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SB Nation Blogger Mock Draft: Wizards select Tyrese Haliburton at No. 9

The Iowa State point guard fits the Wizards’ needs to bolster the backcourt for the future while giving the team a talent boost off the bench right away.

Iowa State v Texas
Tyrese Haliburton is our pick for SB Nation’s mock 2020 NBA Draft.
Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images

Last week, the 30 SB Nation NBA team sites, including ours, took part in a mock 2020 NBA Draft. The rules were simple and included one major restriction: teams cannot trade up or down because the salary cap rules were not determined at the time. Next season’s salary cap was determined last Monday after our draft concluded.

After deliberation with Kevin Broom and Diamond Holton, we ultimately picked Tyrese Haliburton of Iowa State University with the ninth pick in this year’s draft.

Who was picked before Haliburton in the 2020 SB Nation NBA site mock draft?

Draft Order Pick
Draft Order Pick
1. Minnesota Timberwolves Anthony Edwards
2. Golden State Warriors James Wiseman
3. Charlotte Hornets LaMelo Ball
4. Chicago Bulls Killian Hayes
5. Cleveland Cavaliers Onyeka Okongwu
6. Atlanta Hawks Isaac Okoro
7. Detroit Pistons RJ Hampton
8. New York Knicks Devin Vassell

Coming into the mock draft, we hoped to get either USC (Southern California) power forward/center Onyeka Okongwu or Auburn forward Issac Okoro. Unfortunately, both were selected well before we had an opportunity to pick. Since we weren’t allowed to trade up for Okongwu or Okoro or down for additional picks, we had to look at the possibility of selecting the best player available.

Who were our best players available? Why didn’t we pick our other options?

The three players who stood out to us were Maccabi Tel Aviv forward Deni Avdija, Memphis center Precious Achiuwa and Haliburton, whom we ultimately picked.

Avdija is widely expected to be a top-five pick when NBA GMs do the picking, but he was available to us at 9 in this mock draft. It was tempting to pick him, but we ultimately passed because given the team’s goals for next season, they needed someone more likely to contribute immediately.

We considered Achiuwa, but passed on him too. He would have been a reach at No. 9. If Washington was in the 15-20 range — or if we could have traded back — he may have been our pick. But again, we had to follow a certain set of rules given the uncertainty of this year’s draft.

Why did we pick Haliburton then?

Haliburton works as the best player available given the Wizards’ position in the draft and the restrictions we had to follow. We know realistically the Wizards don’t want to draft a point guard. They’re giving John Wall at least one more full season as their starter and they’re hoping to make a run in the playoffs. They also want to see how a returning Wall can work with Bradley Beal, who is a prime trade target for many contending teams.

At least right away, Haliburton won’t threaten Wall or Beal in their roles as the team’s designated franchise stars. But, he averaged 15.2 points, 6.5 assists and 5.9 rebounds per game last season while shooting 50.4% from the field and 41.9% from three on good volume. He could be a solid rotational reserve from opening day.

At the same time, we have to plan for the possibility that the Wizards “blow it up,” perhaps as soon as next season. If Wall doesn’t return to form quickly, or if the Wizards have a poor start this winter, it’s possible they’ll have to trade Beal.

In this case, Haliburton will be positioned to become a starter. He also should receive a fair chance to get playing time considering that other guards like Ish Smith aren’t options for a long term future, and Troy Brown Jr. is versatile enough to play on the wing or in either guard slot.

Who was picked after Haliburton?

Draft Order Pick
Draft Order Pick
10. Phoenix Suns Kira Lewis Jr
11. San Antonio Spurs Deni Avdija
12. Sacramento Kings Patrick Williams
13. New Orleans Pelicans Aaron Nesmith
14. Boston Celtics (from Memphis) Obi Toppin
15. Orlando Magic Cole Anthony
16. Portland Trail Blazers Saddiq Bey
17. Minnesota Timberwolves (from Brooklyn via Atlanta) Tyrese Maxey
18. Dallas Mavericks Aleksej Pokuševski
19. Brooklyn Nets (from Philadelphia via LA Clippers) Precious Achiuwa
20. Miami Heat Jalen Smith
21. Philadelphia 76ers (from Oklahoma City via Orlando and Philadelphia) Desmond Bane
22. Denver Nuggets (from Houston) Tyler Bey
23. Utah Jazz Josh Green
24. Milwaukee Bucks (from Indiana) Theo Maledon
25. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Denver) Leandro Bolmaro
26. Boston Celtics Tyrell Terry
27. New York Knicks (from LA Clippers) Malachi Flynn
28. Los Angeles Lakers Grant Riller
29. Toronto Raptor Jaden McDaniels
30. Boston Celtics (from Milwaukee via Phoenix) Isaiah Joe

You can read all of the SB Nation NBA team sites’ picks in the link below.

Washington’s place in the 2020 NBA Draft isn’t a place to “steal” an interior defender. Picking Haliburton readies the Wizards for flexibility in the future while strengthening their backcourt rotation, whether as the first guard off the bench on opening night, or as a full-time starter sometime next calendar year.