Washington

5 best rebounders in the 2020 NBA Draft class

Washington

The Wizards' most glaring problem in the 2019-20 season was their defense and part of that was their inability to rebound. When you force a miss on defense, it isn't a stop until you get the rebound. The Wizards far too often did not get that rebound.

In fact, they ranked 28th in defensive rebounding, 28th in total rebounds and dead-last in rebounding percentage. Maybe if they fixed their rebounding, the defense would naturally improve. It certainly couldn't hurt.

With that in mind, here are the five best rebounders in this year's draft class...

1. Precious Achiuwa, F/C, Memphis

  • Age: 21
  • Height: 6-9
  • Weight: 225
  • Wingspan: 7-2
  • 2019/20 stats: 31 G, 30.4 mpg, 15.8 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 1.0 apg, 1.1 spg, 1.9 bpg, 49.3 FG% (5.9/11.9), 32.5 3PT% (0.4/1.3), 59.9 FT%

Achiuwa may not be the best big man overall in this class, but he is arguably the best rebounder and the safest bet to find success in that area at the next level. At 6-foot-9, he is strong and quick with a motor to match. Even if Achiuwa is never an NBA All-Star, he's probably going to rebound well for a long time.

Achiuwa may also be the most realistic option for the Wizards if they choose to target rebounding with the No. 9 pick. If James Wiseman and Onyeka Okongwu are off the board, Achiuwa will likely be there and the Wizards could definitely justify taking him at ninth. If they did, he would fit in nicely alongside Rui Hachimura and Thomas Bryant as he helps shore up their weaknesses on defense.

2. James Wiseman, C, Memphis

  • Age: 19
  • Height: 7-1
  • Weight: 240
  • Wingspan: 7-6
  • 2019/20 stats: 3 G, 19.7 ppg, 10.7 rpg, 0.3 apg, 0.3 spg, 3.0 bpg, 76.9 FG% (6.7/8.7), 00.0 3PT% (0.0/0.3), 70.4 FT%

Wiseman only played three games in college due to a recruiting scandal, but he showed in a small sample size he is a uniquely gifted rebounder. At 7-foot-1 with an explosive vertical leap and natural instincts to match, Wiseman devoured the glass, pulling in 10.7 rebounds in just 22.3 minutes per game. That breaks out to a ridiculous 25.4 rebounds per 100 possessions.

 

Wiseman is pretty much a certainty to be off the board by the time the Wizards are picking at No. 9. He could go as high as the No. 1 pick and, as much as people have poked through his red flags, he is still probably the best athlete in the entire draft. Wiseman could at a minimum be a very good rim protector, rebounder and rim runner, and he has unicorn upside. If the Wizards want him, they will probably have to trade up.

3. Jalen Smith, PF/C, Maryland

  • Age: 20
  • Height: 6-10
  • Weight: 225
  • Wingspan: 7-1
  • 2019/20 stats: 31 G, 31.3 mpg, 15.5 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 0.8 apg, 0.7 spg, 2.4 bpg, 53.8 FG% (5.4/10.1), 36.8 3PT% (1.0/2.8), 75.0 FT% 

Smith has been rising up mock drafts recently and maybe because evaluators are simply taking a second look at his numbers, which are some of the most impressive in this year's draft. Smith was a double-double machine, blocked shots and shot fairly consistently from three at Maryland. He's an athletic and smart player who does a lot of things well.

Smith would in many ways be a great fit for the Wizards, but he seems likely to fall outside of the range of both of their draft picks. He won't be the best player on the board at No. 9 and is probably not going to be there at 37. The Wizards have seen plenty of Smith, as he played nearby in College Park, and they have interviewed him during the pre-draft process, as NBC Sports Washington reported. But you have to wonder if he will follow the same track as Moe Wagner, whom the Wizards liked but couldn't justify taking with their first-round pick. Maybe if they miss out on Smith in the draft, they can trade for him someday like they did with Wagner.

4. Daniel Oturu, C, Minnesota

  • Age: 20
  • Height: 6-10
  • Weight: 240
  • Wingspan: 7-2
  • 2019/20 stats: 31 G, 33.9 mpg, 20.1 ppg, 11.3 rpg, 1.1 apg, 0.5 spg, 2.5 bpg, 56.3 FG% (7.7/13.6), 36.5 3PT% (0.6/1.7), 70.7 FT% 

Oturu averaged more rebounds than anyone projected to be drafted this year with 11.3 per game, which ranked eighth in all of college basketball. Oturu put up some truly wild numbers cleaning the glass. He grabbed 15-plus boards seven times this season, including 20 in a December game against Florida International.

Oturu is expected to be a second-round pick with some mock drafts factoring in a possible slide into the late first round. He doesn't have the explosive athleticism or developed perimeter game of the top bigs in this class, but Oturu's overall numbers are hard to argue with. He gets a lot of blocks and has an improving three-point shot. Maybe he ends up being a longtime bench player in the NBA, but he could be good in his role.

5. Udoka Azubuike, C, Kansas

  • Age: 20
  • Height: 7-0
  • Weight: 270
  • Wingspan: 7-7
  • 2019/20 stats: 31 G, 27.7 mpg, 13.7 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 0.9 apg, 0.5 spg, 2.6 bpg, 74.8 FG% (5.8/7.8), 00.0 3PT% (0.0/0.0), 44.1 FT% 

Azubuike was 10th in the country this season in rebounding percentage with only Austin Wiley of Auburn ranking higher among likely draft picks. A four-year player at Kansas, Azubuike was one of the best overall players in college basketball, finishing his senior year as the Big 12 player of the year and with All-American honors. He is a big-time rebounder and shot-blocker whose game is centered in the paint.

 

As good as he was in college, Azubuike is a likely second-round pick due to his style of game. He didn't attempt a single three in his four years with the Jayhawks and was a 41.6 percent free throw shooter (!). Azubuike is unlikely to ever be a reliable scorer in the NBA, but for a team looking for rebounding and defense in the second round, he may make sense. For the Wizards, that probably doesn't mean 37th overall pick maybe if they bought or traded for a later pick, they could justify taking him.