Wizards' pick up for debate -- Beal vs. Kidd-Gilchrist

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Cheers and Jeers,Sports,Craig Stouffer
One thing isn't up for debate: Age is key to the Wizards in the upcoming NBA Draft. But deciding between the two young front-runners they'll consider taking with the third pick, Bradley Beal and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, could be more difficult.

Selecting either will say as much about the players as it will about the state of the Wizards' roster. It won't say championship right away. Beal and Kidd-Gilchrist are both still 18 years old. Beal will celebrate his birthday on draft night. Kidd-Gilchrist won't hit 19 until September.

But Beal could be the perfect fit as an athletic, dominant two guard to play next to John Wall. At this weekend's NBA draft combine, Beal will remind folks he went 43 percent (15-for-35) from beyond the arc in the postseason when asked if he shot poorly in his lone season at Florida. At 6-foot-3, he was fifth in the SEC in defensive boards (5.4 per game), ahead of the 6-7 Kidd-Gilchrist, who was 10th (4.9).

"You got a versatility and almost a complete package of what a basketball player should be. This is what a two guard does," said NBA director of scouting Ryan Blake. "Could he be a Dwyane Wade-type?"

But Beal could also affect Jordan Crawford, even if he isn't an immediate threat to supplant him as a starter. Crawford thrives on feel as much as he does minutes, and if he doesn't feel that he's Washington's long-term solution, coach Randy Wittman could find himself with a tricky situation to manage.

Alternatively, having Kidd-Gilchrist in the fold will speak volumes about what the Wizards achieved with the supposed steal of last year's draft, Chris Singleton, who started 51 of 66 games but managed just 4.6 points and 3.5 rebounds. Kidd-Gilchrist struggled at Kentucky from the perimeter, shooting 26 percent (13-for-51) from 3-point range, but it's worth trading for the immediate effect of his toughness, motor and infectious desire. He's a winner, and that's what the Wizards eventually hope to be.

"Could be that pick-and-pop guy? Yes," Blake said. "Is he going to be that guy in the up-tempo game? A slasher? Play some in the post? A tough defender? Yes, yes, yes, yes. And then you think of his upside, the sky's the limit for this kid."

The debate between he and Beal may range just as far.

- Craig Stouffer

cstouffer@washingtonexaminer.com

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Craig Stouffer

Staff writer - sports
The Washington Examiner