By Jason Shoot
In April I wrote a column describing the NFL Draft as a second Christmas for me each year.
If that is the case, then I'm considering the NBA Draft on June 27 as my second Valentine's Day of the season.
I mean, seriously, if I spend every Valentine's Day by myself, and I spend every NBA Draft by myself, why not?
The other 363 days each year are no different except for when the UPS man comes to deliver an urgent "This is your last statement before we hold you upside-down and pour money out of your pockets" kind of bill and leap years just add to the agony.
But I do find solace each summer when NBA teams hypothesize which pre-teen player is going to turn into the next Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, etc.
I'm a dark-humored cynic, and I admit I like to watch teams self-destruct. The draft provides me with plenty of that to quench my insatiable thirst. Just look at the New Jersey Nets.
This year the Washington Wizards and team president Michael Jordan control the unenviable position of holding the top pick in the draft.
Sadly, no Tim Duncans or Shaquille O'Neals are sitting out there to choose from, and the Wiz have to make one of three choices: 1) choose a player fresh out of high school or with little college experience, 2) select Duke's player of the year Shane Battier, or 3) make a trade.
A No. 1 pick demands a player who is capable of stepping in and immediately paying dividends and putting your team in position to improve itself throughout the course of the year.
That rules out the little-uns. Remember, Kobe Bryant was hoisting up airballs in clutch situations in the playoffs only two years ago, and it took a few seasons for him before he was aiding Los Angeles every day.
Battier, though he is the most basketball-savvy player to come out of college since Duncan, doesn't demonstrate signs he will ever be more than a good, solid role player in the pro game.
Will he ever be a 20-point, 10-rebound kind of player? More realistically, Battier will probably turn into a Sean Elliott-type with two functioning kidneys, though averaging 14-16 points and seven boards a game. That production doesn't seem applicable to a No. 1 pick.
That leaves Washington making a deal that will either bring more draft picks or more veteran players. The Wiz certainly don't need to get younger, and experienced players will help the team improve upon 19 wins last year.
A team possibly seeking to get younger is Portland, which may actively seek a deal. Arvydas Sabonis, Scottie Pippen, Steve Smith and Shawn Kemp are all fading stars, and an infusion of youth couldn't hurt.
And, if Jordan were to return, wouldn't teaming up with Pippen again bring some needed life back to the NBA.
It's not likely, but it is possible.
Another rumor circulating is Jordan dumping the top pick and Richard Hamilton to Vancouver for the sixth pick and point guard Mike Bibby.
That deal certainly would improve the team and is precisely the kind of move that would make Jordan look like a sensibly aggressive front-office man. The options are there for Jordan to choose the correct move for his team.
But if Jordan chooses the wrong path and retains the pick, it appears the Wiz could get flushed.