On this week’s Bleav in Wizards podcast, Bullets Forever’s draft guru Kevin Broom joined me for an NBA Draft preview extravaganza. We spent the majority of the hour-long conversation focused on players the Wizards should be considering with the 15th pick or later in the first round in the event they trade down.
Broom and I approach our draft evaluations very differently but were largely on the same page about most prospects. He uses his stat-based draft tool, YODA, to analyze production while accounting for age, level of competition, physical tools, athleticism, and intangibles. I spend entirely too much time watching college basketball and filling up notebooks on prospects throughout the year.
For the last two seasons, both of us have been high on Gonzaga guard Joel Ayayi. Ayayi won’t be drafted in the first round (most likely) but we felt the need to show him some love during the podcast since both of us appreciate him more than the general consensus. Ayayi is a do-it-all guard who can, for lack of a better description, do it all. He’s got good size, can pass, shoot, dribble, and rebound well for his position.
Both Broom and I think Ayayi would be a steal for the Wizards in the early second round. Despite that, some draft publications have Ayayi going much later than that. That got me thinking, who are the “sleepers” that might be worth it for the Wizards to take a flier in the second round or if they go undrafted. With that, let’s get to the list!
Austin Reaves, 6-5, Oklahoma, senior
Statistics: 18.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 30.5% 3P%, 86.5% FT%
Case for: bucket getter, has some wiggle to his game with the ball, can create for himself, has an extensive offensive “bag” (people still say that, right?), plays with good pace and changes speeds well, creates for others well enough to play some point as well, good track record of Oklahoma scorers translating to the NBA (see: Trae Young and Buddy Hield), got stuck taking a lot of bad shots (grenades) the last years as the main offensive weapon at OU but shot very well in his first two seasons at Wichita State
Case against: probably not big or athletic enough to be a full-time two-guard in the NBA, streaky shooter, doesn’t have great lateral foot-speed so who does he guard?
David Duke, 6-5, Providence, junior
Statistics: 16.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.2 steals, 38.9% 3P%, 79.2% FT%
Case for: would be big for a point guard (if you think he can play point full-time in the NBA), really good defender, shot well from the perimeter, good athlete with good quickness, plays like a collegiate version of Russell Westbrook in that he likes to get the rebound and go coast-to-coast to attack the basket
Case against: plays like a collegiate version of Russell Westbrook in that he shot it poorly from the field and turned the ball over a lot, does not finish well at the rim despite being big and strong for his position, calls his own number a little too often for someone likely trying to make it as a back-up point guard
Quentin Grimes, 6-5, Houston, junior
Statistics: 17.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2 assists, 40.3% 3P%, 78.8% FT%
Case for: he hits threes and plays D and teams love guys who can do both, smart defender but also a tough one who isn’t afraid to bang with bigger players or pick someone up full court, puts the ball on the floor better than most of the “3-and-D” archetype players, good passer
Case against: a bit small for a 3-and-D wing, not a plus athlete which could hurt him against quicker guards, can be streaky as shooter, made almost all of his threes with his toes almost right up on the line and struggled even a foot farther out, likely doesn’t have the handle to be much of a creator at the NBA level
Joe Wieskamp, 6-7, Iowa, junior
Statistics: 14.8 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 46.2% 3P%, 67.7% FT% (85.6% the year before)
Case for: 42-inch vertical jump, good lateral quickness, 6-11 wingspan, flamethrower from three-point range, hit greater than half of his threes from beyond 25 feet, versatile as a shooter (off the catch, off the dribble, off movement, etc.)
Case against: release is on the slower side, doesn’t play like a guy with a 42-inch vertical, gets beat off the dribble more than he should for someone with his quickness, not strong enough yet to defend bigger wings, not much of a ball-handler or passer at this point
Aaron Wiggins, 6-7, Maryland, junior
Statistics: 14.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.1 steals, 35.6% 3P%, 772.% FT%
Case for: prototypical size and length for an NBA wing, pretty good athlete, shot well at the rim, perimeter shooting seems likely to translate, good rebounder for his position, won’t need to be a high-usage guy to be effective, decent ball-handler for his size and likely role
Case against: consistency is a concern as he disappeared for long stretches of games, not always the most assertive (although that improved considerably the second half of his junior season)
RaiQuan Gray, 6-8, Florida State, junior
Statistics: 11.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists, .7 blocks, 1.2 steals, 26.7% 3P%, 76.3% FT%
Case for: basically a 6-8 point forward at Florida State, great passer and ball-handler for a big forward, great grab-and-go potential, good defender
Case against: not a good shooter, conditioning was an issue earlier in his career, basically Scottie Barnes without the plus athleticism
Vrenz Bleijenbergh, 6-11, Antwerp, 20 years old
Statistics: 9.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.3 steals, 33.5% 3P%, 67.5% FT%
Case for: he’s basically a supersized guard or wing, he’s a really good passer, strong ball-handler for his size, when he takes his time and is squared-up his jumpshot looks good, offers many of the same positives as Deni Advija
Case against: not a great athlete, doesn’t have great quickness, not a consistent shooter, needs to get stronger, offers many of the same negatives as Deni Advija
Sandro Mamukelashvili, 6-10, Seton Hall, senior
Statistics: 17.5 points, 7.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.1 steals, 33.6% 3P%, 71.4% FT%
Case for: made over 43% of his threes as a junior, really good passer for his size, can create for others like a poor man’s (maybe broke man’s?) Nikola Jokic, a stretch big who can grab-and-go and initiate offense is rare and intriguing
Case against: out of control and sloppy at times, arms are short and he isn’t very quick or a great athlete so who does he guard? Was his junior year shooting % just a fluke or is he really that good of a shooter?
Filip Petrusev, 6-11, Gonzaga / Mega Bemax
Statistics: 21.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1 block, 46.2% 3PT%, 71.4% FT%
Case for: the knock at Gonzaga was that he’d never be a floor-spacer so he went overseas and shot extremely well from three, skilled around the basket with nice touch, projects as a Brook Lopez-type offensively as he can shoot and post-up effectively,
Case against: not super long or athletic for a center so questionable ability to protect the basket, slow-footed and will struggle guarding in space, release is slow on the jumpshot
Neemias Queta, 7-1, Utah State, junior
Statistics: 14.9 points, 10.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 3.3 blocks, 1.1 steals, 70.7% FT%
Case for: he is a gigantic human being who even NBA players will struggle to shoot over, definition of a rim-protector, sneaky good passer for his size, good at dunking
Case against: he will get hunted on every possession because he just doesn’t have the foot speed, probably only a situational guy like Boban Marjanovic, does not project to be much of a shooter