WASHINGTON -- While debate rages on regarding what the Washington Wizards should do with the third overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, the team continues to evaluate and identify prospects for its two second-round picks. On Thursday, that brought a host of prospects to Verizon Center for pre-draft workouts in front of team officials.
None of the players that visited Chinatown Thursday -- James Southerland, Laurence Bowers, Deshaun Thomas, Khalif Wyatt, Keion Bell and D.J. Seeley -- are considered likely to be selected in the first round. However, with John Wallclamoring for the addition of a Stretch 4, the likes of Southerland and Thomas are highly intriguing.
Between those two forwards, Southerland clearly stands out as a player fitting Wall's desire. Officially listed at 6'8 in shoes coming off his senior year at Syracuse, he's a talented shooter that's shown the necessary attitude to play defense on a Randy Wittman team.
Asked how he might help the Wizards if drafted, Southerland responded, "mostly energy and athleticism, showing 'em I can spread the floor," but defense was also a source of pride.
For a player who spent four years in a 2-3 zone at Syracuse, how he'll transition to NBA defense is a question mark for the 23-year-old, but it's difficult to deny his attitude. Of the three players who spoke to the media after workouts, Southerland was the only one to mention defense.
However, Thomas has never really tried to sell himself as a defender. After earning unanimous all-Big Ten honors while leading the conference in scoring as a senior, Thomas enters the draft selling one talent above all else, and that's making buckets.
Still, Thomas seems aware that scoring might get his foot in the door, but versatility will ultimately determine his longevity as an NBA player. After Thursday's workout, he said he sees himself as a player capable of filling multiple roles at the next level.
"A lot of guys in the NBA go small, and I have a feeling I can play that 4, that stretch-4, when teams go small," said Thomas, before backtracking a little. "I really see myself as a 3, because, you know, posting up smaller guards and going around bigger guards at the 3, just being that scorer and having that impact on the floor."
Officially listed at 6'7 in shoes, Thomas doesn't have the length of many power forwards, Southerland included, but it's difficult to deny his scoring ability. If he can prove capable of defending bigger players around the court, it's easy to see why the Wizards might be interested in someone with his skills.
Will the Wizards end up really pursuing any of these guys? I would imagine it's easier to peg down where No. 54 team is going with its top pick than to guess who might still be available with their final two selections, No. 38 and 54th, particularly when one or both of those picks could end up being dealt.
Still, these workouts are opportunities to unearth possible gems deep in the draft. Should the Wizards still be looking for a stretch 4 by then, we know two names who could be on their board.
Other notes and quotes after the jump:
- For those wondering, I'm not exactly a basketball scout, and our viewing period of the actual workouts lasted little more than a few minutes. From the brief glimpses given to media, Southerland certainly looked the part of an active individual defender, though he didn't go straight up on a block attempt against Thomas and ended up hacking him during a one-on-one drill. That jumper did look pretty, though, as Southerland was consistently able to release it over the shorter Thomas without much trouble.
- Thomas brings a relatively unusual characteristic to the table as a left-handed shooter. There aren't many lefties tooling their trade in the NBA these days -- Chris Bosh is a quick one off the top of my head -- but the Buckeye says his handedness actually benefits him. "Usually everybody assumes guys are right-handed, and people forget that I'm left-handed, so it's a good advantage against people who don't which hand I am." Probably worth noting NBA defenders won't be so forgetful about these kinds of things.
- Wyatt says he already has worked out for four different teams and he could play in front of as many as 12 prior to the draft. "It's a grind flying from different cities, getting there one day and having to workout the next day. And each team wants something different, wants different philosophies," he said.
- Southerland, having played at Syracuse for four years, knows D.C. well from games against Georgetown. He had some kind words for the city. "Washington, D.C., is a great place to be, even though it's Georgetown's place," he said. "I kind of feel like I'm at home. It's great, it's a great atmosphere out here."
- Some scouts and evaluators might be concerned about Southerland's experience in Syracuse's zone defense, but he points to years of experience playing man-to-man outside college. "I'm sure people understand that we've been playing man-to-man from basically the time I was born into high school," he said. "And then I got to college and played 2-3. It's definitely the opposite ... but at the same time, we've been adjusting since we've been playing the game."