The Washington Wizards owe their first-round pick to the New York Knicks in 2023 unless they are a lottery team again. The pick is top 14 protected in 2023, top 12 in 2024, top 10 in 2025, and top 8 in 2026. Beyond that, it conveys as second-round picks.
ESPN is predicting the Wizards will only win 34 games in 2023 which would likely make them a lottery team again. Several betting sites have set their early over/under on their wins at 34.5. Personally, I think they will be better than that, assuming they stay healthy.
But for the sake of thoroughness, it still seems prudent to keep an eye on noteworthy NBA Draft prospects throughout the season. With that in mind, Bryce Hendricks, a draft analyst from the Upside Swings podcast, joined the Bleav in Wizards podcast for an initial review of the marquee prospects likely to be drafted in or around the lottery this year.
Additionally, the Wizards have potentially valuable veteran players on expiring contracts in Kyle Kuzma and Will Barton. If they were to trade either player they could likely net at least a first-round pick in return. So even if the Wizards lose their own pick, they could potentially find themselves picking in the first round anyway.
During Tommy Sheppard’s tenure, he has routinely found his way back to players they rated highly in previous drafts when making free agency decisions. It’s been well-documented that they highly valued several players in 2018 that they were unable to draft and those players eventually found their way onto the Wizards’ roster. Considering how highly this year’s draft is being regarded, it’s very likely that there will be several highly valuable players that teams will want to keep their eyes on long-term.
Tankathon currently predicts the Wizards will pick 8th and have them drafting Overtime Elite guard-forward Amen Thompson with that pick. Thompson is a 6-7 hyper-athletic point-forward that Hendricks believes would be an absolute steal with the 8th pick. We spent several minutes discussing him and his twin brother Ausar on the podcast if you’re interested in learning more about him.
My personal favorite prospect so far is Nick Smith Jr. Smith Jr. is a 6-5 combo guard who is about to play his freshman season at Arkansas. Smith Jr. is an alum of Bradley Beal’s AAU program, Bradley Beal Elite, and is currently projected as a top 10 pick on most major mock drafts thus far. His game also seems tailor-made to play next to Beal and he reminds me of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.