2013 NBA Draft: Washington Wizards Now A Playoff Team?

Washington Wizards highlighted the 2013 NBA Draft Lottery Tuesday evening, by landing the third overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Orlando Magic will be picking ahead of the Wizards, but in a draft without a clear first pick, that doesn’t really matter all that much. With another high-lottery pick, will the Wizards be able to make their way into the playoffs next year?

Tuesday evening, wizardry was on full display. Washington used some sort of black magic to cause the biggest upset of the draft, landing the third pick despite only having a 4.8% change to do so. Sure, this might not be the most talented draft class in recent memory, but there is always some hidden All-Star caliber talent in every draft — you just have to find it.

Regardless of who the Wizards pick, they will most likely add a very good prospect to their relatively young core. The backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal is already a lock, and one that has the potential to be one of the best in the league. Perhaps picking up a decent wing defender in Otto Porter would be a decent addition. There are other players that will be available that probably have more potential than Porter, but he would certainly be a safe pick and fill the gap at the small forward spot.

Trevor Ariza currently occupies that 3-spot, but he has a player option for next season. Even if Ariza exercises his option, another small forward would be a necessary addition to the roster, as that is where the team is pretty thin (unless you consider Jan Vesely a basketball player). Porter is versatile and will likely be available when the Wizards are on the clock.

March 3, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards point guard John Wall (2) talks with Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal (3) against the Philadelphia 76ers in the fourth quarter at Verizon Center. The Wizards won 90-87. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

So, would Washington make the playoffs if they selected Porter and moved forward with the roster they pretty much have locked in for next year? Well, it depends on some factors, but they would definitely be in the conversation. Some of this year’s Eastern Conference playoff teams could very well drop out next year.

You have the Milwaukee Bucks who made it to the postseason with a 38-44 record, a mark that will probably not be enough next season. Then we have the Boston Celtics, who have so many question marks to straighten out. Will Paul Pierce be traded? Will Kevin Garnett be traded/retire? How good will Rajon Rondo be coming off an ACL tear? If they do trade their core guys, who do they get in return?

At this point, the logical course of action for the Celtics is to simply blow it up and rebuild with young players. If that is the case, we have another opening in next year’s playoffs. The only other team that could potentially drop their playoff spot is the Atlanta Hawks. They didn’t re-sign Josh Smith, and their playoff contention will depend on who they get in free agency.

With three potential dropouts, there are a couple of up-and-coming teams as well.

The Toronto Raptors have a solid starting lineup, and although they are nowhere near to being title contenders, it’s a roster that could very well take the franchise back to the playoffs.

Detroit Pistons is another team that has a lot of young talent. They will have an opportunity to add another young player in the draft, but it will probably take a season or two for Andre Drummond, Brandon Knight and Co. to develop and get the Pistons over the hump.

Then we have the Cleveland Cavaliers. They finished with a 24-58 record this year, but have decent, young core. A lot will depend on what they do with their first overall pick this year. They could pick Nerlens Noel and wait on him, but that would not help the team’s playoff aspirations. They could also trade the pick and see what they get in return. If the Cavs (mainly Anderson Varejao, Kyrie Irving) can stay healthy, they could improve their roster enough to contend for a spot in the playoffs next year.

Looking across the board, it certainly looks as though the Wizards could very well finish around seventh-eighth in the East next year. They are not particularly deep, but they do have a solid starting lineup in the works. If Wall and Beal had not been injured as much as they were this season, Washington would probably have had an even better record. It’s definitely close, but I think the Wizards will manage to get back to the NBA playoffs in 2013-14.

What do you think?

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Tags: Atlanta Hawks Boston Celtics Cleveland Cavaliers Detroit Pistons Milwaukee Bucks NBA Draft 2013 NBA Playoffs 2013 Toronto Raptors Washington Wizards

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