According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Wizards are signing Xavier Cooks, a forward for the Syndey Kings of Australia’s National Basketball League (NBL). Cooks, a 6-8 forward, was named MVP of the NBL this season and was Finals MVP last season. He also made the league’s All-NBL Second Team for 2021-2022.
The Washington Wizards are signing Sydney Kings forward Xavier Cooks – MVP of the National Basketball League in Australia -- to a deal through the 2023-2024 season, his agent Daniel Moldovan of Octagon Sports tells ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 5, 2023
The deal is reportedly for the remainder of this season and next season. Per ESPN’s reporting, Cooks will join the Wizards when the Kings finish competing in the NBL’s Finals. The best-of-five Finals is currently tied 1-1 which means Cooks will be free to come over in the next week or two.
In 30 regular season games this year, Cooks has averaged 15.8 points, 7.9 rebounds, 3.9 assists, .6 steals, and .6 blocks. He’s made 57.7% of his field goals and 32.1% of his threes (less than one attempt per game).
He previously spent four seasons playing college basketball for Winthrop University. In his senior season, Cooks averaged 17.2 points, 8.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1 steal, and 2.1 blocks. He shot 50.4% from the field and 31.8% from three on 2.2 attempts per game.
Cooks made 39.4% of his 3.1 three-point attempts per game as a sophomore and 34.9% of his 3.3 attempts as a junior so he does have some track record as a respectable three-point shooter. However, his career 69% from the free throw line is less encouraging.
From what I’ve seen, Cooks appears best suited as a switchable small-ball 5 in the NBA. He’s very athletic with good lateral quickness but does most of his damage offensively around the basket. I picture him playing a Brandon Clarke-type role if he’s able to crack the rotation.
For a deeper dive into Cooks’ game, I will be having Jacob Doole of The Pick and Roll, an authority on Australian hoops, on Tuesday’s Bleav in Wizards Podcast. On yesterday’s episode, we went into detail on the Jay Huff and Jamaree Bouyea signings.