The Washington Wizards will host six players for workouts on Tuesday at their practice facility in Congress Heights. Here are the players expected to participate:
- Phlandrous Fleming Jr., 6-5 guard, Florida
- Jaden Hardy, 6-4 guard, G League Ignite
- Anthony Polite, 6-6 guard, Florida State
- Taz Sherman, 6-4 guard, West Virginia
- Collin Welp, 6-9 forward UC Irvine
- Isaiah Whaley, 6-9 forward, Connecticut
Hardy, a projected first-round pick, is the only participate in this workout likely to hear his name called on draft night. According to Rookie Scale’s Consensus Mock Draft, Hardy is projected to go 22nd. None of the others appear in the top 100.
Based on that, taking Hardy with the 10th pick would be seen as a reach by Tommy Sheppard and the Wizards. Sheppard showed he’s willing to just take the player he wants regardless of popular consensus when he took Rui Hachimura at 9, despite most analysts having him in the early 20s. This would not be a significant departure from that.
On this week’s Bleav in Wizards podcast, we provided in-depth analysis of the players the Wizards brought in for workouts last week. We also discussed how several members of the Wizards’ scouting department have referenced their willingness to ignore a player’s shooting statistics if they believed they would work hard enough to correct them.
This could be particularly relevant to Hardy, who struggled shooting the ball, especially early in the season. In 12 games in the G League Showcase Cup, Hardy hit 40.2% of his two-point field goals and 26.9% of his three-pointers. He did shoot 88.2% from the free-throw line, however. During their 12 additional exhibition games, Hardy 44.1% from two and 35.3% from three but his free-throws dipped to 73.3%.
In an interview with Chris Miller, Wizards VP of College Personnel Frank Ross talked about how they valued players’ production. In 24 G League games, Hardy averaged 19.8 points, 4.38 rebounds, and 3.46 assists. I would imagine they consider that valuable production considering he was a 19-year-old competing against grown men.
Wizards’ executives were all likely in attendance for the G League Ignite’s January 28th game against the Capital City Go-Go. In that game, Hardy recorded 31 points, 3 rebounds, 9 assists, and 5 turnovers. He shot 13-19 from the field, 4-7 from three, and 1-3 from the free-throw line.
I was also there in person and was both impressed by his shot-making and equally unimpressed by his total apathy on the defensive end. His performance looked like the G League equivalent of Bradley Beal: a lot of scoring, some playmaking, loose with the ball at times, and little defense. But anyone drafting Hardy is doing so for his scoring, similar to the role Cam Thomas played for the Brooklyn Nets this year.