Now that the Washington Wizards season has come to a close, the team will have to focus on the draft. For the second straight season, the Wizards will be without a first round pick. They traded theirs to the Brooklyn Nets as a part of the deal that brought in Bojan Bogdanović.
The team still has its second round pick, the 52nd overall. The Wizards could easily move up in the draft by swapping picks or even buying one. For example, in the 2014 draft the Wizards drafted and then traded the 46th overall pick, Jordan Clarkson, to the Lakers for cash considerations.
Even without a first rounder, the Wizards have a chance to acquire some great future NBA talent. Here are just some of the names to watch as players the Wizards could end up with in the second round.
Monte Morris: Point Guard, Iowa State
Strengths: Morris is a prototypical point guard that would be the perfect backup to John Wall. During his senior season at ISU, Morris led the country in assist to turnover ratio (5.17:1) and turned the ball over on less than eight percent of his possessions. He is an excellent passer, both in transition and in the half court offense, where his drive and kick ability would incredibly beneficial to the Wizards’ second unit.
Morris is also an efficient scorer. He hit 50.3 percent of his twos and 37.8 percent of his threes. His catch-and-shoot ability would make him serviceable alongside John Wall as well. He has a nice touch around the rim and a strong mid-range game, which is key when facing NBA sized players.
Weaknesses: Morris often struggles to finish at the rim, especially against elite length. As a result, he doesn’t initiate much contact, averaging 3.6 free-throw attempts per 40 minutes. And while Morris may have decent shooting numbers, he has a very mechanical and inconsistent shot.
His biggest shortcomings are on the defensive side of the ball. He isn’t exactly a big point guard and will struggle to deal with physical contact. Morris will have to get stronger if he wants to be an average defender at the NBA level.
Bottom Line: The biggest question regarding Morris is whether or not his scoring abilities will be able to translate to the NBA. If he can get a consistent jump shot, he has the poise and I.Q. to be a capable backup point guard. His defense will be just as important and will need to get better defending the pick and roll.
Tyler Dorsey: Shooting Guard, Oregon
Strengths: Dorsey is an excellent shooter. Last year at Oregon, he shot 42 percent on three pointers and 76 percent at the foul line. He has strong mechanics and a great stroke. His excellent footwork also allows him to create shots off the dribble. He also showed up when it mattered the most. Dorsey scored at least 20 points each of the final eight games of the season for Oregon and was a beast during the NCAA tournament, where he averaged 23.8 points, including a combined 20-33 from beyond the arc.
He is also an above average rebounder for his size, thanks in part to his 36-inch vertical. Dorsey is a jack-of-all-trades on offense and plays with great poise, rarely forcing any bad shots. He has a great feel for the game and is not afraid to make the extra pass.
Weaknesses: Dorsey’s biggest liability is his size. He is a tad small for a shooting guard and his weight is barely average. This could result in him getting bullied defensively and struggling to handle stronger players. That would impact him offensively as well. Like Morris, he struggles to finish in crowds and lacks the natural length to thrive in these scenarios. On defense, he has the tendency to lose focus, which takes away from his strong footwork and his ability to stay in front of players.
Bottom Line: This past NCAA tournament shows Dorsey has that “It Factor” you look for in guys. Dorsey would thrive as a spot up shooter next to Wall and Beal, which could really maximize the team’s potential. If Dorsey does end up in Washington, it will be up to Scott Brooks to get the most out of him on defense. Dorsey’s shooting alone should give him a chance to succeed in NBA, but his defense will determine how much he makes of his opportunity.
Jaron Blossomgame: Small Forward/Power Forward, Clemson
Strengths: Blossomgame has all the physical tools needed to succeed in the NBA. With the way the league is shifting towards perimeter-oriented players. His body frame is ideal in that he will be able to defend both forward positions. This will be incredibly beneficial when he is asked to switch defensively. He has great defensive instincts against perimeter players. His size also allows him to battle in the low post, where he averaged 1.1 blocks per 40 minutes.
He’s an explosive athlete with a strong vertical. Because of this, he’s a great finisher around the rim, where he shot 63 percent from the floor. He’s also an excellent transition player, which would be ideal next to Wall. Blossomgame also has the ability to post up defenders. His quick first step allows him to create shooting space down low, where he scored .96 points per possession. That put him in the 83rd percentile for all of college basketball.
Weaknesses: He has the body to be a decent combo forward, but he will be limited by his shooting. During his junior year, he shot an impressive 45 percent from three point range. However, this past season, that number plummeted all the way down to 26 percent. He doesn’t have a pretty shot which will result in inconsistencies, especially with the NBA three point line.
While Blossomgame has defensive potential, it is still a work in progress. He has inconsistent fundamentals and often relies too heavily on his natural talent. This in turn limits his footwork abilities and allows defenders to blow by him. Like most prospects, he often loses focus defensively which NBA teams won’t stand. Finally, he will be 24 before the season starts. While that means he will be more ready physically for the NBA, it means there is less of a chance he will make major improvements in the league.
Bottom Line: In the modern NBA, shooting is such an important skill for forwards of all sizes. Blossomgame’s potential will be determined by his ability to score effectively. If he shows he can be reliable from outside the arc, he will have a place in this league as a quality role player. If not, he will struggle to find playing time and may not last long. With the Wizards entering their prime contention years, they may like someone like Blossomgame who will be able to step in on day one. He knows who he is as a player and doesn’t need the ball to make an impact. That being said, his shooting and defense will ultimately determine how far he can make it.
Kyle Kuzma: Power Forward, Utah
Strengths: Kuzma has great size that will fit in the NBA as a perimeter-oriented big man. He can score in isolation, cutting, transition, and pick-and-roll. He has soft hands and a great touch around the rim, featuring a great floater/push shot that he connected on 59 percent of the time lase season. He shot a respectable 32 percent from three point range his junior season, which he should only continue to develop.
He has also shown potential as a passer. While he is not elite, he had a career 13.2 assist percentage. His ability to make skip passes will be beneficial to Washington’s shooters and should end up with a lot more open looks. The big man is a solid rebounder, averaging 10 rebounds (3 offensive) per 40 minutes. The Wizards ranked 17th in rebounding rate and could use a player like Kuzma to help clean up on the glass.
Weaknesses: Kuzma’s basketball I.Q. is one of the bigger concerns going forward. He has the tendency to force things as a shooter and a passer. He often settles for deep, contested three pointers that have a low percentage of going in. His ball handling is also still a work in progress and too often plays with his head down, which limits his vision and playmaking potential.
On defense, he is a bit light for his size which results in him getting beaten down low. He averaged less than one block per 40 minutes. On the perimeter, his effort is inconsistent and he will frequently get beat while not playing in a downright stance.
Bottom Line: Kuzma is probably outside of the Wizards range and would most likely need to trade up to grab him. If the coaching staff can help him understand how to play smart and avoid reckless decisions, the potential is there for a great big man that could help run the bench unit down the road. His development will also be determined by how well he can adjust to finishing against NBA length. He will need to get a lot stronger if he wants to be able to defend bigs at the next level.
Dillon Brooks: Forward, Oregon
Strengths: Brooks has all the intangibles you look for in an NBA player. He’s got a ton of confidence and swagger, he’s incredibly tough, has a great motor, and isn’t afraid of getting fouled or drawing contact. Like Blossomgame, he too can be a combo forward that can help stretch the floor. In terms of skill, the 2017 Pac 12 player of the year has a great first step and will use his athleticism to create for himself and others. He’s a very rhythmic player and when he’s going, there weren’t many players in all of college basketball that were better than he was. On defense, the potential is there and has shown flashes of being able to defend both forward positions.
Weaknesses: His length will be an issue in the NBA. He’s one of a few players whose wingspan is smaller than his height. This could impact his defensive potential going forward, as he was often foul prone at the collegiate level. He is also a below average rebounder for his size and has plenty of room for improvement in that aspect. One more area of improvement Brooks needs to work on is his decision making. He has a generally high basketball I.Q., but will play out of control every now and then.
Bottom Line: There is a role in the NBA for Brooks. He has a scoring ability from the wing that is highly coveted in today’s game. The question with Brooks is whether he will be more of a three point specialist or a more impactful player that can shine on both ends of the floor. The determination is there and will be up to the coaching staff to get it out of him.
Other players to look at:
Frank Mason: The Kansas point guard and 2017 national college player of the year has a great offensive arsenal, but will his small frame (5’11, 185 points) ultimately be his undoing? (Isaiah Thomas is the exception, not the rule.)
Dwayne Bacon: He has a great last name and was a polished scorer at Florida State. That being said, he forces shots too often and may not possess the quickness necessary for an NBA small forward.
Wesley Iwundu: The Kansas State wing has great length for the NBA. He has 3&D potential, but currently lacks strength and is an inconsistent shooter.
Caleb Swanigan: The Purdue big man is a force to be reckoned with down low. He is a great low post player, but lacks quickness and explosiveness that can be exploited on the defensive end.
Josh Hart: He could be this draft’s Malcolm Brogdon, but has a great chance of getting selected in the first round. He’s an all around great player that, aside from his lack of speed, is a great prospect. The Wizards would be extremely lucky if he fell into their hands.
There is obviously the chance that some of these prospects will rise in stock and fly up draft boards. At the same time, other players will fall that will give Washington the chance to steal them. It is rare that second round picks contribute right away and most don’t make much of a meaningful impact. Most recent successful second round picks (Draymond Green, Isaiah Thomas, Marc Gasol etc.) were older players that had the opportunity to develop in college or overseas. This is why most players on this list were older and more mature.
The draft isn’t until June 22nd, so there is plenty of time for Washington to analyze these prospects and figure out which players have the greatest chance to help the team moving forward. The Wizards may not need a second round pick to contribute right away, but it never hurts to have another asset.