to see how the higher ups of the team will go about surrounding Wall with the complimentary pieces needed.

    The first question asked is whether Wall can be the best player on a team to win the NBA Championship? While history will dictate that a point guard is rarely the best player on a championship team, the play of Derrick Rose this season very temporarily loosens that staunch notion that a point guard can only serve as Robin in a world of 2's that moonlight as Batman.

    Wall's progress and development should be the unequivocal number one priority for the Wizards this season. How he grows as a player and a leader are part and parcel the most important things to watch as a Wizards fan this season. However, surrounding him with the right mix of players is a very intriguing storyline.

    Step one in the supplementary building for the Wizards was when the franchise traded for Kirk Hinrich last year on the day of the draft. Hinrich can never be confused with an elite guard in even the most biased of NBA circles, but he gives the team a great third guard who can defend either guard position or play ample time at the point or shooting guard.

    Yet Hinrich is just one piece, one complimentary piece that makes the Wizards better in three years, not immediately. Building has just commenced, it is nowhere near completed.

    The next major move was wrestling the organizational identity away from Gilbert Arenas. Previously the face of the franchise until he took liberties with the second amendment, Arenas needed to be shipped out of Washington D.C., because the meshing of the old (Arenas) and new (Wall) would keep a disappointing franchise in traction for several years. The deal went down, Gilbert Arenas for Rashard Lewis, absolving any lingering doubt as to who was the future and the face of the franchise.

    At least Lewis has no doubts about his role with a team. He might be paid the part of a superstar, but he's a nice complimentary player capable of hitting outside shots and known for feigning away from any major contact in the post. Wall has still been allowed to commandeer the ball while Lewis comfortably camps outside the three point arc.

    With these moves the Wizards have not flipped the organization on its head and changed the entire franchise. Rash, rushed decisions typically lead to multiple trips to Seacaucus. Instead, the decision makers have tinkered with the roster and have not gone all-out to change things too extremely in the immediate.

    Even with the tinkering, the question persists, where does the organization go from here? You have a future star in Wall and some guys, not stars, in Nick Young and Andray Blatche, and veterans in Lewis and Hinrich. Do you go about building your roster with drafted players or roll dice on the fortunes of NBA free-agency?

    The Wizards were luckily resuscitated quicker than most other free-falling NBA franchises when they were awarded the number one overall pick by the good graces of the lottery balls. The organization made the right move by selecting Wall, trading for Hinrich, and eventually finding a suitor for Arenas. How they assemble the right players around Wall will be the tell-tale sign of long-term success. Winning the lottery is a stroke of luck. Putting together an NBA Championship team is a stroke of genius.

    Note: These are the views of the 6th Fan Blogger. Thoughts and opinions expressed in this articles are not necessarily the views of the Milwaukee Bucks.