Leading up to the draft, I did a series of under-the-radar guards and wings the Wizards should either consider trading back into the draft to pick up late or add as free agents. I intended to do a similar list for bigs but ran out of time before draft night. One of the names for consideration was Yoeli Childs, a 6-8 forward/center out of Brigham Young University.
Luckily for me, that film study and draft write-up won’t go to waste because Childs is signing with the Washington Wizards. While the terms have not been announced, it’s likely a non-guaranteed minimum salary contract. That means he’ll have to play great during training camp to earn a roster spot — those are in short supply at the moment.
Childs finished as BYU’s all-time leading rebounder and sixth on their all-time scoring list. The 22-year old senior averaged 22 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 block this past season.
He connected on 49% of his three-pointers, albeit on only 2.4 attempts per game. His senior season was limited to 19 games due to suspension (eligibility issues related to testing the draft waters the previous season) and the pandemic. He shot in the low 30s in his sophomore and junior years, and he’s a poor free throw shooter, so it’s likely his percentage would have dropped if he’d played more. His shot did look more fluid by the time he graduated, so those numbers may not actually be a fluke.
So what are the Wizards getting? He has a solid low post game, can drive and finish with either hand, he’s a pretty good rebounder, and he plays with energy. While he does make some spectacular blocks from time to time, he wasn’t an overly impressive defender during his college career.
He is mobile, however, so he might be able to develop into a switchable defender over time. Given his size and defensive limitations, he’ll likely need to carve out a niche as a stretch five and hustle player.
It isn’t a perfect comparison because he’s already shown more flashes of floor spacing ability but he reminds me somewhat of Trevor Booker. He can post up, drive, beat other bigs down the floor, block some shots, and move his feet. Consistently knocking down open three-pointers would really unlock the rest of his game.
In his stat-based pre-draft analysis, Kevin Broom had Childs with a late first/early second grade — 25th overall in this draft class. Wrote Broom:
He may be undersized to play center, but I think he could hold down a backup role because of his production — 59% on twos, 49% on threes to go with 30.8 points and 12.5 rebounds per 40 minutes. A few cautions (and why he’s ranked just 25th with that combination of shot-making, volume scoring and rebounding) — 53.8% from the free throw line, and low assist, steals and blocks. He may go undrafted, in which case the Wizards would be smart to bring him to training camp and see if he can adjust to the NBA.
In a typical year, I would expect Childs to spend the majority of the season in the G League, refining his skills and continuing to work on his body. It currently seems there will not be a 2020-21 G League season, so he may need to go overseas.
One thing that could help his development whether in the G League or abroad is his maturity level. Childs is well-regarded by teammates and coaches and fits the high-character mold Tommy Sheppard has sought when making personnel decisions.
Of the remaining options available on the undrafted free agent list, Childs was probably the best Wizards fans could have hoped for. As you can see from the video below, he’s the type of person you want to root for to make it in the league. To put it simply, I’m a fan of Childs as a person and a prospect. This is the type of low-risk, potentially medium-reward signing we’ve come to expect from Sheppard.