Full disclosure: I have barely begun to watch this year’s draft class. I’ve read the mocks by ESPN, Tankathon and Sam Vecenie at The Athletic. I’ll lean heavily on those breakdowns for this article. All of them put Kentucky’s TyTy Washington at the top of this year’s point guard class. I’ve seen him as high as 8.
As a dream-crushing wet-blanket reminder, rookie guards shouldn’t be counted on to turn things around right away. Even the best ones in their class are often net negatives early in their careers. They contribute but often give as much as they get. That’s true of Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green, Davion Mitchell and Jalen Suggs this season. Josh Giddey just barely reaches into the positive VORP (Value Over Replacement Player) at .4 but remains -.9 in Box +/-.
The Wizards would pick 11th or 12th if the current standings hold. The good news, if there is any to being a purgatory team, is that the top of this draft is forward and wing heavy. Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren, Paolo Banchero, Jaden Ivey, Johnny Davis, AJ Griffin, Benedict Mathurin and Keegan Murray are all in that mix. Memphis center Jalen Duran is up there too. The bad news is that we currently sit behind teams that could also be PG shopping such as Portland and New York. The Trailblazers will have their own pick and the Pelicans’ pick from the CJ McCollum trade. Portland has won 4 in a row but they just put Jusuf Nurkic on the shelf for the rest of the season. It’s going to be hard for the Wizards to pass them in the draft order.
Who’s projected to be available?
TyTy Washington, Kentucky
20 year old all around point guard. According to Vecenie he’s shown 3 level scoring ability with good shot creation. He’s gotten hurt in a couple games which cut into his early season streak of 15-5-5 production while shooting 54/43/83. TyTy had a 17 assist game vs UGA that turned some heads. Scouts worry he doesn’t have elite athleticism and lacks a blow by but “He processes the game at a high level.” ←SOLD! Checked in on UK versus LSU but TyTy wasn’t playing. The injury was collision related vs Florida on February 12, so may be a bone bruise.
Haven’t seen him mocked any lower than 10. If Washington (the player) holds this draft positioning it would be #SoWizards (the franchise) to win just enough to pick after the Blazers and Knicks.
Dyson Daniels, G League Ignite
Turns 19 soon. I’ve casually watched a few Ignite games this season. Rapid fire opinion on Daniels is that he’s somewhere between Dante Exum and Lonzo Ball. He’s not the passer Lonzo was at the same stage but he has the size and unselfishness to create for others. Like Exum he tends to disappear into the background despite his gifts at 6’6. Just haven’t seen him do any one thing that wows me.
They say Good basketball IQ and could be the best defensive guard in his class. Can he shoot it? Can he get downhill? What if he’s too passive? Current range is late lottery into the teens.
Jean Montero, Overtime Elite
All caught up on Montero, thanks YouTube! Currently only 18, he’s a shot creator with an arsenal of footwork to match his handle. Very much a combo/scoring guard but I thought his highlights showed some adept passing too, more than I expected. Hasn’t shot terribly well for OTE which leads to questions about fit. Not lighting anyone up defensively either. Feels like a prospect who could slide into being a good value pick late in the 1st or early in the 2nd round.
Kennedy Chandler, Tennessee
6’0 penetrator who doesn’t shoot very well, 33% from 3 and 64% from the free throw line this year. Vecenie compares him to Sharife Cooper. So I did too. Chandler looks better defensively at least. Cooper went in the 40s last year. Chandler is currently projected to be drafted at the end of the first round by Vecenie and Givony.
Blake Wesley, Notre Dame
Wildcard time! Ever heard of the term “pre-draft” candidate? Vecenie explains:
“a concept where teams try to persuade players to come out a year before they’re realistically ready and at the highest point of their stock in order to get a higher-upside swing value-wise on their pick — hoping to get a discount on a valuable player.”
Blake Wesley reminds me of Josh Primo in a pre-draft way. Primo is the Alabama guard who stayed in the 2021 draft despite lower 1st round projections. Then we found out why he stayed in. The Spurs surprised us when they grabbed Primo with the 12th pick, taking a swing on one of the youngest players in the draft a year before his draft stock could rise beyond their reach.
Wesley is listed as a shooting guard by some, a PG/SG by others. The Fighting Irish freshman won me over thanks to his highlights which I dove in on after Vecenie hooked me with “there might not be a better half-court creator within this freshman class, as he’s electric with a tight handle and three-level potential scoring.” Sure, he started on fire and has come back to earth shooting 33% from 3. He’s young and raw and still developing.
BUT THOSE HIGHLIGHTS made him look like a young Caris LeVert. Diving into the numbers, both LeVert and Primo shot significantly better than Wesley has so far in his freshman season. It’ll be interesting to see how he finishes the season. He’s absolutely not a traditional PG but often serves as a primary ball handler for the Golden Domers.
Mocks have him in the early to late 20’s right now. He’s a South Bend kid who went to ND. He’s going to get mocked to the Indiana Pacers (via Cleveland’s pick) a lot between now and the draft. This is a pick with 2023-24-25 in mind, not so much the 22 season. As I mentioned at the top, rookies aren’t often net positives.
Side Note: Turns out Bennedict Mathurin is the most like LeVert for those keeping score.
JD Davison, Alabama
Davison is a 19 year old frosh at Alabama. Haven’t seen him play. His numbers read like a guard with forward skills, a Bruce Brown impact. He averages 7.7 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 4.5 turnovers per 40 minutes. End of first, early 2nd round grades across the services.
The Wizards are overdue when it comes to adding youth at the guard positions. Is this the year they finally address their back court in a meaningful way via the draft? If so there aren’t a ton of great options in the lottery and there are teams with similar needs that could land just in front of our pick. There are plenty more prospects to cover between now and the draft. Can’t wait to see who pops when the NCAA lights get brighter in March.
Want to pitch ideas for future Rack to the Future articles? Hit me up at Jheiser3 (at) gmail.com