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News » Washington Wizards Getting Inside 2008-06-30

Washington Wizards Getting Inside 2008-06-30

Washington Wizards Getting Inside 2008-06-30
In the days leading up to the 2008 NBA draft, one of the worst-kept secrets in Washington was that the Wizards didn't want their pick at No. 18 and were trying frantically to trade it.

But the Wizards had no one willing to take the bait and wound up using the pick on Nevada big man JaVale McGee, a 7-foot, 237-pound center.

McGee, who played two seasons at Nevada, averaged 14.1 points, 7.3 rebounds and a Western Athletic Conference-leading 2.8 blocks per game last season.

"We're happy with the pick," Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld said. "We've added a big man who is athletic and comes with a 7-foot-6 wingspan. He has some very good qualities."

Right before the Wizards snatched up McGee, there was much talk that they might grab homegrown Georgetown product Roy Hibbert, also a 7-footer. But Indiana ended that speculation when the Pacers picked Hibbert at 17 and promptly shipped him to Toronto.

While the Wizards probably would have preferred a player capable of backing up injury-prone Caron Butler -- the organization is convinced he is no longer a 40-minutes-per-game player -- adding a center is not a bad move.

While Brendan Haywood had his finest year as a professional last season, because of Etan Thomas' heart surgery he was also the only legitimate center on the roster. This often forced the Wizards to play natural forward Andray Blatche out of position at the five spot.

While he was not one of the 61 players the Wizards worked out before the draft, McGee kept thinking he would land in Washington.

"I didn't work out for them, but all along they kept talking to me and trying to get me to work out for them," said the slender McGee. "They were constantly in contact with me."

SEASON HIGHLIGHT: After stumbling out of the gate with five straight losses, the Wizards saved their season when they reeled off six consecutive wins to right things.

TURNING POINT: It came in a 101-90 victory at Atlanta. Had they lost that game on Nov. 11, they would have lost six games to start the season -- which would have been a franchise record -- and people would have been calling for coach Eddie Jordan's head. As it turned out, the Wizards righted things that night and reached the playoffs for the fourth straight season. "It feels like you got King Kong off your back," Butler said.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: June 30, 2008


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