October 20, 2019

Washington Wizards 2015 NBA Draft Preview with Predictions

The Washington Wizards hold the 19th and 49th overall pick in next Thursday’s NBA draft, positions determined by their 46-36 regular season record. The Wizards have had some success in drafting recently with selections of John Wall, Bradley Beal, and most recently Otto Porter, but are also known for missing out on the NBA Champion Splash Brothers Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. After trading away last year’s first round draft pick to Phoenix for Marcin Gortat, the Wizards will once again have a first round selection in a fairly talented class.

Although there is nothing that the Wizards desperately need, there is no position where they should feel overly confident in either, whether it is in a starting or backup role. Earlier I discussed some of the potential Wizards that may be leaving the club, which could influence how the team will stand going into next year. It is likely that Kevin Seraphin is gone this summer, but that could be the extent of departures as the Wizards would probably not have to spend too much to retain some of the other role players. Assuming current free agents (italicized) and those with player options (underlined) return, a potential depth chart without free agents or draft picks could look like:

PG: John Wall, Ramon Sessions, Will Bynum
SG: Bradley Beal, Rasual Butler, Garrett Temple*
SF: Otto Porter, Paul Pierce, Martell Webster
PF: Drew Gooden, Kris Humphries, DeJuan Blair
C: Marcin Gortat, Nene

*As reported by CSN Washington’s J. Michael, Garrett Temple has opted into his player option, deciding against free agency, for the 2015-2016 season with the Wizards, as expected.

If the Wizards draft any guard that they think deserves a shot on the team, Bynum is likely to lose his roster spot. However, if Paul Pierce does end up retiring or going to the Clippers — less likely with Los Angeles’s recent  acquisition of Lance Stephenson — Bynum’s spot may be secure unless an undrafted free agent is brought in. Gooden’s spot is likely secure because of the need for an immediate known as a stretch-4. Temple will likely return due to mutual desire from both his side and Wizards management. Butler could be let go if room was necessary after having a dismal second half of the season.

Potential First Round Targets (UPDATED):

  • G Jerian Grant (6-5/202): As a local product from DeMatha High School, Grant would be the ideal fit for the Wizards as a combo guard. Grant has the scoring capabilities, 16.5 points a game, to play alongside John Wall or Ramon Sessions as well as the passing skills, 6.7 assists a game, to run with Bradley Beal. It might be a question of if the Notre Dame product is still available when the Wizards are on the clock.
  • G Tyus Jones (6-1/190): At times overshadowed at Duke by likely lottery picks Jahlil Okafor and Justice Winslow, Jones has the potential to be a great backup point guard. With great vision allowing him over five assists a game; however, it is unlikely Jones would be able to play with Wall at the same time because of his size.
  • G Rashad Vaughn (6-6/210): As a freshman, Vaughn took the Mountain West Conference by storm by averaging close to 18 points and 5 rebounds. His volume shooting in a non-major conference could be a scare and possible reach for the Wizards.
  • G Justin Anderson (6-6/231): The former Montrose Christian star suffered an injury towards the end of last season, which turned out to be the end of his college career as he will forego his senior year at Virginia, but he showed some NBA potential early on. One of the best shooters in the draft class, Anderson shots 45.2 percent (47/104) and also has the capability to be a strong defender.
  • F Bobby Portis (6-11/242): It comes as a shock to many that the SEC Player of the Year did not hail from Kentucky, to Portis it is nothing. The Arkansas product averaged solid numbers with 17.5 points and 9 rebounds a game. With the possibility of developing into a stretch-4 and having unseen post moves because he was doubled throughout college, he could be a nice fit for the Wizards.
  • F Kevon Looney (6-9/220): The freshman will be a first round target for his potential over his production at UCLA. The 11.6 points per game on 47 percent shooting from the field and 63 percent shooting from the charity stripe will not blow anyone away; however, it is his physical attributes, including a 7-4 wingspan, which attracts many franchises.
  • F Montrezl Harrell (6-8/240): When he is determined, the polarizing Louisville product can man handle anybody he wants to on the court. Harrell is long and is a defensive enforcer and is known to be a diligent worker. The lack of size means it would be difficult to play at center, but without a consistent jump shot it could be a reach for the Wizards system.
  • F Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (6-7/210): Not know for his offensive ability (11.2 PPG), the former Arizona Wildcat’s immediate impact will come on the defensive end and possibly as a wing player on fast break as he is known for his athleticism. Hollis-Jefferson was voted first team All-Pac 12 and to the league’s all-defensive team.

In the second round there are a lot more options. The hope is that the Wizards management will simply draft the best talent available and hope to score a diamond in the rough in the same way that Marc Gasol (48th) and Marcin Gortat (57th) were selected.

Most recently, the Wizards traded away the rights to their second round pick, Jordan Clarkson, to the Lakers for cash considerations. In the past seven years, only Shelvin Mack has played a game for the Wizards as a second round pick. This can be blamed on poor logic from the Wizards thinking they could stash foreign players overseas as well as failing to attempt the development of young players. Although this is a possibility to happen again, 26 of the 30 players that the Wizards invited to pre-draft workouts are non-first round picks meaning the coaching staff might be committed to bringing in young talent to develop into a contributor.

Potential Second Round/Undrafted Targets:

  • G Tyler Harvey (6-4/185): Out of Eastern Washington, Harvey was an elite pure scorer at the college level averaging 23.1 points a game and shooting 43.1 percent (128 of 297) from three. His young age of 21 is an advantage as the Wizards would be able to mold him into their scheme.
  • G Corey Hawkins (6-3/195): Like Harvey, Hawkins is a pure sharpshooter out of UC Davis. After improving his percentage from beyond the arc drastically, Davis shot a whopping 48.8 percent (81 of 166) but his height will be a concern at the next level.
  • G Dez Wells (6-6/215): Besides being the long time childhood friend of John Wall, Wells fits the style of what the Wizards like in their guards; a slasher who gets to the rim. Although he might not be known for a great shooting career at Maryland, the strong and athletic Terp has worked on his mechanics which he put on display at his pre-draft workout.
  • F Brandon Ashley (6-9/230): On a loaded Arizona roster, Ashley carved out a solid 12 points and 5 rebound average while shooting at over a 50% clip from the field. The lengthy Wildcat is a career 38.2 percent (26 of 68) three point shooter and has a chance of being developed into a stretch-4.
  • F David Laury (6-9/245): Laury performed at a lesser stage at Iona but put up solid numbers with 20 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, a block and steal a game. Like Ashley, Laury is a potential stretch-4 candidate after shooting 38 percent (27 of 71) from beyond the college arc.
  • F Maurice Walker (6-10/250): With the potential of Nene being on the trading block next season and the likely loss of Kevin Seraphin, the Wizards could use a skilled offensive big man. Walker is big enough to play the center position, while still mobile enough to defend the three.

There is talent to be drafted next Thursday and if the Wizards want to be able to compete with the Cleveland’s and Chicago’s of the East, they will have to take advantage of it. Washington is a club with possibly too many old faces as Wall, Porter, and Beal are the only players under the age of 25. Whether the Wizards draft guards or big men, they can improve their team in whichever way they go. My prediction is Bobby Portis, IF Jerian Grant is not available, in the first round and Dez Wells in the second.

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