While the Wizards likely wait until 2016 to make the big move, tonight’s draft provides a chance to improve now.
The Wizards have made the conference semifinals two years in a row and will be a threat to go further next year simply because John Wall and Bradley Beal will be entering the beginning of their prime. Their health and improvement is more important and impactful than almost anything else the Wizards can do between now and next year’s playoffs.
The Wizards have needs but Otto Porter’s role and impact next year is much more encouraging now after his recent breakout playoff performance. Pierce’s return is in question but his leadership and clutch playoff act would be nice to have back.
Nene appeared to be on his last legs but to be fair, Toronto and Atlanta were bad playoff matchups for him. If the Wizards had played Chicago and Cleveland, his postseason may have been different. The Wizards may look to move him but his contract will make it difficult.
Regardless of whether the Wizards have joined the “going small” movement or not, they could use a power forward and another shooter or two. They could also use more backcourt depth. Ramon Sessions played well and is under contract for 2015-16 but the draft will likely offer up backup point guard chances for the Wizards at their 19th and 49th spots.
There are a few guys that I would love Ernie Grunfeld to consider if they’re available at 19. Keep in mind, Ernie loves to make deals but we’ll assume that he stays at 19 and makes a pick. That pick will be a boom or bust type of player. That’s typical of almost any NBA first-rounder but may be more pronounced in the middle part of this draft.
Below is a list of five guys that could be there at 19 that I hope Ernie considers. I’ve discounted the possibility that guys like Trey Lyles, Sam Dekker, and Frank Kaminsky will be there. If any of them dropped to the Wizards spot, Ernie should consider all 3 seriously.
Here are the 5 guys who more likely will be there at 19 and would really help the Wizards.
Montrezl Harrell/Louisville/6-7, 250, PF: Harrell isn’t the obvious stretch 4 many would like but I love everything else about him. He’s an explosive athlete with a huge wing-span. That length made him difficult to deal with near the rim on both ends of the floor. The thing I love the most about Harrell though is his motor. He’s relentless, tenacious, and physical. He also really understands the game. His basketball IQ is solid. The only reason Harrell isn’t projected to be a top 10 pick is he lacks range on his jump shot (although his stroke is a good one and I think eventually he’ll be able to shoot the 3 more consistently) and GMs may think he’s undersized to play the 4. He was a poor free throw shooter but made some big ones in clutch situations. I’d want him on my team.
Bobby Portis/Arkansas/6-11, 250, PF: Portis’ game has some similarities to Andray Blatche’s game but Portis is smarter and has better shooting ability. But the physical comparison is close. They have the same body and move in the same way. Portis has long-arms and can score in multiple ways but like Blatche, sometimes settles too much for jump shots. Portis has a solid post game and may be a better 3-point shooter than people think even though he didn’t take a ton of them in college. Like Harrell, the best part of Portis is he’s high-motor and he’s got good basketball IQ. He’s not a major contributor right away but when he matures, he’s got a chance to be a legit NBA contributor if not starter.
R.J. Hunter/Georgia State/6-6, 185, SG: R.J. Hunter’s shot that upset Baylor and knocked his coach/father off his seat in the early part of the NCAA Tournament made him a March Madness star but NBA GMs had him as a first-round pick long before that day. Hunter has a great shooting stroke which is why GMs should ignore his sub-par 3-point shooting percentage (30.5%) last year at Georgia State. Hunter was the object of every opponent last year in the Sun Belt and as the only legit scorer on his team, he had to be a high-volume shooter. I would ignore the percentage and focus in on the stroke. He squares up and gets it out quickly and purely. He’s got unlimited range and because of his unusual length for his size, can shoot it over anyone. He’s more than a shooter. He can create and score in a variety of ways. He’s got no conscience as a shooter/scorer but not at the expense of good decision making. He’s a coach’s son. He really understands the game. He’ll be a very good pick/roll and pick/pop player in the NBA. He’ll be a lethal catch and shoot guy. On the right team, he could average 16+ as a rookie and 20+ down the road.
Tyus Jones/Duke/6-2, 180, PG. I really like Tyus Jones. I hate the comparisons to Tyler Ennis/Syracuse who came out after his freshman year and ended up in the D-league for most of the year. As Coach Joe would say, Jones is super smart and naturally makes everyone he’s playing with better. He’s also way underrated as an athlete. He’s obviously not Westbrook or Wall but his first-step is lightning quick. He’s a great ball-handler and very clever with the ball. He’s also fearless. He’ll use his clever scoring ability against bigger guys at the rim and he wants the ball in his hands with the game on the line. He can run an offense as a pure point guard but he can also score with the shot clock winding down. He would really benefit by going to a good team that needs 12-18 really good minutes a night from a back-up point guard.
Delon Wright/Utah/6-6, 180, PG. This guy can really do a lot of things on a basketball court. He’s got great size for a point guard and he uses it. He can really defend and rebound for the position. He anticipates so well on the defensive end which results in lots of steals or forced turnovers. Offensively, he’s a great passer and can score in multiple ways. I saw games where he used his size and length to finish at the rim on one possession and then saw him post-up a smaller defender on the next. His shooting could use some improvement but the stroke isn’t bad. He’s a tough, hard-nosed competitor and a multiple category stat-stuffer.
The guy that I think Ernie and the Wizards will seriously consider if he’s there is Kevon Looney/UCLA. I wouldn’t love that pick. Looney is the “monster upside” guy but has more bust potential than most guys in the middle part of this draft. He’s 6-9, 220, and really talented. He’s super long with hard to miss arm length/wing span. He’s a beast around the rim with that length on both ends but he can also shoot it from long-range. For GMs who love to envision future stars through young and raw, he’s just 19 years old. However, when you watch Looney play, there’s a sloppiness to his game. He’s not the smoothest or the smartest. Even though he didn’t commit a ton of turnovers, he always seems on the brink. Additionally, there has been critical talk about things like work ethic. If Ernie picks him, it’s simply because he’s smitten with his physical talent.