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Deal of the Day: What If the Wizards Trade the #9 Pick?

Washington adds a primary defender in Toronto’s OG Anunoby

NBA: Washington Wizards at Toronto Raptors Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Deal of the Day, Salary cap rules may be bent but hopefully not broken. We already broke some.

Today’s Deal: What If the Wizards Traded the #9 Pick?

There’s a draft related scenario that The Deal hasn’t yet delved into. What could we expect in return for the ninth overall pick if it wasn’t a modest trade down but a full trade out? I hear it already,

“We finally get access to lottery players to pair with Brad and John and you’re trading them!”

No, no I am not. Hypothetically? Yes I am. [Ducks as a Sketchers cross trainer zings by my head.]

HEY! Who throws a shoe?

If we’re dealing the pick we know it’s an impact two-way player. This draft might not bring the full return of a stocked one but a top 10 pick still retains value. Two-way value.

The Washington Wizards trade the #9 overall pick and guard Jerome Robinson (for salary matching purposes) to the Toronto Raptors for forward OG Anunoby.

Why do the Raptors do the deal?

In official NBA parlance the Raptors ‘have a lot going on.’ They just came up short trying to run it back (sans Kawhi) after winning the 2019 NBA Championship. Starting guard Fred Van Vleet is a free agent. Marc Gasol is a free agent. He’s expected to finish his professional career in Barcelona next season.

Serge Ibaka is also a free agent at 31 coming off a solid shooting year, hitting 38% of his three-point attempts. He’s on my wish list for the MLE or a sign and trade. Their other starting guard, Kyle Lowry, is 34 and somehow defies Father Time by playing some of his best ball.

All that is in the now. Team presidents live for the future. For Masai Ujiri, that means one thing: landing Giannis Antetokounmpo. That’s one reason the Raptors are A-OK with dealing Anunoby, he’ll be due an extension exactly when they’ll need as much room as possible for the Greek Freak and friends. Yes, friends.

It’s not just about having enough room for your priority free agent anymore. In the modern NBA you have to be able to bring a star and another high level player. Lebron was the free agent. Then a trade brought Anthony Davis and that set the stage for Danny Green, Rajon Rondo, DeMarcus Cousins, et al to join in.

Similarly Kawhi Leonard landed in LA as a free agent, who then traded “sure whatever, yes, please write up a list” to OKC for Paul George. The Clippers had much more depth built in. Certainly the engine of their second unit was already humming with Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell.

Back to Toronto, the Raptors can effectively tear it down to Pascal Siakam and a lottery pick. Locking in Antetokounmpo puts a lot of other moves in play. Of course the Raptors have no shortage of confidence that their development program will produce a couple inexpensive rotation players like they have for years.

Do the Raptors go into 2021 with Siakham, Norman Powell’s player option, a re-signed Van Vleet and one max slot? Do they let Van Vleet go, ride Lowry one more year and then start over with Siakham and Giannis? Or do they keep Onunoby, cutting into that potential second near-max slot? In this scenario they keep Van Vleet and decide it’s best to restock elsewhere with Onunoby’s salary slot and the ninth pick.

At nine I could see Masai looking for his lead guard of the future in Killian Hayes or Tyrese Haliburton. Yes, even with Van Vleet re-signed. They’re reloading Lowry’s spot.

With such a deep PG pool (and retaining their own pick at the end of the round despite Washington’s best efforts to snag #29) they can afford to wait if there’s a player that’s just too good to pass up like... Isaac Okoro? Physically he could be an upgrade over Anunoby even if a tad shorter. Okoro is a better ball handler and passer at this stage. The Raptors believe they can get his shot right because of their history of doing exactly that.

Why do the Wizards do the deal?

It would surprise us all if Tommy Sheppard looks at his options at nine and decides they just aren’t enough to win. I mean, he has to be thinking longer term than that right? RIGHT?! He is, we’re having fun.

In this case a lottery rookie doesn’t outweigh the addition of a two-way impact player who’s still getting better. The Front Office has to sell Ted on the pan too because it involves an eventual extension for OG Anunoby (134 PPA).

[Picks up the other Sketchers cross trainer and cocks arm] OK if we’re giving up the ninth pick can you at least give us the lowdown on what to expect from OG?

[Relaxes defensive posture] Sure can. Anunoby is a 6-7, 230 pound wing stopper of a forward with a 7-2.25 wingspan. Here’s his Sports Reference page. Note they show him playing SF about two-thirds of the time and PF about one-third. His scoring has taken a backseat to that of Van Vleet, Lowry and Siakam up to now. There’s hope he can become a 16-18 points per game scorer with more opportunities and more shots.

Anunoby shot 39% from three last year while setting a career high for attempts. His supporting stats (assists, rebounds) ticked upward again over past years. He just turned 23 in July. That’s a difference making combination.

For 2020-21, he’s paid $3.9 million and his 2021-22 qualifying offer year is $5.6 million (RFA). Fun fact he played at Indiana University with Wizards center Thomas Bryant.

If OG is so great, how is he available?

As good as he’s become under the development of Ujiri, Nick Nurse and staff he still lacks fluidity handling the ball. He’s not a playmaker by any stretch. Getting him going will require more than just throwing him the ball or setting a screen.

He’s a true forward who’s more likely to slide up to defend fours than he is to become an initiator on offense. In that sense he’s a level below true super star potential, importantly putting him below max cost too.

Toronto is making the decision to get something for him before they’re up against his extension timeline. Of course they are also keeping space clear for Giannis. Everything else is secondary.

The Wizards immediately improve their defense by acquiring a forward who can take the top defensive assignment every night, allowing Rui Hachimura and/or a re-signed Davis Bertans to take the other match-up. Isaac Bonga fills out the forward two-deep, while Admiral Schofield occupies a developmental forward roster slot.

Sheppard has talked big about now being the time to win. While none of us expect him to deal the ninth pick to accelerate the roster’s timeline to that degree, I hope this scenario at least makes you think through what a Wall-Beal-Anunoby-Hachimura-Bryant lineup could do when backed up by vets like Ish Smith, Troy Brown, Isaac Bonga and shooters like Bertans and Garrison Mathews. Washington would still be in the market for a strong interior defensive presence and rim protection with one of their exceptions.

I have to admit, it’s kinda exciting to think the Wizards could go at Boston’s glut of good to great wings. Countering the offense of Jaylen Brown and mega-riser Jayson Tatum with Anunoby and Bonga, allowing Wall and Beal to play in the passing lanes. Shows how important that additional interior defender becomes. We like Bryant, but we’d prefer he’s not the last line of defense at the end of a playoff game.

Wizards would still have the MLE for said big, the BAE, and #37:

  • John Wall - Ish Smith - PG/CG at 37?
  • Bradley Beal - Troy Brown Jr. - Garrison Mathews (RFA)
  • OG Anunoby - Isaac Bonga - Admiral Schofield
  • Rui Hachimura - Davis Bertans (UFA)
  • Thomas Bryant - __________- Moritz Wagner - Anzejs Pasecniks (camp guarantee)


Worth discussing what we could get with #9?

This poll is closed

  • 55%
    Yes, it is good to consider what we could get for #9.
    (97 votes)
  • 44%
    Nah, we could lose Anunoby as a RFA and wind up only getting a year or two out of that lottery pick.
    (78 votes)
175 votes total Vote Now

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