The Wizards front office under Tommy Sheppard is likely pragmatic enough that their reload-not-rebuild plan won’t lean much on who they select in the 2020 draft. That’s good because my preliminary analysis of the 2020 draft class can be summarized with a single word: yikes.
The draft class isn’t barren, but it is unusually weak. The highest rated player in my stat-based analysis tool — Ye Olde Draft Analyzer (YODA for short) — has a score typical of someone ranked 5-8. Only three players have a rating that would put them in the top 10 of a “normal” draft.
The draft class isn’t making up for the lack of top-shelf prospects with depth either. Typically, YODA has 25-30 players with a “draftable” grade. This year: 20.
Just 10 players have true “first round” grades. Another six rate as late firsts or early seconds in a more more normal year.
There’s a group of players who are borderline. This type of prospect (think Garrison Mathews) is often available as an undrafted free agent, but a few could end up going in the first round.
If there’s a bright side to the draft it’s that the group at the top is so muddled, closely bunched and speculative, one of the truly top players could slip to where the Wizards will likely be picking. And with the number of players with a mismatch between reputation and performance, it’s possible someone highly rated in YODA could be available in round two.
With a first round pick and a high second, the Wizards should be in position to get a couple prospects with first round value.
Everyone in this draft has serious questions. Anthony Edwards was shockingly inefficient, James Wiseman and LaMelo Ball barely played, Tyrese Haliburton is skinny and has a goofy-looking shot with a slow release, Obi Toppin doesn’t play defense, Onyeka Okongwu is undersized and doesn’t have shooting range. And so on.
This may be the year to snag a 3&D wing, perhaps in the second round or as an undrafted free agent. In the “draftable” list (below) are Nate Hinton and Joel Ayayi — players who rate well in YODA but haven’t appeared in many mock drafts I’ve consulted.
Here’s the preliminary list of prospects YODA says are worth drafting (this isn’t in order and it’s subject to change as I continue the analysis) and where they would rate in a “normal” draft year:
- Daniel Oturu, SO, Minnesota — late 1st/early 2nd
- Isaiah Stewart, FR, Washington — 2nd round
- Jalen Smith, SO, Maryland — late 1st
- Vernon Carey, FR, Duke — late lottery/mid-1st
- Xavier Tillman, JR, Michigan State — late 1st/early 2nd
- Obi Toppin, SO, Dayton — top 10
- Onyeka Okongwu, FR, USC — top 10
- Reggie Perry, SO, Mississippi State — 2nd round
- Killian Tillie, SR, Gonzaga — 2nd round
WINGS (SG/SF types)
- R.J. Hampton, International — late 1st/early 2nd
- Aaron Nesmith, SO, Vanderbilt — late 1st/early 2nd
- Devin Vassell, SO, Florida State — mid-1st
- Nate Hinton, SO, Houston — late 1st
- Isaac Okoro, FR, Auburn — late 1st/early 2nd
- Anthony Edwards, FR, Georgia — mid-1st
- Joel Ayayi, SO, Gonzaga — mid-1st
- Killian Hayes, International — late 1st/early 2nd
- LaMelo Ball, International — late lottery
- Malachi Flynn, SR, San Diego State — late 1st
- Tyrese Haliburton, SO, Iowa State — top 10
Haliburton may be more of a combo guard than a true PG — something that shouldn’t reduce his value as the NBA continues to de-emphasize position.
In the borderline group — guys who just miss the cutoff for a “draftable” grade (at least at this point) but who are close enough that they’re still worth taking in the second round or signing after the draft, I have:
- Cassius Stanley, G/F, Duke
- Payton Pritchard, PG, Oregon
- Devon Dotson, PG, Kansas
- Jahmi’us Ramsey, SG, Texas Tech
- Precious Achiuw, F/C, Memphis
- Josh Green, G/F, Arizona
- Mason Jones, SG, Arkansas
- Tyrell Terry, PG, Stanford
- Saddiq Bey, F, Villanova
Prospects appearing high in the analysis of other draft analysts and mock draft makers who are out of the draftable zone in YODA at this point include: Deni Avdija, Cole Anthony, Tyrese Maxey, Patrick Williams, Theo Maledon, Leandro Balmaro, Jaden McDaniels.
Note: I don’t have a grade on Wiseman because he played only three games at Memphis this season.
There’s much more work to be done in evaluating the draft class. There’s time, of course, since the draft won’t be held until October. At this point in the process, the top pick will almost certainly be the lowest rating since I started evaluating drafts, and the overall prospect pool looks shallow.
The Wizards will do well if they can find a prospect or two who can join the rotation in two or three seasons. It’s unlikely they’ll get immediate help from this year’s draft class.