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Draft Expert Rafael Barlowe weighs in on the Wizards’ ideal targets and recent draft history

Barlowe runs NBA Big Board and hosts the Locked On NBA Big Board podcast.

NCAA Basketball: Arkansas at Kentucky
Anthony Black drives on Cason Wallace
Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

If the NBA season ended today, the Wizards would have the 6th best odds in the NBA Draft Lottery. Rafael Barlowe of NBA Big Board, Locked on NBA Big Board podcast, and NBA Draft Junkies joined me yesterday on the Bleav in Wizards podcast to discuss all things 2023 NBA Draft.

We covered the prospects who seem most commonly projected to the Wizards in the late lottery, including Arkansas freshman Anthony Black, Baylor freshman Keyonte George, and Kentucky freshman Cason Wallace. Barlowe thinks George is the most talented of the three but Wallace might be the best fit of those options given his ability to play both on and off the ball and his high-level defense.

NCAA Basketball: Arkansas at Baylor
Keyonte George driving on Anthony Black
Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

We also discussed likely late lottery picks who might be ideally suited to fit around the Wizards’ current core. Barlowe made the case for Arkansas’ freshman guard Nick Smith Jr., who I also like. He also provided some insight about his draft status considering he’s missed most of the season with a knee injury.

I made an argument for why I think Houston’s freshman forward Jarace Walker might actually be the ideally suited front-court partner for Kristaps Porzingis. Walker is a mobile, switchable big who likes to be physical and do the dirty work. Barlowe was able to provide some additional context around Walker’s season so far and how he’s been coming on strong lately.

Given that the Wizards have to give their pick to the Knicks if it falls outside the lottery, I could see a world where they trade back in later in the draft. Many fans, myself included, call out the Wizards’ lack of a prototypical 3-and-D wing.

With those ideas in mind, I asked Barlowe to weigh in on several wings who are likely to go in the back half of the first round. We spent time on Michigan freshman Jett Howard (Juwan’s son), Pepperdine sophomore Maxwell Lewis, Kansas freshman Gradey Dick, Ohio State freshman Brice Sensabaugh, and Iowa junior Kris Murray (Keegan’s twin). We both felt Lewis’ physical tools given him the highest upside but Murray is the most well-rounded currently.

Kris Murray contesting Jett Howard
Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Barlowe also provided his perspective on players he currently has mocked in the second round, including Arkansas forward Trevon Brazile, Kansas State forward Nae’Qwan Tomlin, and Eastern Michigan wing Emoni Bates. I’m higher than the consensus on Brazile and Tomlin so it was interesting to hear Barlowe weigh in on them.

The main takeaway for Bates is that there is no consensus and his stock is all over the place. He likely has the widest range of anyone in the draft given his high school pedigree compared with his struggles in college.

We also talked about the Wizards’ overall draft philosophy, what they prioritize, their recent picks, and whether they have “a type” they look for. We closed the show by addressing what to make of Johnny Davis’ play so far. Barlowe and I watched Davis at NBA Summer League together so I really wanted to hear his updated stance on why he’s been struggling so much.

Barlowe made a comparison to a prominent player who was able to work himself into the rotation after spending his first few seasons on the bench as an example of why it’s not worth giving up on players too early. It seems like a pretty safe bet that this will essentially be a “redshirt” year for Davis but it was a nice reminder that some guys do come on more slowly than others.

Windy City Bulls v Capital City GoGo
Johnny Davis driving against the Windy City Bulls
Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images