As I wrote about last week, Richard Stayman, one of the hosts of the Locked On NBA Draft podcast and founder of Mavsdraft.com, organizes a series of mock drafts where each team has its own “general manager” to make the selections. All GMs cover their respective teams so that they can make the picks based on intimate knowledge of the teams and their needs.
I represented the Wizards and tried my best to make the picks based on the direction I think the team should go. With the NBA Lottery order still to be determined, we drafted based on current lottery odds. That means the Wizards held the 10th and 56th picks.
By the time the Wizards were up at #10, Chet Holmgren, Paolo Banchero, Jabari Smith, Jalen Duren, Jaden Ivey, Jeremy Sochan, Bennedict Mathurin, Shaedon Sharpe, and Dyson Daniels had already been selected.
Personally, I don’t expect Jalen Duren to go ahead of Jaden Ivey but every year at least one team goes against expectation when making their pick. On a recent episode of Bleav in Wizards, we discussed all of Wizards’ draft picks this decade and it provided plenty of examples of them going against the grain. So for the sake of a mock draft, I think it actually ended up being a good way to see other possible outcomes for the Wizards.
As you can see from the picture above, I selected Iowa forward Keegan Murray. I don’t love the fit considering the glut of power forwards on the roster with Kyle Kuzma, Rui Hachimura, and Deni Avdija but Murray was the best player available at that point (by pretty much every major draft analyst’s prognostications). This team needs more talent across the board and Murray would also be an appealing trade target for other teams.
To me, Murray’s ceiling is like a bigger version of Utah’s Bojan Bogdanovic and his floor is like prime Channing Frye. I don’t think he’s the exact same type of player as Bogdanovic but I could see a similar role as a mobile four who can help with spacing but also expose smaller defenders.
Defensively, Bogdanovic isn’t the best athlete but he used positioning and basketball IQ to be one of the few guys who could match up with LeBron James for a few years when they were both in the Eastern Conference. I think Murray is another guy who could exceed the eye test and be a capable defender. That might not be the kind of upside a team wants with the 5th pick but you could do a lot worse with the 10th pick (and the Wizards certainly have).
With the 56th pick, I took Alabama freshman guard JD Davison. As my undrafted free agents, I added Mississippi State guard Iverson Molinar and Illinois center Kofi Cockburn. Molinar is from Panama and Cockburn is from Jamaica so that would give us the added benefit of two additional Heritage Nights!
Keegan Murray, 6-9, Iowa, sophomore, 21.8 years old on draft night
Statistics: 23.5 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.9 blocks, 1.3 steals, 39.8% 3P, 74.7% FT
Case for: instant floor-spacing forward, was good defensively, appears to have good length, can play on the perimeter or in the post depending on who covers him, has grab-and-go potential, doesn’t project as an elite defender but would offer positional versatility as he could cover some 3s and even some 5s, he was the D1 leader in win shares, projects as a “high-floor” NBA player
Case against: being almost 22 years old could slide him down some draft boards, not an elite athlete, passing needs work, needs to tighten his handle, might be hard for some to shake his NCAA tournament performance, might not have the same upside as other players likely to go in the top 8 or so picks
JD Davison, 6-3, Alabama, freshman, 19.7 years old on draft night
Statistics: 8.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 2.9 turnovers, 30.1% 3P shooting, 72.8% FT
Strengths: attacks the rim with reckless abandon, explosive athlete, good rebounder, made some special passes, creates for others, seems like a pick-and-roll nightmare for defenses, had 20 points / 5 rebounds / 3 assists in a win over Gonzaga, also helped seal their win against a ranked Houston team with a go-ahead dunk and game-saving block, reminds me of Jaden Ivey as a freshman,
Weaknesses: attacks the rim with reckless abandon, wild, shot selection, needs to refine jumpshot, forces passes at times, a long term project
Iverson Molinar, 6-3, Mississippi State, junior, 22.5 years old on draft night
Statistics: 17.5 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.2 steals, 25.2% 3P (43.6% as a sophomore on higher volume), 86.8% FT
Case for: microwave scorer, good athlete, 3P% was low this year but previous two seasons and his form give confidence he will be a good shooter long-term, solid passer, good defensive potential
Case against: gets sloppy and turnover-prone, was shot-happy at times (although his team needed him to be), apathetic defender at times, old by draft standards
Kofi Cockburn, 7-0, Illinois, junior, 22.8 years old on draft night
Statistics: 20.9 points, 10.6 rebounds, 1 block, 59.3% FG,
Case for: just a gigantic human, was unstoppable around the rim in college, big-time rebounder, won’t be bullied by the bigger centers in the NBA, seems ideally suited as a third center to come in and eat up minutes against bigger centers like Joel Embiid
Case against: slow, drop-coverage big only, old by draft standards, do teams want bigs who can’t shoot anymore?