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The Wizards should evaluate these wing prospects for the draft

Here are some under-the-radar wing prospects the Wizards should evaluate prior to the 2021 NBA Draft.

NCAA Basketball: Virginia at Towson
Trey Murphy shoots a three for Virginia
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Wizards should drink a Red Bull because they desperately need someone to give them wings. The 2021 NBA Draft just happens to feature some really good ones. Unfortunately, most of the more prominent names are likely to be off the board by the time the Wizards are on the clock at 15. Jonathan Kuminga, Scottie Barnes, Keon Johnson, Josh Giddey, Moses Moody, and Franz Wagner are a few of the options they are likely to miss out on.

So who’s left? There are a few less heralded players who could provide a lot of value later in the draft. Most of them would be considerable reaches with the 15th pick so I would advocate for trading down and securing one or two of these guys if the opportunity presents itself.

When crafting this list, I considered a couple things we’ve heard from Tommy Sheppard over the last few weeks: the desire to add athleticism, shooting, and defense on the wings.

He also wants people who could come and contribute (at least to some degree) right away. There are a couple of other intriguing young wing prospects (Jalen Johnson, Ziaire Williams, and BJ Boston) who I’ll write about in a separate article. Those guys could still be there at 15 but I left them off this list because they are likely projects who would take a few years to contribute.

So to recap, I tried to identify guys that might be available at 15 or later, are reasonably athletic, can space the floor (or at least project to), can defend, and could likely play a role next season. Or could at least check a few of those boxes.

I also asked Kevin Broom to run these candidates through his stat-based draft analysis tool, Ye Olde Draft Analyzer (YODA) to see what can be gleaned from the numbers. One caveat on YODA: it uses measurements and numbers from the draft combine and will be updated once that’s taken place. Player grades are likely to shift before the draft but at least this way we can begin to see if and when the numbers back up the eye test.

Chris Duarte, 6-6, Oregon, senior

Statistics: 17.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 42.4% 3P%

Case for: Flat out shoots it, defended well at the college level, puts it on the floor well enough to create for himself

Case against: He’s basically ancient by NBA standards at 23 years old, probably won’t add much to his game

Likely draft range: mid to late first

YODA: Grades like a mid-to-late first in a typical draft. Excellent shooter who finished well inside. Not much rebounding. Some playmaking but an unimpressive assist-to-turnover ratio.

Trey Murphy, 6-9, Virginia (spent his 1st 2 seasons at Rice), junior

Statistics: 11.3 points, 3.4 rebounds, 43.3% 3P%

Case for: Cam Johnson-esque shooter plus bounce, his shot profile is tailormade for the NBA, he understands team defense like most UVA guys, good on-ball defender, he’s long and athletic (he put some people on posters this year)

Case against: lack of physical strength gives me Bertans vibes, doesn’t give you anything else (which is fine at a certain point in the draft)

Likely draft range: mid to late first

YODA: Grades like a 2nd round pick. Terrific shooting but major red flags on the lack of overall production. Not much rebounding for a 6-9 G/F.

Josh Christopher, 6-5, Arizona State, freshman

Statistics: 14.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 30.5% 3P%, 80% FT%

Case for: Could be this year’s Kevin Porter Jr. (i.e.: the stats aren’t super impressive but the ways he actually scores certainly are), the shot looks good and the free throw % is a good sign, good handle and shiftiness to create space for himself, good athlete, just seems like a better fit for the NBA than college, actually looked really good defensively when engaged

Case against: wasn’t always engaged, consistency, efficiency / shot selection

Likely draft range: mid to late first

YODA: Grades like a late 2nd rounder or undrafted free agent. Poor shooting, meh everything else. A Kevin Porter Jr. comp? Yikes.

Kessler Edwards, 6-8, Pepperdine, junior

Statistics: 17.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1 steal, 1.2 blocks, 37.8% 3P% (43.7% as a sophomore on similar volume), 87.6% FT%

Case for: he defends multiple positions, he scores efficiently, he does a lot of things efficiently (see below), he spaces the floor, he can score facing up, finished well around the rim this season

Case against: unconventional lower body movement while shooting, didn’t play against tough competition and was usually quiet in games against Gonzaga (best team on their schedule every year)

Likely draft range: late first to early second

(Author’s note: I watched WAY too much WCC basketball this year and I love Edwards. There’s always a few guys I’m irrationally excited about every year and he’s my guy this year. He kind of reminds me of Rui Hachimura — in a good way)

YODA: Grades like a second rounder. Good shooter who rebounds a bit.

Marcus Bagley, 6-8, Arizona State, freshman

Statistics: 10.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists, .8 steals, 34.7% 3P%, 71.9% FT%

Case for: good size, projects as a sturdy 3-and-D wing like a Jae Crowder, shooting form looks pretty good, Marvin Bagley’s younger brother (not sure this is a pro or a con, but it’s apparently a requirement to mention it whenever you write about him)

Case against: took 6 threes per game but hit below 35%, really inconsistent, passive at times, shot selection

Likely draft range: late first to mid second round

YODA: Grades like a 2nd rounder. Meh shooting. No playmaking for teammates.

Herb Jones, 6-7, Alabama, senior

Statistics: 11.2 points, 6.6, 3.3 assists, 1.7 steals, 1.1 blocks, 35.1% 3P%, 71.3% FT%

Case for: Jones just stood out on most possessions because he makes winning plays (I realize that sounds cliche but if you watched them play you know what I mean), smart and pesky defender, good lateral quickness, athletic finisher in transition, good secondary creator on offense, unselfish, made enough shots to keep defenses honest this year, Mr. Intangibles, SEC POY and DPOY in 2020-2021

Case against: career 28.8% from three, no one likes to draft seniors

Likely draft range: second round

YODA: Grades like a 2nd rounder. Unimpressive shooter and a turnover machine. Sometimes turnovers are a positive indicator, but not when it’s a senior with a 1.2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Chris Smith, 6-9, UCLA, senior (but still only 21)

Statistics: In 8 games as a senior: 12.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1 steal, 50% 3P%, 79.4% FT%

Junior season: 13.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, 34% 3P%, 84% FT%

Case for: really long for a 3-and-D player, shoots well for his size, smart and active help defender, switchable / multi-positional defender teams love, can stay in front of quicker guards due to length and good lateral quickness,

Case against: tore an ACL this past year so would likely miss a good portion of 2021-22 season, inconsistent, passive at times, needs to get strong to guard bigger opponents effectively

Likely draft range: second round to undrafted

YODA: Don’t draft.

Yves Pons, 6-7, Tennessee, senior

Statistics: 8.46 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.8 blocks, 27.4% 3P%, 78.9% FT%

Case for: Pons is a grown man — he could come in right away and not be bullied by any of the bigger small forwards in the league, he is already used to being a role player and checking his ego after being on a deep Tennessee team, his junior season was really intriguing (10.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.4 blocks, 35% from three, SEC DPOY)

Case against: never really looked comfortable this year, took a back seat to younger teammates (Keon Johnson and Jaden Springer), career 32% from three, offensively limited

Likely draft range: second round to undrafted

YODA: Don’t draft. Poor shooting, so-so rebounding, no playmaking but lots of turnovers.