The NBA draft is less than a week away. By now, you’re likely familiar with all of the major names the Wizards could target with the 9th overall pick. Odds are, you have a name or two in mind for who you’d like to see them take at 37 as well. No matter what the Wizards do with those two picks, they would still benefit from additional options at the small forward position.
With that in mind, here are a few names that are less likely to be called on draft night for various reasons (age, played in a "weak" conference, etc.). These are guys that could still have a chance of helping this franchise down the road and should merit at least a Two-Way contract. Given that there likely won’t be a “Summer League” type of event this year and we may not even have a G League, the Wizards will need to quickly decide who else deserves a training camp invite.
Kevon Harris, 6-6ish, 23 years old, Stephen F. Austin
Harris is a prototypical wing in terms of size, build, and athleticism. He gets to the free throw line, excels in transition, and made 41-percent of his threes. He averaged about 18 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists each of the last two seasons. Harris is a pretty good defender that is active in the passing lanes, which led to him averaging 1.5 steals per game.
That all sounds pretty good, right? Well, scouts question that production because he played against less than stellar competition during his college career at Stephen F. Austin.
Yes, he played in the Southland Conference but he made the most of his biggest opportunity. On November 26, 2019, Harris played 40 minutes in an 85-83 upset of Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium. He had 26 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals. He also made just about every big play down the stretch.
If Harris was a little younger and had transferred to somewhere in the Big 12, he’d have a lot more buzz. An active defender who made around 47-percent of his catch-and-shoot threes (97th percentile, per Synergy) would typically show up on more mock drafts. Personally, I think he’s a real oversight for many draft analysts and, potentially, NBA front offices.
Justinian Jessup, 6-7ish, 22 years old, Boise State (currently with Illawarra Hawks of the NBL)
He’s not particularly athletic, he seemingly can’t go right when driving to the basket, he doesn’t have a ton of projectable NBA skills but boy, oh boy, can Jessup shoot it. He’s a little bit slow getting into his shot and teams started face guarding him to deny him the ball but when he has a little bit of space he buries it. Jessup also shoots off movement better than most “shooting specialists” who are often strictly catch-and-shoot guys.
During his Boise State career, he showed the ability to hit threes in just about every conceivable way: in transition, step-backs, pull-ups, and off screens. In fact, he hit over 37-percent of his threes (51-of-137) from beyond 23 feet, which is essentially NBA range, and many of those were even further back than that. Overall, he averaged 16 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 2 assists for a good Boise State team.
He will be playing for the Illawarra Hawks in the Australian NBL for their 2020-2021 season (which is about to begin) so teams will have a few more opportunities to evaluate him. A team could draft Jessup late in the second round and leave him over in Australia for the year or they could buy him out partway through the season and add them to their roster. He could also be a late season addition to an NBA roster after the NBL season finishes up.
Everyone is looking for the “next Duncan Robinson” and I’m not sure if Jessup has anywhere near that ceiling. But could he be this year’s Garrison Mathews though? I wouldn’t rule it out.
Sheppard showed a willingness to invest in a lesser heralded prospect from a smaller conference already because he believed that shooting translates. Given the premium on three-point shooting in the league, I wouldn’t be shocked if he eventually found a long-term home in the NBA.
Anthony Lamb, 6-6ish, 22 years old, Vermont
In 2018-19, as a junior, Anthony Lamb averaged 21 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 blocks for a really good Vermont team. He did pretty much everything for the Catamounts and scored in every way possible. That includes from the three-point line, where he made 37-percent of his 4 attempts per game.
This past season, defenses really keyed in on Lamb and forced him to take tougher shots. Unsurprisingly, he struggled to shoot it as consistently in his senior season. His scoring dropped to 17 points per game and his three-point shooting fell to 29-percent.
Lamb still managed to have some monster games as a senior. In a 61-55 loss to a Virginia team that was really strong defensively, he scored 30 points and hit 7-of-14 threes. One of the best defensive teams in the country was unable to keep Lamb from scoring more than half of his teams points in a really close game. Just think about that for a second.
Based on games like that and his overall shooting form, I have to imagine he can be really effective in a reduced role with less defensive focus. In the NBA, he projects as a catch-and-shoot option who just has to knock down open shots.
In the same way everyone wants to find the next Duncan Robinson, teams would also love to find the next P.J. Tucker. To be clear, it’s pretty unlikely that Lamb ends up having the level of success Tucker has. But in terms of role, Lamb has an almost 7-foot wingspan and the bulk to bang with bigger guys inside as a small-ball big. He also seems to like to mix up in the paint and defenders routinely bounced off him at the college level.
I feel pretty confident in saying that Lamb is a guy that could provide defensive versatility in a bench role for the Wizards. The question is whether or not he will hit enough shots to keep defenses honest. If you just look at his senior statistics in a vacuum, you would probably say no.
I feel like I’ve watched enough of Lamb’s games at this point to buy into his shooting longer term. Yes, he could probably use some mechanical tweaks but I think the biggest thing for him will be getting easier looks for a change. There’s a big difference between having to hit a step-back 23-footer with at least one hand in your face than there is hitting wide open corner threes off a pass from Ish Smith.
Lamb just seems like the kind of guy who San Antonio or Miami will have on speed dial the minute the draft is over to try and sign to a Two-Way contract. If I were Tommy Sheppard, I would have his agent’s number handy as well.
This is Part 2 of potential draft sleepers so stay tuned for more! We already discussed guards in the first installment and bigs will be next. Please let us know in the comments who your favorite lesser-heralded wing prospects are! Also, special thanks to BF community member Sheedali for passing along some of the shooting stats used for this article!