By Michael Lee, The Washington Post
7:07 PM EDT, June 28, 2012
NEW YORK —
The Washington Wizards insist they aren't wedded to any prospect for the third overall pick, and they remain at the mercy of what the Charlotte Bobcats decide to do ahead of them — whether it's take Kansas junior and Washington native Thomas Robinson or trade down to let another team possibly grab Florida shooting guard Bradley Beal.
But the Wizards have three players they are strongly considering: the unassuming and sharpshooting Beal; the polished perimeter scorer Harrison Barnes of North Carolina; and the defensive-minded and grittyMichael Kidd-Gilchrist of Kentucky.
Kidd-Gilchrist, the youngest of the trio, expressed a confidence that all three share when it comes to their games, but when it comes to tonight's NBA draft at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., there is too much uncertainty to feel comfortable. Kentucky big man Anthony Davis is the only player who knows where his NBA career will begin, with the New Orleans Hornets set to take him No. 1 overall. After that, anything could happen and much already has among the teams near the top of the draft.
The Wizards sent Rashard Lewis to New Orleans for center Emeka Okafor and small forward Trevor Ariza in a move that created a need for help on the perimeter. The Bobcats acquired shooting guard Ben Gordon from Detroit in exchange for Corey Maggette in a trade that could set them up to take a power forward or a small forward if they stand pat at No. 2.
"It's fun, but it's long and very overwhelming because you're ready to see where you're going to go. And right now, nobody besides Anthony Davis knows where they are going," Beal said. "At first, it wasn't nerve-racking for me, then all of a sudden it got like this. Trades started happening, then I started hearing teams wanted to trade up — teams I haven't even worked out for. I'm very curious to see where I'm going to land."
Beal worked out for Charlotte, Washington and Cleveland, which holds the fourth pick, and left an impression in one season at Florida. Some see him as the second-best prospect in the draft after Davis.
His ability to play shooting guard has put him in high demand. Cleveland and Oklahoma City are among the teams reportedly considering moving up to select Beal.
"I think they see my potential," said Beal, who turns 19 today. "Do I have fears [about playing in the NBA], no. Honestly, because I'm confident in myself. Not arrogant, just confident I'll be able to succeed at that level."
After working out in Charlotte last Thursday, Robinson was under the impression he would end up with the Bobcats at No. 2. Now, he's not so sure, with rumors swirling that the Bobcats are seeking to acquire more assets in the draft.
"It's getting to the point where your agent is confused," Robinson said. "If they're confused, just imagine how I feel."
The Wizards have received calls in recent days from teams interested in moving up to draft Robinson, according to league sources, but the team appears set on owner Ted Leonsis' request to hold on to the draft choice.
Barnes considers himself a small forward but said he would be willing to play shooting guard for the Wizards. Even with the addition of Ariza, Barnes believes the two of them could play together.
"I guess it's all based on a coach's philosophy," said Barnes, who believes his time under the microscope at North Carolina has prepared him for the NBA. "I'm pretty much entering at the bottom end of the totem pole, and I have to work my way up and keep my head down. You have to be very humble. Wherever I end up, I'll be happy."
Kidd-Gilchrist, a New Jersey native who played high school basketball a few miles from Prudential Center, will have about 100 friends and family in attendance to watch him shake hands with NBA commissioner David Stern. But he acknowledged that not having control over where he winds up has been stressful.
"It's a hard feeling for me, because my high school, I got to pick. College, I got to pick. I don't know where I'm going to go and I want to know, like now," said Kidd-Gilchrist, who turns 19 in September. "I have no clue, but anywhere is cool with me. I don't really know what's going to happen, but I'm going to get drafted."
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