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Our Top 45 Wizards NBA Draft prospects

These rankings break from consensus and represent my personal feeling on each of these prospects based on extensive film study.

Salt Lake City Stars v G League Ignite
Dyson Daniels and MarJon Beauchamp celebrate together
Photo by Jeff Bottari/NBAE via Getty Images

I love college basketball, I love the NBA Draft, and I like to travel. My dream job would be a minimum wage job in the Wizards’ scouting department. Or whatever passes for minimum wage in the NBA, which I hope is not actual minimum wage given how much money teams make. Unless Tommy Sheppard is in the market for a scout who can compare draft prospects to the original 151 Pokemon, that dream job seems likely to stay a dream.

Continuing with the assumption that the Wizards won’t have any openings in the war room on draft night, I figured I might as well put all of the time spent watching prospects throughout the year to good use by putting together my personal big board. I tried to give a very high-level overview of why I like these prospects and why I put them where I did. It’s hard to tell the full story in just a few sentences so check out today’s Bleav in Wizards podcast if you want to hear more of my rationale. Osman Baig and I did a mock draft for the lottery of what we think could happen and one of what we’d do if we were picking for those teams.

There are at least several examples I can think of where I strayed significantly from the consensus but every year the consensus is wrong plenty of times. I’ll be willing to own it if I totally miss on some of these players because that just comes with the player evaluation territory.

Unless a player had some truly elite skill on one side of the ball, I tended to prioritize two-way potential. And when in doubt, I prioritized wings because I think teams can never have enough good wings and the good ones rarely tend to hit the free agent market.

Feel free to tell me which one’s I’ve gotten terribly wrong and we can look back at the comments section in a few years and have a good laugh together at how wrong we all were. With all of that in mind, let’s get to the rankings!

1) Paolo Banchero, 6-10.25, Duke, 19.6 years (age on draft night)

Why: The blend of size, skill, and offensive creation does not come around very often

North Carolina v Duke
Paolo Banchero during the Final Four
Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

2) Jabari Smith Jr., 6-10, Auburn, 19.1 years

Why: Tall, athletic, shoots at a high level, defends. Enough said

3) Chet Holmgren, 7-1.25, Gonzaga, 20.1 years

Why: I buy the defense and I buy the shooting. Guys always put on strength and weight once they get into the league

4) Shaedon Sharpe, 6-5.25, Kentucky (sort-of), 19.1 years

Why: He’s a Pogo Stick with a jumpshot. Sign me up for that

5) Bennedict Mathurin, 6-6, Arizona, 20 years

Why: A high-level athlete who shoots it well and plays with an edge is my kind of guy

Arizona v UCLA
Mathurin shooting over Johnny Juzang
Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

6) Dyson Daniels, 6-7.5, G League Ignite, 19.3 years

Why: A Swiss Army knife and a big facilitator who takes pride in defense

7) Keegan Murray, 6-8, Iowa, 21.8 years

Why: Just super solid on both sides of the ball and has a pretty high floor

8) Jaden Ivey, 6-4, Purdue, 20.4 years

Why: Springy athlete who is hard to stop with a head of steam, shot it pretty well from 3 this year, defense and playmaking are still TBD, no in-between game currently

9) MarJon Beauchamp, 6-6.5, G League Ignite, 21.7 years

Why: I think he could be the best perimeter defender in the draft, great cutter, finds ways to impact the game even when he isn’t scoring, jumpshot needs refinement but I think it’ll get better once he adjusts to the NBA line more. If he was the next Jimmy Butler I would not be shocked. Also, worth noting that Beauchamp opted to skip college and spent a full season working with Frank Matrisciano, a former Marine turned NBA trainer that Gilbert Arenas credits with turning him into the elite player he became.

G League Ignite v Iowa Wolves
Beauchamp dunking for the Ignite
Photo by Jasey Michelle Bradwell/NBAE via Getty Images

10) Ousmane Dieng, 6-9.75, New Zealand Breakers, 19.1 years

Why: 6-10 shot-creators who can handle, pass, and have defensive potential are rare. He was really bad (like historically bad) his 1st 10 games this year but was very impressive the last 13 games (really interesting to hear about him getting settled and finding ways to get in the gym more and how that helped him get comfortable). I’m buying into the second half of the season

11) Kendall Brown, 6-7.5, Baylor, 19.1 years

Why: Probably the best athlete in the draft, elite defensive potential, good connector offensively, shot a higher percentage than his teammate Jeremy Sochan, and shot well in combine shooting drills

12) Jalen Williams, 6-5.75, Santa Clara, 21.2 years

Why: He’s got point guard skills in a wing’s body. I’m a bit skeptical because he doesn’t always make the best use of his physical abilities but if you can imagine him playing on-ball full-time then he becomes intriguing enough to put in the lottery range

13) Malaki Branham, 6-5.5, Ohio State, 19.1 years

Why: He gets buckets, son. Plus, he has a big wingspan and odds are he probably turns into at least a league average defender. If not, you have a good bench scorer with good size

14) Johnny Davis, 6-5.75, Wisconsin, 20.3 years

Why: I actually think Davis will outplay his spot on this ranking but if I were Tommy Sheppard a shooting guard who hasn’t proven he can shoot wouldn’t the type of thing I’d prioritize. He’s a safe enough pick because I think he’s a better creator than he gets credit for and he will work on the defensive end but the upside is lower to me than many of the guys I have above him

15) EJ Liddell, 6-7. Ohio State, 21.5 years

Why: This player archetype just seems really valuable after watching this year’s playoffs. He’s a small-ball 4 who can hit shots, punish mismatches, and rim protect from the weakside

Ohio State v Maryland
Liddell blocking a shot against Maryland
Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images

16) Kennedy Chandler, 6-0.5, Tennessee, 19.8 years

Why: If he were 6-3 he would be a guaranteed lottery pick. I normally don’t buy in on small guards like this but he’s got the athleticism and wingspan to overcome the height

17) Mark Williams, 7-2, Duke, 20.5 years

Why: Picture Daniel Gafford but 4 inches taller. He could be a real floor-raiser, especially during the regular season

18) AJ Griffin, 6-6, Duke, 18.8 years

Why: The injury history (a dislocated knee just scares me) has me lower on him as a prospect than most. He looked noticeably less athletic this season than his high school tape and that probably contributed to his poor showing on the defensive end. The jumpshot form also makes me a little nervous but I think worst case scenario he’s slightly shiftier Reggie Bullock

19) Tari Eason, 6-8, LSU, 21.1 years

Why: He has elite physical tools but I question his feel for the game and I can’t say I totally buy into his perimeter defense because we didn’t see a ton of that from him at LSU. I see him more as rim-protecting 4 than I do a wing, which lowers him a bit in these rankings.

20) Jake LaRavia, 6-8 Wake Forest, 20.6 years

Why: He shoots, he passes, he rebounds, he’s a smart defender. Teams could use all of those things

NCAA Basketball: Wake Forest at Clemson
LaRavia shooting against Clemson
Dawson Powers-USA TODAY Sports

21) Nikola Jovic, 6-11, Mega Basket, 19 years

Why: He’s a tough shot taker right now but I buy into him eventually being a tough shot maker. The playmaking is underrated for someone his size as well

22) Jalen Duren, 6-11, Memphis, 18.6 years

Why: Maybe it was their total lack of offensive structure or the lack of a playmaker to set him up to be successful but I just didn’t see anything on the offensive end that would give me much hope he can expand his game. I also don’t think he’s as big as he’s listed (he didn’t measure at the combine) so if he’s really a 6-9 rim-protecting lob-threat then he’s still valuable but I’d rather take the 7-2 guy in Mark Williams

23) Ochai Agbaji, 6-5.75, Kansas, 22.2 years

Why: I think he’ll shoot, slash, and defend at a reasonable enough level to hang around in the league. He has physical gifts but doesn’t make the best use of them in-game. I don’t see him ever being anything more than a role player, which is fine, but that’s why I have him a little lower than some.

24) Wendell Moore Jr., 6-5.5, Duke, 20.9 years

Why: I just see him having a nice career as a Josh Hart-esque player because he can score but also facilitate for others

25) Dalen Terry, 6-7.25, Arizona, 19.9 years

Why: A 6-7 playmaker is really exciting but he’s still pretty raw and a little older than people seem to acknowledge. It would not shock me if he ended up really good but taking him closer to the lottery would represent a pretty big risk to me

26) Christian Braun, 6-7, Kansas, 21.2 years

Why: I’ve heard a couple anecdotes about him being a huge trash-talker but having such a thick country accent that not everyone can understand him. That alone gets you a first-round grade in my book. In all seriousness, he shoots, he’s good in transition, and he’s tenacious on defense.

27) Christian Koloko, 7-0, Arizona, 22 years

Why: I actually like him more than Duren right now because I buy his jumpshot but being 3+ years older has to factor into the ranking

NCAA Basketball: Arizona at Utah
Koloko defending the rim against Utah
Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

28) Ryan Rollins, 6-3.25, Toledo, 20 years

Why: Shifty combo guard is great off the dribble and from the mid-range. I buy the shooting and secondary playmaking long-term

29) TyTy Washington, 6-3.75, Kentucky, 20.6 years

Why: I just keep rewatching his best games of the season and I still don’t really get it. I think context has a lot to do with that and they shoehorned him off the ball next to Wheeler. But I also don’t fully buy the shooting and if you’re not a great athlete or super quick then you probably have to shoot at a high level to become an NBA starter. I fully acknowledge that he will likely end up a multi-time All-Star because I’m putting him so low but I just can’t bring myself to move him up

30) Blake Wesley, 6-4.25, Notre Dame, 19.3 years

Why: He looks like the ideal point guard from a size and length standpoint but doesn’t play like one yet. If he improves as a shooter, slasher, and/or defender then he could be really good. I’m just not totally sold on whether or not he will definitely take a big jump in any of those areas

31) Jeremy Sochan, 6-9, Baylor, 19.1 years

Why: It’s really hard to be a one-dimensional player and contribute meaningful minutes in a playoff setting and I’m not sure he’ll ever bring enough offense to offset things unless the defense is absolutely elite. He was a really good college defender but he’s not super big, he’s not super strong, and he’s not super athletic. I’m sure he could be a good defender but I don’t know if I see a great one.

32) Justin Lewis, 6-7.5, Marquette, 20.2 years

Why: I’m sort of irrationally high on him based on what he could be. He has the potential to be an inside-outside threat who rebounds, defends, and plays with energy. There’s just something about Lewis I can’t fully articulate

33) Andrew Nembhard, 6-4.5, Gonzaga, 22.4 years

Why: A big, solid point guard who knows how to run a team but can also score if needed

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament West Regional-Arkansas vs Gonzaga
Nembhard in transition
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

34) Jaden Hardy, 6-4, G League Ignite, 20 years

Why: I used to overvalue undersized volume scorers so maybe now I’m going too far the other way but the efficiency and shooting percentages from this year scare me. It just seems like this is the easiest player archetype to draft every year

35) Dereon Seabron, 6-5.25, NC State, 22.1 years

Why: He has real grab-and-go potential because he’s a good transition playmaker and a good rebounder for his size. I think he can drive, slash, and create for others. The shooting is a concern though

36) Walker Kessler, 7-1, Auburn, 20.9 years

Why: He’s big enough to block out the sun or at least block the sun’s shot. He was one of my favorite guys to watch this past season but he’s pretty slow-footed and looks like another drop coverage big

37) Vince Williams Jr., 6-5.5, VCU, 21.8 years

Why: I truly don’t understand why a guy who shoots, passes, and defends from the wing is so low on many other boards

38) John Butler Jr., 7-0.75, Florida State, 19.6 years

Why: Picture a 7-0 guard with actual guard skills who can protect the rim. Yes, he’s probably 180 pounds soaking wet but he’s going to bulk up enough to give himself a chance. He’s just so weird and intriguing that by this point in the draft I’d be inclined to give him a shot

NCAA Basketball: Florida State at North Carolina
Butler blocking Armando Bacot of UNC
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

39) Aminu Mohammed, 6-5, Georgetown, 20.6 years

Why: He gives me Lu Dort vibes as an uber-productive freshman guard who falls on draft night because people focus on what he can’t do

40) JD Davison, 6-2.5, Alabama, 19.7 years

Why: He’s a crazy athlete who makes some special passes sometimes. Why not see if he figures the rest out?

41) Michael Foster Jr., 6-9.25, G League Ignite, 19.4 years

Why: He was really good when I saw him in person this year and I can’t shake that. He’s skilled and pretty athletic for his size. Plus, he’s pretty young and put up decent stats against grown men

42) Tevin Brown, 6-4.75, Murray State, 23.7 years

Why: Yes, he’s old but he can shoot (off movement too) and create for others. In the 40s, that’s worth a shot

43) David Roddy, 6-6, Colorado State, 21.2 years

Why: He’s very versatile on offense but can he guard well enough to stay on the floor? Worth finding out a certain point in the draft. And he’s just a fun guy to root for

44) Trevion Williams, 6-8.75, Purdue, 21.8 years

Why: Smart, energetic, can create for others out of the high post, and he’s a pretty good athlete for his size

45) Scotty Pippen Jr., 6-1.5, Vanderbilt, 21.6 years

Why: He was a big-time scorer in college but I think he has really good vision and his skills at a point guard haven’t really been tapped yet. Vanderbilt runs an advanced NBA offense so I think he will have a shorter learning curve than his peers

NCAA Basketball: Texas A&M at Vanderbilt
Pippen Jr. with a crafty below-the-rim finish
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports