On Wednesday, the Washington Wizards announced that they have invited Oregon senior Chris Duarte to a pre-draft workout tomorrow. He is the only player in the workout, so this is a sign that they are taking a serious look at him.
Duarte was one of the prospects we covered on this week’s Bleav in Wizards podcast with NBA Draft analyst Rafael Barlowe. Barlowe, who hosts the Locked On NBA Draft podcast, believes Duarte is a good fit for the Wizards.
If you cannot see the embed above, click here to listen to the episode.
“He’s a little older, I think he’ll be 24 on opening day,” said Barlowe. “I think he’s someone that you can plug in right away, that can come in and play and knock down shots.”
Wizards General Manager Tommy Sheppard said in postseason media availability that he would look to add 3-and-D wings to the roster this offseason. Duarte is a prototypical wing and could come in right away and play next season.
Last season, Duarte averaged 17.1 points per game and made 42.4 percent of his three point shots for the Ducks, who made the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament. He was also named the 2020-21 Jerry West Award winner.
That maturity is partly why many draft pundits feel 15 might be too high to take Duarte. He will be 24 years old by the time the Wizards play their next game, which is ancient by NBA Draft standards.
Both Rui Hachimura and Deni Avdija, the Wizards’ last two first round draft picks were seen as upside players who could also contribute right away. Duarte would represent a mild departure from that approach. As a 24 year old, Duarte won’t have as much room to improve athletically like Hachimura and Avdija. But given the team’s win-now mandate with Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal, picking someone like Duarte might be the best course of action for them anyway.
Of course, there is one common factor that ties Hachimura, Avdija and Duarte together: All are non-American players. Duarte is from the Dominican Republic and wasn’t in the United States until high school when he moved to New York state. He has not represented the Dominicans in FIBA competitions, like the 2022 AmeriCup qualifiers due to his college commitments.
What are your thoughts on Duarte and do you think he’d be a good fit for the Wizards, whether at the No. 15 pick or perhaps at a lower spot? Let us know in the comments below.