More than 25 days remain before the Washington Wizards are able to use their third overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft. During that time, draft experts and hardcore Wiz fans will spend countless hours suggesting and projecting whom Washington should acquire with the lottery pick.
AFRO sports writer Stephen D. Riley has proposed that Washington should trade the pick to the Sacramento Kings for third-year center DeMarcus Cousin, a 22-year-old 7-footer with the talent and potential to become one of the best players at his position in the NBA. Riley’s idea is quite creative and worth supporting. Pairing Cousins up with his former Kentucky teammate John Wall would attract fans and help win games.
But what if the Kings aren’t interested in taking that deal? What if Cousins is completely out of the question, and the Wizards absolutely had to use the pick on one of the available talents in the draft? Who could the Wizards pick that could offer the same star player potential as Cousins?
After careful review and analysis, the only player in this year’s draft that has “star player” written all over him is Michigan point guard Trey Burke. The only question that remains is how would Burke fit on a team that already has a star point guard in the making in John Wall.
Here are three answers to that question:
Insurance Policy for Your Star Guard
Everything worth great value needs insurance. You buy an expensive car, you get full- coverage insurance. If you buy your wife a diamond ring, you get it insured. For Washington, no player is more valuable to their success than third-year point guard John Wall. If he breaks down, so do the chances of the Wizards winning games. That was clear last season, which Wall missed nearly half of due to injury. When he played, the Wizards were a .500 team; when he was sidelined, they had twice as many losses as wins. So, how can Washington keep the wins rolling in should Wall get injured again? The answer is Trey Burke.
As a sophomore at Michigan, Burke proved he has the talent to become as good a pro point guard as Wall, if not better. He was named the Big Ten Conference Player of the Year, the Naismith Player of the Year and the National Player of the Year by the Associated Press, Sports Illustrated and the NABC. You don’t take home awards like that unless you’re a big time star, and that’s the caliber of player needed to fill Wall’s shoes should he suffer another injury.
Two Stars Are Better than One
No one wants to see Wall succumb to another injury, but having insurance for him is just preparing for the worst-case scenario. Having a healthy and productive Wall gives the Wizards their best chance of winning, and adding Burke to the roster would only better those chances. Some suggest that playing two small guards together won’t work, but recent history suggests otherwise. The Milwaukee Bucks just reached the playoffs for the first time in several years on the backs of Brandon Jennings and Montae Ellis, two guards that are both 6-feet, 3-inches or shorter. There were doubts that the two could play together since both look to dominate the ball on offense, but their styles complimented each other. The same case can be made if Wall and Burke formed a tag-team. While Wall is an explosive playmaker who aggressively penetrates the paint to set up his teammates for scoring opportunities, Burke is a smooth ball-handler who can shoot the lights out with his deadly deep jumper. Burke is only 6-foot, 1-inch so he’ll be limited to guarding point guards only, but Wall is 6-foot, 4-inches with long arms that allow him to take on the shorter 2-guards of the league. The two may not be lockdown defenders themselves, but they’ll easily be one of the toughest dynamic duos to defend, and could instantly improve Washington’s offense, which ranked 22nd in the NBA last season.
Use the Prospect as Trade Bait
But perhaps Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld doesn’t believe he needs insurance for Wall, and he isn’t interested in teaming him up with another potential star point guard. He could still use Burke as trade bait to nab an impact player at another position of need. Not every team in the NBA has a John Wall on roster and several are certainly in search of a point guard with which to build the future of their franchise. It would be a clever maneuver for the Wizards to snatch easily the best point guard in the draft, and see just how much these point guard-hungry teams are willing to give up to get him. The Kings, for instance, could certainly use a point guard and they may jump at a Cousins trade if they see that Burke is available. Several trade scenarios may develop when you dangle a talent like Burke out as bait.
Regardless of how the Wizards would use him, Burke is too strong a talent to pass up with the No. 3 overall pick.