When the Washington Wizards bowed out of the NBA Playoffs in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, they stayed at the 19th overall spot in the draft determined by their 46-36 regular season record. The Wizards will also pick 19th in the second round, 49th overall, a selection where Ernie Grunfeld and Randy Wittman will try to find a diamond in the rough. Today the Wizards held their fourth pre-draft workout sessions, which was headlined by former Maryland Terrapin star G Dez Wells.
After having two sessions early last week and now two more this week, the Wizards have seen 24 players up close and personal. The three players who Washington has worked out that could be first round targets are G Jerian Grant from Notre Dame, PG Delon Wright out of Utah, and SG Rashad Vaughn, the freshman Phenom from UNLV. All others are possible second round picks and/or undrafted free agent possibilities.
The Wizards have focused on bringing in guards and tall big men to assess, but surprisingly no small forwards with the questionable depth behind Otto Porter after the potential departure/retirement of Paul Pierce. With the small possibility of getting a lock impact player, such as a Karl Anthony-Towns or Jahlil Okafor, Washington has diversified their pre-draft selection pool by going after the star players from non-power schools. The Wizards have brought in 12 players from lesser tiered schools to evaluate the possibility of their skills translating to a big jump in competition.
Although seen to be too small to play the small forward position at a generous 6’ 6’’ (came in at 6’ 3’’ without shoes at the combine) Dez Wells is an intriguing fit for the Wizards. He has minimal ball handling skills and is still developing his jump shot, but Wells has a unique style of play. Like John Wall, who Wells grew up and played high school basketball with in Raleigh, NC, the former Terp is a beast in transition and can finish through contact with a strong upper body. In a half court set Wells is also a great slasher to the rim where he finishes with great success. Wells has also developed post moves against smaller defenders, which has the possibility of translating to the pros.
With Bradley Beal and Ramon Sessions being the only true players to get playing time at the shooting guard position during the playoffs, the Wizards might be interested in signing an aggressive driver to better complement their bench scoring. Wells is also a shutdown defender who can guard multiple positions as he has effectively faced off against the likes of DeAngelo Russell, Sam Dekker, and Denzel Valentine. Many thought the Wizards partially pulled the trigger on Porter two years ago at the No. 3 overall pick because of his local connection via the Georgetown Hoyas, if the same holds true for the Maryland superstar, the Wizards could reap the benefits once Wells is fully developed.
When Wells spoke to reporters after his intense work out, he believed his athleticism, strength, ability to get to the basket, and playmaking talents would translate to the next level. He honestly chipped in that he will still work on his ball handling. Wells also added that he has developed a sounder mechanical shooting form through repetition in training to the heights where he feels he is at the top of his game. As expected, the local Terp said he is happy to play anywhere in the NBA but would “LOVE” to play with John Wall, “my big-brother” again. Wells has already worked out with eight teams including today with the Wizards and still has three more showcases to attend (76ers, Nets, and Pistons). As a Maryland Terrapin faithful who has seen Dez Wells soar through the rafters of the Comcast/Xfinity Centers on thunderous dunks, I can attest to the unique ability to be a force in the NBA and hopefully as a Washington Wizard.