The NBA Draft is tomorrow! It’s one of the most important days in Wizards’ fandom every year so we want to make sure you’re full prepared.
If you haven’t paid much attention to the draft, here are the names to know with relevance to the Wizards at pick #8. For more detail on any of them, you can check out the deeper dive Kevin Broom and I did on the Bleav in Wizards podcast today.
Anthony Black, 6’6.75, guard, Arkansas, consensus ranking: 8
Stats per game: 12.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 2.1 steals, 3 turnovers, 45.3% FG, 30.1% 3PT, 70.5% FT
Case for: elite passer, can see over defenses, good driver, underrated athlete (39-inch vertical), multi-positional defensive versatility, strong defensive instincts, shot looks better than the percentages would indicate, played without spacing all year and would look better in an up-tempo attack surrounded by shooters, can see over the defense at his height
Case against: not overly long, can he shoot it well enough to capitalize on his other skills?
Summary: He’s not mocked to the Wizards in pretty much every major mock draft by accident. His two (secret?) workouts with the Wizards seem to confirm he fits the profile the new front office seems to like.
Jarace Walker, 6’7.5, forward, Houston, consensus: 5
Stats: 11.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.3 blocks, 1 steals, 46.5% FG, 34.7% 3PT, 66.2% FT
Case for: mobile big, good rebounder, underrated passer, solid handle, grab-and-go potential, physical build, strong as a freshman
Case for: shooting potential is still questionable, is he a bit undersized?
Summary: There’s a reasonable chance that he goes higher than this but given that he also worked out for the team this week, it’s pretty likely he’s high on their radar if available.
Cason Wallace, 6’3.5, guard, Kentucky, consensus: 12
Stats: 11.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 2 steals, 34.6% 3PT, 75.7% FT
Case for: elite perimeter defender, tough, nose for the ball, elite length, solid playmaker, solid shooter
Case against: if he can’t run the offense is he just an undersized 3&D wing? is the shooting jump from high school to college real?
Summary: Fans and media believe in the Kentucky-to-NBA bump, but do teams? The Wizards attended his pro day and had him in for a workout and there seems to be real interest there. He’s likely in play if several others are off the board or they move back via trade.
Kobe Bufkin, 6’5.25, guard, Michigan, consensus: 13
Stats: 14 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.3 steals, 35.5% 3PT, 84.9% FT
Case for: a solid blend of size, shooting, playmaking, and defense. Given the success the Heat just had mostly rolling out guys who could do at least three of those four things, I could see a team wanting Bufkin for those reasons. Michigan was typically better with him on the floor (whereas it was better with Jett off)
Case against: probably a safe floor but maybe not the highest ceiling, if Michigan had two first-round picks, why did they struggle so much this year? Was his late season surge actually a sign of development or just someone filling the void on a team where other players may have been checked out?
Summary: Where there’s smoke there’s usually fire. I have heard from a few reputable people that his recent rise is legitimate and teams in this range actually are considering him. Will one of them being willing to ultimately pull the trigger and go against consensus in the top 10? We shall see! I don't see the All-Star upside with him that some of the others in this range have but seems like a safe bet to say his floor is something like a solid third guard.
Cam Whitmore, 6’6.75, wing, Villanova, consensus: 6
Stats: 12.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, .7 assists, .3 blocks, 1.4 steals, 1.6 turnovers, 1.7 fouls, 26 games, 27.3 minutes. 47.8% FG, 34.3% 3PT (4.2 attempts), 70.3% FT
Case for: powerful athlete, great finisher, great cutter, multi-positional defensive versatility, shown some potential with his step-back three-point shot, good straight-line driver, can finish with both hands, transition threat from Day 1, shot 40% on catch-and-shoot threes, was productive despite limited playmaking and spacing on the Villanova team
Case against: jumpshot is still questionable as he needs time and space to get it off, questionable passer, loose handle at times, decision-making has to improve, appears to get tunnel vision at times
Summary: By all accounts, he will be gone by 8. But crazier things have happened on draft night and I think it’s a no-brainer they would at least strongly consider him if he’s still available when they pick
Taylor Hendricks, 6’9.25, forward, Central Florida, consensus: 9
Stats: 15.1 points, 7 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.7 blocks, .9 steals, 47.8% FG, 39.4% 3PT. 78.2% FT
Case for: potential to be both a switchable perimeter defender and a rim-protector, already a strong help-defender, translatable jumpshot, solid handle for a frontcourt player
Case against: limited passing displays, feel for the game is a work in progress, shot selection, handle needs to improve to play more on the perimeter
Summary: Based on what I’ve heard and seen over the last few days, the Pacers at 7 is a real possibility. I’ve been trying to find out if he’s worked out for the Wizards but all I’ve been able to gather is that he worked out for “6 teams in this range.” It seems reasonable that the Wizards are one of those teams but that’s pure speculation.
Ausar Thompson, 6’6.75, wing, Overtime Elite, consensus: 7
Stats: 16.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 1.3 blocks, 2.7 steals, 30% 3PT, 67.1% FT
Case for: insane athlete, great defensive instincts and potential, shown some flashes of good playmaking potential, slightly better shooter than his brother
Case against: cannot shoot currently, demonstrated less playmaking chops than his brother, slightly built, did playing for OTE make him look better than he actually is?
Summary: He’s also projected to be off the board by 8 but someone typically falls in every draft and he does present some risk given the jumpshot issues
Bilal Coulibaly, 6’8, wing, Metropolitans 92, consensus: 14
Stats: 10.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.4 steals, 33.6% 3PT, 70.5% FT
Case for: great athlete, long, fluid mover, ideal frame for a modern wing, dominated against lower-level competition and showed marked improvement against higher-level competition over the course of the season, shot looked pretty clean it just needs to be sped up some, potentially highest upside of anyone outside the top 5
Case against: limited sample size of production against high-level competition, questionable feel for the game at this point shot needs to be sped up, how quickly can he put it all together, how real / warranted is this late season hype?
Summary: I wouldn’t rule it out if everyone else they like is off the board already but I’m not sure a brand-new front office wants its first meaningful pick to be so high-risk high-reward. As a Twitter GM, I think I would strongly consider it. We’ll see if some real GM is willing to roll the dice a little
If you’re looking for Wizards-specific coverage on draft night, myself, Kevin, and Domo from the Wizards of Gallery Place podcast will be hosting a live draft show running in parallel with the actual broadcast.
On 6/22, #NBADraft night, we will be hosting a livestream of #Wizards specific coverage feat. @Domo8186 & @so_wizards. Anyone that would like to advertise or promote something during can do so in return for a donation to @MissingKids or donate just because https://t.co/ZYcOdtX4mk— Matt Modderno (@MattModderno) June 12, 2023
We’ll be providing real-time analysis as it relates to the Wizards, as an alternative to the more general draft coverage you can get elsewhere. We will be starting at 8 p.m. EST and the show can be livestreamed from the Bleav in Wizards Twitter account (@BleavinWizards) and YouTube page.
We’re doing this as a way to raise money for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. If you’d like to contribute to a great cause, you can do so here.