When the Wizards won the NBA draft lottery, and with it the right to draft John Wall, fans thought it might be an excuse for the club to chase after Lebron James this summer. New owner Ted Leonsis has always said the team will not head in that direction. Some have questioned whether or not they were making the right decision. Today, Leonsis explained his reasoning on his blog, Ted's Take:
I am loathe to the notion that if we added one player we would be a great team that could win championships. That is a notion that I reject out of analysis of past great teams, and out of personal experience. You must put in the hard work on all of the above; you must use all of the tools at your disposal; you must measure and improve season after season; you must make the investments; you must be in the process daily; and you must be in the moment and believe in what you believe.
For the most part, the draft is the primary way to build a core of great young talent that builds the foundation of a great team. Look at LA, at San Antonio, at Houston, at Chicago, Detroit, Boston, Miami. Seven teams have won championships in the last 20 years. Each has foundational players that were brought into the team via the draft. That drafted player has been the identity of the team, the leader of the team, and for the most part, the team’s best player.
It sounds like he doesn't want to sign a big superstar this summer, because he thinks the team is drafting one in Wall. He wants the player to arrive in Washington organically, and the team has the right to do just that by selecting Wall on Thursday. More quotes after the jump
Leonsis compared the rebuilding situation the Wizards face to that of the Capitals when he first took over, which is probably his best move if he wants to remind D.C. sports fans that he knows what he is doing.
The Washington Capitals have built a core of great young players primarily through the draft. The Pittsburgh Penguins have too, as have the Chicago Blackhawks — the last two Stanley Cup winners. Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher were both drafted in the same draft. Paul Pierce was drafted — Michael Jordan, Tim Duncan, Wade, Isiah, Akeem the Dream, Magic, Larry Bird…The list goes on and on.
What about trades?
Trades are vital as well. Having lots of young players and draft picks also help you to rebuild your team. Astute trades — for missing pieces — using your depth and picks and some young assets, can accelerate your rebuild and help you to build a great team.
There's a lot of ways to build a championship basketball team. Ted Leonsis wants to lay the foundation on Thursday, not when free agency begins on July 1st. If John Wall turns out to be anything like Alex Ovechkin, I think it will work just fine.