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2020 NBA Draft: Should the Wizards trade up to get James Wiseman?

Here’s the case for exploring trading up in the draft and a look at other first round centers who might be on the Wizards radar.

NCAA Basketball: Illinois-Chicago at Memphis
James Wiseman would be a major upgrade as a rim-protector
The Commercial Appeal-USA TODAY NETWORK via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Should the Wizards trade up in the 2020 NBA Draft to get James Wiseman? It really depends on the deal.

But should the Wizards be very active and seriously try to explore trading up for James Wiseman? The Bleav in Wizards podcast certainly thinks so! Worst case scenario, nothing pans out but you’ve given Bradley Beal and John Wall another data point that shows them how serious you are about improving this roster by any means necessary.

“A player loves when their organization talks about moving up because the expectations are growing,” said co-host and former Wizard Larry Hughes. “You’re not moving up if you don’t have expectations to compete. And I think that will go a long way with those guys just to know that the team is willing to explore these things to try to put a better product out on the court.”

What’s the case for Wiseman specifically?

“I’ve seen him since he was in 8th or 9th grade,” said Hughes referring to James Wiseman. “He’s one of those hybrid guys whose always been kind of a thin guy but was the guy who was on the block because he was really tall and really skilled. Now I see that he’s putting on some weight and really growing into his body.”

Hughes believes that we weren’t able to see all that Wiseman has to offer during his limited time at Memphis. On the youth circuit he was able to fully demonstrate the unique skills he offers for someone his size.

“You expect him to step out on the floor and pull a bigger guy out on the floor and go around the bigger guy or be able to make a play,” said Hughes. “And then if you get that 1-4 switch of a point guard or a two-guard on him, you would expect him to be able to go to the block or the mid-post to make a play. He’s as skilled as any big kid that I’ve seen and he’s only getting better.”

Tommy Sheppard has made getting high-character players a priority and Wiseman seems to fit that mold as well.

“He’s very intelligent, very well-spoken,” said Hughes. “And I think that helps these young kids as they get into the NBA because they can quickly understand terminology. A lot of the game is played between the ears and I think that’s a quality guy. His name has been mentioned for a lot of years in terms of being one of those top draft picks.”

If they can’t make a move for Wiseman, USC freshmen Onyeka Okongwu should be the other center name at the top of their board. We’ve talked a lot about Okongwu on the podcast and I’ve written about him several times here so I won’t go into detail on him again now. But there’s a pretty reasonable chance he’s off the board as well if the Wizards stick with the 9th pick (although, several mock drafts have recently had him falling to the Wizards at #9).

If they aren’t able to get Wiseman or Okongwu, who are next best big-man prospects that merit consideration somewhere around the lottery?

Hughes on Precious Achiuwa’s fit in Washington:

“I think that he’s a complement. I would want to see him complement, be a change of pace for a more offensive big guy, maybe a slower big guy, just because you change the speed by throwing a guy like him in there just to do different things.

I’ve seen him be really active, I’ve seen him be really aggressive, I’ve seen him go help and support his team but I haven’t seen him shoot the basketball. Which is now one of those qualities, whether you’re a point guard or a center, you have to have that capability. You have to have that quality in your game.

A sheer athlete, someone that’s aggressive, someone that’s been playing against top level competition as much as he can. I think he’s a quality guy, I think that’s a quality name that’s on the board. I do think that’s a reach at 9. But again, you have to understand, what are the other pieces that are around to make that make sense. Because he can complement and change the game and change the speed at a different level.”

Hughes on Jalen Smith’s draft stock continuing to rise:

“His skill is being a bigger guy that can stop at the top of the key and knock down a three-pointer. You know, these guys that are big and are coming up in this day and age, you got to be able to shoot the ball. You have to be able to shoot the ball because that’s going to elevate you.

When it’s time to push that button to select that player, what’s gonna separate you from your mate next to you is your ability to shoot the basketball. And I think that’s what’s happened with Jalen, is that his ability to stop shoot the basketball from the top of the key is an asset to him and I hope he uses it to his advantage.

Hughes on potentially reaching for Aleksej Pokusevski:

“I would advise against that if we are looking to make sure we have Brad’s confidence. I mean, he is a big part of the organization so you want to make sure that guy has confidence within your organization that you’re trying to do right by, not just him, but the entire situation.

To go for a project at that number with the struggles that the team has had over the last year and a half, it wouldn’t be a huge vote of confidence moving forward. If you’re gonna draft a project, your better players are going to want to move on and allow you to build exactly what you’re trying to build. And allow them to move and let them try to win what they’re trying to win.”

This is just a portion of the conversation from this week’s episode. We hit on a lot of other Wizards-related topics as you can see from the episode breakdown below.

Episode Breakdown

  • Steve Blake punching Gilbert Arenas during practice - 0:30
  • How much should the Wizards pay Davis Bertans? - 5:30
  • Does a 4-year deal for Bertans make sense given the positional overap with Hachimura - 8:30
  • Does hearing from your teammates help sell you on re-signing with a team? - 11:00
  • Bradley Beal’s comments on The Old Man and the Three podcast about expecting the organization to prove to him they can build a winner - 17:00
  • Are Marcin Gortat and Nene the best teammates John Wall and Beal have had? - 20:00
  • Why can’t Washington attract bigger name free agents historically? - 22:30
  • The Kelly Oubre debacle revisited again - 24:00
  • The John Wall pick-up game videos - 29:00
  • Center prospects in the NBA Draft - 34:00