Washington

Modern big men are available in 2020 draft, if Wizards want one

Washington

In the latest example of why Draymond Green is going to be a great NBA analyst someday, he sparked a conversation over the weekend with a tweet about the Lakers vs. Rockets series that has continued nationally through several days.

Green pointed out how the Rockets going extra small against a Lakers team that has a large frontcourt with Anthony Davis, Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee could speak volumes about the future of the center position.

Here's what Green tweeted:

Now, he was probably directing that more towards Howard and McGee, as Davis is more of a power forward and is still one of the best players in the game, no matter what position he plays. And some might argue Green is biased based on the fact he has played center for the Warriors before at just 6-foot-6 and in doing so has embodied the small-ball trend of this era.

But he's also mostly right if you consider the way the league has gone since Howard was drafted in 2004. Centers are shorter, faster and often can shoot from the outside. Some can even beat you off the dribble. 

The question Green indirectly raises is how far will it go? The Rockets are an extreme example where they start an entire lineup at 6-foot-7 or shorter with Robert Covington as their center. 

The league may never fully adapt to what the Rockets are doing, but the trends of the position are obvious. And as Green reminds everyone of that, it's fair to look at other teams around the league and wonder if they are keeping up with the times.

 

Like, the Wizards who have spent the last few years trying to modernize their frontcourt in part by acquiring and re-signing Thomas Bryant, who can shoot and run the floor better than his predecessors in town. Rui Hachimura could also soon profile as a modern four, or even as a five in small-ball sets.

But the best way the Wizards could align with Green's theory is probably through the draft and this year there are two players who fit the mold who will likely be picked in their range. Onyeka Okongwu of USC and Precious Achiuwa of Memphis would be the ones.

Okongwu may not be there at No. 9, where the Wizards will select in the first round. But if he is on the board, he would make a lot of sense both in terms of roster needs and where the league is going. He's a versatile defender who can block shots at 6-foot-9 and has the mobility to defend the pick-and-roll.

Achiuwa is likely to be available when the Wizards are on the clock and is a similar player to Okongwu, just not as NBA-ready. He can rebound, run baseline to baseline and is a decent rim protector, all at 6-foot-9.

Both Okongwu and Achiuwa could fit the mold defensively and in terms of size. But offensively, neither have an outside shot at this point. In order to truly represent the future of the big man position, developing some range would help.

The Wizards have other needs they could address with their No. 9 pick. They could go with a wing defender or add to their backcourt depth.

But Green's comments are a reminder of the direction the league is going and the Wizards may be in a good position to fall in line through this year's draft.