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Dwayne Haskins is D.C.’s latest savior

May 14, 2019

The weekend brought us a first glimpse of Washington’s would-be hero at quarterback.

Tuesday night will either raise our hopes or deflate them regarding a potential liberator for the Washington Wizards.

Dwayne Haskins was as impressive as a passer can be in an NFL rookie minicamp, which indicates his future success less accurately than cloudy crystal balls. Among multiple observers enthused by Haskins’ showing was coach Jay Gruden, who noted that the Ohio State product “can really spin it.”

Maybe Haskins should represent the Wizards onstage during the NBA draft lottery and wear his No. 7 jersey for good luck. The basketball team needs all kinds of fortune to rise above the sixth pick, where it currently sits.

(Remind me again why pushing for the playoffs was so important. Had they won 22 games instead of 32, chances of landing game-changers Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett or Ja Morant would be much more reasonable. Considering the pall cast by former general manager Ernie Grunfeld, the Wizards would do well to avoid picking 10th, their worst possible outcome.)

On one hand, Portland’s Damian Lillard was the No. 6 pick in 2012. He’s a four-time All-Star and three-time All-NBA selection who just led the Trail Blazers to the Western Conference finals.

On the other hand, sixth overall picks since then, in order, are Nerlens Noel, Marcus Smart, Willie Cauley-Stein, Buddy Hield, Jonathan Issac and Mo Bamba not exactly franchise-altering talents thus far.

The Wizards probably used their allotment of fortuitous ping-pong balls in 2010. Washington entered the lottery with the fifth-best odds of securing the top pick, yet leapfrogged New Jersey, Minnesota, Sacramento and Golden State to snag John Wall. Grunfeld bungled with the infamous Jan Vesely the following year but rebounded by selecting Bradley Beal and Otto Porter over the next two drafts.

Besides wondering which pick Washington will have for the draft, we don’t know who will make the decision.

The GM search has been quiet since the Wizards reportedly interviewed in-house candidate Tommy Sheppard, former Atlanta GM Danny Ferry, and Oklahoma City VP of basketball operations Troy Weaver two weeks ago. There’s speculation that Denver’s Tim Connelly and Toronto’s Masai Ujiri could be candidates as well.

Connelly would make a nice story, the former intern returning as king. Ujiri would bring instant respect and credibility to the front office. They all make for a fine collection of names and resumes, and whoever gets the job represents welcome change.

Fans of the football team voiced similar sentiments for much of last season. However, cries to fire Bruce Allen have dwindled since last month’s widely acclaimed draft netted Haskins, edge rusher Montez Sweat and wideout Terry McLaurin in the first three picks.

To be fair, the franchise has made several solid selections over the past few years. But nothing moves the needle like a potential franchise QB taken in the first round.

Robert Griffin III broke the meter in his rookie season, though his long-term, overall impact was no better than other first-round passers, like Jason Campbell, Patrick Ramsey and Heath Shuler in the last quarter-century.

Will Haskins be any different? There’s no telling yet.

He eventually could be deemed a bust, even if he beats out Case Keenum and Colt McCoy for the starting job in Week 1. That said, it would be great if Haskins sat atop the depth chart entering the season, a distinct possibility. Gruden told reporters there’ll be an open battle in training camp.

“We’re going to throw the ball out there and let them compete,” he said after the minicamp. “I think (Haskins) obviously displayed enough of a skillset to warrant the 15th pick in the draft, and we’ll give him an opportunity to see how far he can take this thing without a doubt.”

Unlike many of the top players (freshmen) on the NBA draft board, Haskins’ lack of experience is considered a negative. But with just one season as a starter, he’s also a fresh lump of clay, ready to be molded. There are fewer bad habits to break, as opposed to a senior who started his entire career.

“It’s challenging,” Haskins said of his introduction to pro football. “You want it to be challenging. The biggest thing is trying to apply the meetings to the field.”

In that way, Haskins and the Wizards next lottery pick will fit right in around here. The franchises have been trying to turn theory into actuality for quite a while.

Throwing two more top youngsters into the mix has to pay off at some point, if they can bear the weight.

⦁ Brooklyn-born and Howard-educated, Deron Snyder writes his award-winning column for The Washington Times on Tuesdays and Thursdays.