Wizards silent in draft as Mary­land na­tive Fultz taken with No. 1 pick

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - BY TODD DYBAS

When NBA com­mis­sioner Adam Sil­ver walked to the podium Thurs­day night in New York City, the NBA com­mu­nity braced for what was to come.

There was as­sur­ance and calm with the first pick. DeMatha High School grad­u­ate and Mary­land na­tive, Markelle Fultz, was se­lected by the bur­geon­ing Philadel­phia 76ers No. 1 over­all. Fultz, who spent one sea­son at the Univer­sity of Wash­ing­ton, was known to be the top pick af­ter Philadel­phia swapped spots with Bos­ton ear­lier in the week. The tran­quil­ity of Fultz’s se­lec­tion gave way to brief chaos.

In­stantly, ru­mors be­gan to move about Chicago Bulls star Jimmy But­ler, who re­port­edly had said ear­lier in the week that he would not go to Cleve­land in a trade. But­ler was in­stead sent to Min­nesota, leav­ing be­hind Chicago and tak­ing one of the premier play­ers in the East­ern Con­fer­ence out to the Western Con­fer­ence, leav­ing the Bos­ton Celtics and Cleve­land Cava­liers hunt­ing for another large piece to add to their ros­ter.

But­ler’s sur­pris­ing move to Min­nesota for a first-round pick, point guard Kris Dunn and small for­ward Zach LaVine thinned the high-end op­tions to trade for. In­di­ana All-Star Paul Ge­orge, who has told the Pac­ers he wants to go to Los Angeles when he be­comes a free agent af­ter next sea­son, be­came an even larger tar­get for those look­ing for ex­tra punch in the East­ern Con­fer­ence, if even for a year. Ge­orge can be an un­re­stricted free agent af­ter next sea­son.

The evening was quiet in­side Ver­i­zon Cen­ter. Wash­ing­ton sent the 52nd over­all pick to New Or­leans for backup point guard Tim Fra­zier on Wed­nes­day night. For the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive sea­son,

the Wizards did not make a draft pick. In the last four sea­sons, just one draft pick -- Kelly Oubre Jr. -- has joined their ros­ter. That’s be­cause Wash­ing­ton has rou­tinely moved draft picks mid­sea­son for es­tab­lished play­ers.

Their first-round picks in the last four years have yielded two vet­eran starters, a young, up-and-down bench player and a rental for a play­off push.

The Wizards sent their 2014 firstround pick to Phoenix as part of the deal to ac­quire Marcin Gor­tat. They also traded a sec­ond-round pick that year for cash. The Los Angeles Lak­ers se­lected ca­pa­ble Jor­dan Clark­son with it.

In 2015, Wash­ing­ton moved up to select Oubre. The move cost the Wizards two fu­ture sec­ond-round picks. They used their 2015 sec­ond-round pick on Aaron White, who is cur­rently play­ing in Europe.

Wash­ing­ton’s 2016 first-round pick was sent to Phoenix in the deal to ac­quire Marki­eff Mor­ris. Its 2017 first-round pick (22 over­all) was sent to Brook­lyn to ac­quire Bo­jan Bog­danovic for the sec­ond half of the sea­son and to get out from un­der An­drew Ni­chol­son’s con­tract. Brook­lyn se­lected Texas cen­ter Jar­rett Allen with the pick.

The ques­tion for Wash­ing­ton is if this strat­egy is sus­tain­able. Re­cently, it has pulled the Wizards among the con­tenders in the East­ern Con­fer­ence.

Fra­zier is ex­pected to be John Wall’s backup next sea­son. To­mas Sa­toran­sky will also push for that role. Find­ing a sus­tain­able backup for Wall has been an is­sue for the Wizards since he en­tered the league in 2010 as the No. 1 over­all pick. Wall played more than 36 min­utes per game this sea­son. Mul­ti­ple Bos­ton play­ers said they thought Wall was worn down in Game 7 of the East­ern Con­fer­ence semi­fi­nals be­tween Wash­ing­ton and Bos­ton.

Five fresh­men were se­lected with the first five picks for the first time. Lonzo Ball was granted his, and his fa­ther’s, wish when se­lected No. 2 by the Los Angeles Lak­ers. LaVar Ball, Lonzo’s bois­ter­ous fa­ther, was hunted by cam­eras and again al­lowed a plat­form to yell into a mi­cro­phone while his son watched. The most awk­ward mo­ment of the evening was when ESPN’s split-screen shot showed Lonzo watch­ing his fa­ther ram­ble for the cam­era.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Mary­land na­tive Markelle Fultz was se­lected by the Philadel­phia 76ers on Thurs­day with the No. 1 over­all pick. The for­mer Univer­sity of Wash­ing­ton guard topped a draft where sev­eral trades were made and the Wash­ing­ton Wizards went with­out a pick.

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