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July mailbag answers: How much say will Unseld have on personnel, and Wizards draft questions

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Here are the answers to selected mailbag questions for the month of July 2021.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Denver Nuggets
Now that he’s the head coach, Wes Unseld, Jr. will have to get his staff together in time before the Draft and Summer League.
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Here are the answers to selected questions in our mailbag. Our next mailbag is in mid-August! Kevin answered one question specifically yesterday, which you can find here.


How much input do Head Coaches have with personnel decisions, players and assistant coaches? It appears the GM is about to make all the calls in D.C., Is that the norm across the league? (OK Now)

John Heiser: It depends on the coach. Gregg Popovich clearly has most of the say in all decisions. However, it's not unheard of for an NBA GM to handle all ‘roster decisions’ and have a say in the ‘minutes decisions’ too. Sometimes there’s a division of power where the GM handles the roster and the coach handles the minutes. Most coaches with prowess will bring strong opinions of personnel and demand certain assistants. Scouts and GMs review players all year round. Coaches don’t bother with any of that until after the season.

I expect a mix with the new Wizards staff. Clearly, Wes Unseld, Jr. will want some assistants he knows and trusts. Can we afford them? Scott Brooks had guys in mind but often couldn’t land them so hopefully things change this time.

Matt Modderno: I agree with John on these. It sort of depends on the specific situation. Tommy Sheppard has essentially said he expects to fill out the staff with other highly qualified individuals and people with diverse skill sets so I expect him to fill out the staff with some of the other names they interviewed during this process. I would expect Wes Unseld Jr. to have input into that process as well.

Who are your bets for biggest surprises in this draft? (WhyNotTyler)

Modderno: Outside of the top 5, I’m really high on James Bouknight from UConn. Outside of the top 10, I’m really high on Jaden Springer from Tennesse. Outside of the top 20, I’m really high on Miles McBride from West Virginia and Josh Christopher from Arizona State. Outside of the top 50, I’m really high on Jason Preston from Ohio. Apparently, I just like all of the combo guards.

John: First, the guy who could be a legit big timer and go way earlier than expected? Ziaire Williams. 6’9 with handles and scoring ability. He could be a top scorer and shot creator... eventually. He’s 5-star young man that’s going to take time to develop. He has the same issues that have plagued Cam Reddish since he was drafted.

Cam has shown flashes but also turns it over like that's his job, falls down a lot, etc. Reddish can’t do more than that because he has been and still is too weak to handle NBA physicality. Ziaire is taller and weaker than Cam was. Ziaire has the physical package, wingspan, athleticism to cover ground defensively and some serious refinement for his age. His weaknesses affect his game too much. Once he’s stronger he won’t fall away and fade as much. It all starts there.

Second, If Jared Butler gets cleared physically I’d seriously consider him at #15. With red flags like his, it comes down to team doctors. He may be off some boards entirely and only worthy of selection after a certain tier for others. Just based on his game he’d be perfect for this Wizards team.

Third, I expect Neemias Queta to be a pro for a long time. He’s come so far since he arrived in the States. He can defend the rim, rebound and has a knack for quality passing too. Low-risk rotation center waiting to happen.

if you are a GM, would you go all in, pay the tax, trade some young guys and our 2021 1st pick just to get some help? (GreatWallofWizards)

Yanir Rubinstein: If I were a GM....Well, the short answer is that various GMs have tried going all-in on other teams with Russell Westbrook and none of them has succeeded except when Russell was eating much less percentage-wise of the salary cap (in other words, his early days with the Oklahoma City Thunder), and even that was with Durant and Harden on the roster.

So, with an aging Westbrook taking up 35 percent of the cap I would not go all in. I would actually try to get as many picks as possible in either round as well as young guys by trading Beal and Hachimura in the offseason.

Modderno: I would not be married to any of our young guys. I don’t see any of them as franchise changing players. Rui Hachimura is the best asset of the group to me but even he shouldn’t be off the table for the right deal.

Marcus Atkinson: If I were the GM, I would have traded Beal already and blown this thing up. I don’t believe the current iteration of the team is fit to contend. I think they have a team good enough to get in the playoffs but without money or draft capital, they will have a hard time improving on what they already have.

With that said, let’s just say as the GM, I am thinking about this roster for one year with the chance to push for contention. I would absolutely package some young guys, first round pick and see if you can get some veteran help. If you are saying you are competing, then you have to go all in.

There is no reason to draft a project with the 15th pick. You are trying to determine if you want to lock into Beal beyond this year (and he is trying to determine if he wants to stay), and you only have Westbrook for another year after next season. You have to give Beal and Westbrook as much help as possible if that’s your goal. Getting projects won’t get them to where they really want to be with this core in the window of time that they have.

Which position would you draft for the Wizards? (WhyNotTyler)

John: Guard or wing. Who exactly depends on how the board falls that day. I’d snap up Moses Moody in a heartbeat and at least consider moving up to get him. Its a tougher call between Kispert and Duarte. I wouldn’t mind trading down to make some roster space (sorry Hutch-Tok) and add a another pick. Tre Mann is intriguing as is Bones Hyland.

Will the current coronavirus debacle with Team USA have any impact on the Wizards’ view of Bradley Beal as they approach how FA? (Kalorama)

John: No and No. Chris Paul just had to sit DURING the playoffs and no one tried to make it an anchor around his neck, for good reason. It's crushing for Brad but there’s no debacle, how dramatic! And it’s also a huge hit for his legacy and by extension the Wizards team profile. JaVale McGee is about to add a medal to his titles while John and Brad have neither. Brutal.

Do you think the Wizards will draft for what we actually need right now (wing, defense, shooting) or continue to roll the dice on a high upside guy @ 15 like Isaiah Todd? (b3nz)

Marcus: So it’s interesting because when they drafted Deni Avjida last year, I really believe they drafted the best player available and didn’t really address a need. It’s true that the Wizards needed a wing, but even at that time when they had Wall, he was a bad fit next to that backcourt and he’s a bad fit with the Westbrook/Beal backcourt as well.

If the team was drafted off of need, a guy that is a 3 and D type would have been a better fit, so with that said, I don’t have confidence they will change that up. I believe given the short window they have with Westbrook or Beal, they should draft based on need, but they seem to think drafting the best player available is the best mode and I don’t believe you will see that change.

Modderno: I think they will attempt to add a player that checks multiple boxes. If there’s an already solid player who could fill a need but also still have room to improve, that would certainly appeal to them. I definitely don’t see Todd specifically going that high though.

Any word on the Wizards considering moving the No. 15 selection in this draft (trade up, trade down, trade for player)? (gavalon56)

Modderno: No official word on that but Tommy Sheppard hasn’t been afraid to be active on draft night so you can’t rule it out. He also wasn’t afraid to slightly reach for Rui Hachimura and dismissed the notion of trying to trade down for Rui during that draft. So the answer is, I have no actual idea but anything is in play at this point.