Based on the chatter, here are some potential scenarios that could play out for the Washington Wizards on draft night.
If the Wizards take a big in the first round...
Onyeka Okongwu, 6-9ish, 19 years old, USC
Basically every mock draft has the Wizards getting Okongwu, which means he will be gone by the 9th pick. We are Wizards fans and therefore cannot have nice things.
Case for: instant upgrade defensively, can move his feet on the perimeter, physical rebounder and shot-blocker, show flashes of offensive skills
Case against: is he big enough and will he ever shoot it enough to drag bigger bigs away from the basket?
Obi Toppin, 6-9ish, 22 years old, Dayton
The fit might be kind of clunky but if he’s on the board at 9, he warrants strong consideration. I think he will at least become a passable defender and the offense is basically guaranteed.
Case for: freak athlete, explosive finisher, good floor spacer, would be hard to guard in the pick-and-roll with Wall.
Case against: more of a power forward than a center so might be redundant with Rui Hachimura, stiff, slow-footed defensively
Precious Achiuwa, 6-9ish, 21 years old, Memphis
If the Wizards traded down then seeing them take someone like Achiuwa seems pretty reasonable but I would not do at 9. I just don’t buy the offense enough to justify a top 10 pick on him.
Case for: great athlete and probably has the most lateral quickness of the bigs projected in the first round, active rebounder, plays with a lot of effort and would look good running the floor next to Wall
Case against: sloppy with the ball, unrefined offensive skillset, is defense alone enough to justify a lottery pick?
Jalen Smith (potential trade down), 6-10ish, 21 years old, Maryland
Maybe I “hate-watched” my Terps too much this year but I just saw Smith fade into the background too much to want the Wizards to take him anywhere near the lottery. If they traded down 7-8 spots then that starts to seem more reasonable to me.
Case for: shoots threes AND blocks shots in a draft where not many people do both
Case against: stiff, disappeared for stretches at Maryland, how much upside is there?
If the Wizards take a wing in the first round...
Patrick Williams, 6-8ish, 19 years old, Florida State
Every year someone seems to shoot up draft boards late in the process. Typically, that player ends up being underwhelming (remember that Anthony Bennett guy?). Is that going to be the case for Williams or will he put it all together and turn into the generational talent that some see? If he’s there and Okongwu and Okoro are gone, I would expect the Wizards to give him a long, hard look.
Case for: he’s big, he’s athletic, he loves to defend, once again — he LOVES to defend, the jump-shot looks pretty smooth despite a mediocre percentage, he’s shown flashes of advanced offensive skills that few other wings in this draft have displayed (shoots a high percentage out of the pick-and-roll, looked smooth pulling up, etc.)
Case against: he didn’t consistently produce in college. Is he the annual guy who rises up draft boards the week before the draft so someone reaches and ends up disappointed?
Devin Vassell, 6-6ish, 20 years old, Florida State
Let’s ignore the random 30 second video that scared front offices who thought he’d changed his shot. He would instantly raise the Wizards’ floor and be their best perimeter defender from day one. And he would do so without sacrificing spacing.
Case for: shoots threes at a high percentage, has shown flashes of developing shot creation abilities, probably the best off-ball perimeter defender in the draft, and a really good on-ball defender
Case against: might be too thin to bang with bigger wings, didn’t shoot a high volume in college, wasn’t feature heavily in Florida State’s offensive system, did he mess with his mechanics this offseason?
Isaac Okoro, 6-6ish, 19 years old, Auburn
First impressions are tough to shake and the first time I saw Okoro play was in person and he really underwhelmed. I had no inkling he could be a lottery pick as a freshmen. But he really came around as the year went on and showed flashes of playmaking ability. The shot scares me and I think it’s more likely he’s a Justise Winslow and than an Andre Iguodala. Not that Winslow-esque would be a bad thing, I just don’t see the future All-Star talent that some do.
Case for: really strong wing defender, good athlete, shown some ability to create for others, good driver and finisher
Case against: his jumper is going to make a lot of teams nervous
Saddiq Bey, 6-8ish, 21 years old, Villanova
I wouldn’t take him 9th, but if the Wizards find themselves picking at like 14, Bey would be my guy. Whatever he’s selling, I’m buying.
Case for: he’s versatile on offense and defense, he would give you positional flexibility with rotations, he’s well coached from a school that puts out solid pros, he’s mature and the Wizards have prioritized high character guys, high basketball IQ
Case against: is he athletic and quick enough to guard smaller players on the perimeter in the NBA and has he already peaked?
Aaron Nesmith, 6-6ish, 21 years old, Vanderbilt
I see Nesmith maxing out as a Martell Webster-level role player. You can never get enough shooting but I don’t buy the defense enough for him to make sense with the 9th pick.
Case for: was a human flame thrower from three in college — especially as a sophomore, played for Jerry Stackhouse in a complex offense so should come in understanding more NBA concepts than most.
Case against: he only played 14 games as a sophomore so there is some chance he was just on a long hot streak before he got hurt, he’s got the “3” but will he be able to “D” at a high level?
There’s been some talk that they might take a guard like Killian Hayes or Tyrese Haliburton but I would be surprised to see them take either guy. I’m not ruling it out because as soon as I put that in writing it becomes guaranteed to happen. I just don’t think that’s the message they want to send to Wall and Bradley Beal. I wouldn't entirely rule out R.J. Hampton as being in the mix either, especially if they trade down.
If the Wizards take a wing in the first round, I would expect to see them take a big in the second. And vice versa if they take a big first. Once again, I wouldn’t rule out them taking two wings or two bigs but I don’t see that as super likely. I think the caliber and depth of centers available at 37 is much stronger than at small forward. That’s why you see more centers listed here.
If the Wizards take a big in the second round...
Isaiah Stewart, 6-9ish, 19 years old, Washington
Stewart reminds me of a better scoring Marcin Gortat and I love the idea of him setting bone-crushing screens for Beal. However, I think he will be long gone by 37.
Case for: he was a grown man among boys even as a freshmen, relentless rebounder, can pound people inside, solid touch
Case against: probably not going to be great when switched on the perimeter, didn’t get to display much shooting range in college
Xavier Tillman (likely gone by 37), 6-9ish, 21 years old, Michigan State
Tillman is in the mid-30s of a lot of draft boards but I think some team will fall in love and take him in the late first round.
Case for: well-coached, mature, high basketball IQ, physical rebounder, better lateral quickness than he probably gets credit for, seems to end up in the right place at the right time
Case against: not the long and athletic rim-protector that some of these guys are, not much of a floor-spacer at this point
Zeke Nnaji, 6-10ish, 19 years old, Arizona
I like Nnaji but I’ve compared him to Thomas Bryant before (who I also like) and we already have one of those. The Wizards need a change of pace.
Case for: runs the floor like a guard, finishes well around the rim, good mid-range shooter who should be able to extend his range
Case against: not the imposing physical specimen some of these guys are, inconsistent defensive effort
Udoka Azubuike, 7-0ish, 21 years old, Kansas
I enjoyed that Kansas team and I like Azubuike a lot. But I just can’t see him being anything more than a situational, rotation big in the NBA. It’s hard to keep someone on the court in big games when they that can’t shoot, make free throws, or guard on the perimeter. Sorry, Big ‘Doke!
Case for: elite lob threat and elite rim-protector, just a really large individual
Case against: made great strides in his lateral quickness and is still slow-footed, not going to space the floor, bad free-throw shooter, can't really put the ball on the floor, hasn't shown much passing so far
Daniel Oturu, 6-10ish, 21 years old, Minnesota
He probably gives you most of what Jalen Smith does but about 20 picks later in the draft. Smith plays harder though. When it looks good, it looks really good. When it doesn’t, it just looks weird. Oturu would probably be my last choice of the guys in this range because I can’t get the lowlights out of my mind. He wouldn’t be a bad pick at 37 if these others were gone, however.
Case for: projectable three-point shooter, scores around the basket even without a lot of moves, can block shots.
Case against: not great defending in space, looks awkward out there at times, not polished offensively, is the effort going to be consistent?
Killian Tillie, 6-10ish, 22 years old, Gonzaga
Tillie would have been a fringe lottery pick if he didn’t have such an extensive injury history. At 37, I would roll the dice with him, personally. Especially, if Bertans leaves in free agency.
Case for: has really good touch, can really shoot it from three, helps facilitate for others, knows where to be defensively, can play the four as well.
Case against: made of papier-mâché
Paul Reed, 6-9ish, 21 years old, DePaul
Reed will do the dirty work. The Wizards need guys who look forward to doing the less glamorous things like rebounding and defending. I don’t buy him ever providing much offense though and that might make me hesitate if some of these other guys are still around.
Case for: Pogo stick athlete, great rebounder and shot-blocker in college
Case against: thin frame and maybe more of a “4” size-wise, raw offensively with wonky shooting mechanics
If the Wizards take a wing in the second round...
Robert Woodard II, 6-7ish, 21 years old, Mississippi State
I love Woodard’s fit in Washington but I doubt he is around at 37, sadly.
Case for: big for his position, high three-point percentage, great on-call defender
Case against: limited three-point sample size, is he quick enough guard smaller perimeter players?
Jordan Nwora, 6-7ish, 22 years old, Louisville
I could see him having a career similar to Reggie Bullock. I’m not sure the Wizards need that right now.
Case for: good size and great shooter
Case against: probably doesn’t do much else at an NBA level, disappears at times
Isaiah Joe, 6-5ish, 21 years old, Arkansas
Not enough defensive potential for me to want to add a small-ish wing.
Case for: projects as a knockdown three-point shooter
Case against: didn’t actually knock down threes this year, not going to be a great defender, not strong enough yet
Elijah Hughes, 6-7ish, 22 years old, Syracuse
He's a volume shooter but he's not yet a volume maker (34% on seven threes per game). Playing in Syracuse’s zone makes it tough to tell if he’s much of a defender. That would scare me away at 37.
Case for: more than just a shooter as he had to create a lot of his own offense at Syracuse, does a little bit of everything
Case against: can he defend and can he improve his three-point percentage? Does he have an elite skill?
Tyler Bey, 6-7 wing, 22 years old, Colorado
I get serious Dominic McGuire vibes from Bey. Read into that however you’d like.
Case for: long, athletic, good around the rim, projects as a good defender
Case against: played the 4 and 5 in college but will be expected to transition to the perimeter full time, can he spread the floor reliably from the NBA line?
Personally, I don’t love most of the wing options at this point in the draft. Not saying Tommy Sheppard will feel the same way but if he does, it wouldn’t shock me to see them use this pick to lock up a long-term back-up point guard.
That’s probably the deepest position in this draft and might be hard to resist if the right guy falls. There’s been some chatter about their willingness to trade back into the late second round and it could be for whomever is left between Malachi Flynn, Cassius Winston, Devon Dotson, Payton Pritchard, Tre Jones, and Nico Mannion.
For a full post-draft breakdown, make sure to check out this Thursday’s Bleav in Wizards podcast. We will be reviewing the Wizards’ picks, giving draft grades, and breaking down which free agents make the most sense based on the draft. And if you were curious about how the pre-draft process worked, make sure to check out our interview with former Maryland point guard Anthony Cowan.