Ideally, the Washington Wizards get lottery lucky.
There is the basketball and business dream only Zion Williamson's supernatural gifts could fill.
Murray State’ Ja Morant would provide an electric charge with the injured John Wall idling.
Those fantastical visions, while tangible, do not reflect reality.
Targeting North Carolina scoring dynamo Coby White with their projected slot does.
The 6-foot-5’s rise up draft boards began during the college basketball season. It continues even weeks after the Tar Heels’ campaign concluded.
“I like White a lot,” is what an NBA scout told NBC Sports Washington this week. The sentiment reflects an overwhelmingly positive view on the freshman from league-wide sources.
The Wizards, who enter the May 14 NBA Draft lottery with the sixth-best overall odds of landing the first selection, need to jump up for those Williamson and Morant. There is a 37.2 percent chance of landing a top-four selection. Simply having stronger asset capital would help the yet-to-be-determined general manager.
Landing White seems more and more like a viable fallback.
The all-time leading scorer among boy’s high school players in the state of North Carolina, White averaged 16.1 points, 4.1 assists and 3.5 rebounds in 35 games for the Tar Heels while shooting 35 percent from beyond the arc.
With his lead guard skills and size to play on the wing, there is a positional case that White is a better fit for the Wizards long-term than Morant. White could play alongside Bradley Beal and John Wall whenever the five-time All-Star returns from his Achilles injury.
The 6-foot-3, 175-pound Morant is strictly a point guard, but also the higher-projected talent. Passing on him, even with Wall’s presence, would be the wrong approach.
Duke guard R.J. Barrett joins Williamson and Morant as the consensus top three selections more than a month out from the June 20 NBA Draft. There is little agreement with prospects 4-8, though the draft lottery will certainly help shape the order. Based on the new draft lottery rules, the Wizards could pick 1-4 or 6-10 depending on how the ping-pong balls bounce.
Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver, Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter, Duke’s Cam Reddish, Vanderbilt’s Darius Garland and White typically make up the pool of players immediately outside the top three. White’s insurgent freshman campaign thrust him into the tier.
Maybe there becomes a point where White’s rising rank leads to some brush back. We’re not there yet.
*Texas’ Jaxson Hayes, Gonzaga’s Brandon Clarke, Oregon’s Bol Bol, and international prospect Sekou Doumbouya are the current best bets to enter the 4-8 discussion. Bol’s truncated freshman season factored into a diminished evaluation, but there’s a turnaround in play, a Western Conference scout told NBC Sports Washington even after out previous love-hate relationship article on the 7-foot-2 forward.
*Indiana shooting guard Romeo Langford entered the NBA Draft pool following his freshman season. The sense from scouts is he’s exiting lottery selection talk. One scout told NBA Sports Washington Langford is "dropping." Another said he would be flabbergasted if his organization considered the 6-foot-6 guard with a wonky jump shot in the top 10-14 selections. Langford averaged 16.5 points per game, but shot 28 percent on 3-pointers. Individual workouts and the upcoming NBA Combine offer chances to turn heads and momentum.
*Maryland sophomore Bruno Fernando officially kept his name in the NBA Draft pool this week. According to a source, the 6-foot-10 center signed with Priority Sports and Entertainment, the same agency that represents Wizards’ Bradley Beal and Jabari Parker. Fernando finished his Maryland career ranked second in program history in field goal percentage (.595) and 10th in rebounds per game (8.7).
1. Zion Williamson, PF, Duke
2. Ja Morant, PG, Murray State
3. RJ Barrett, SG, Duke
4. De'Andre Hunter, SF, Virginia
5. Jarrett Culver, SG, Texas Tech
6. Cam Reddish, SF, Duke
7. Coby White, SG, UNC
8. Darius Garland, PG, Vanderbilt
9. Brandon Clarke, PF, Gonzaga
10. Bol Bol, PF, Oregon
11. Sekou Doumbouya, PF, International
12. Jaxson Hayes, C, Texas
13. PJ Washington, PF, Kentucky
14. Kevin Porter Jr., SG, USC
15. Nassir Little, SF, UNC
16. Keldon Johnson, SF, Kentucky
17. Rui Hachimura, PF, Gonzaga
18. Tyler Herro, SG, Kentucky
19. Grant Williams, PF, Tennessee
20. Nickeil Alexander-Walker, SG, Va. Tech
21. Cameron Johnson, PF, UNC
22. Romeo Langford, SG, Indiana
23. Goga Bitadze, C, International
24. KZ Okpala, SG. Stanford
25. Ty Jerome, SG, Virginia
26. Bruno Fernando, C, Maryland
27. Carsen Edwards, SG/PG, Purdue
28. Eric Paschall, PF, Villanova
29. Luguentz Dort, SG, Arizona State
30. Louis King, F, Oregon
Next up: Matisse Thybuille, SF, Washington; Talen Horton-Tucker, SF, Iowa State; Admiral Schofield, SF, Tennessee; Daniel Gafford, C; Arkansas; Shamorie Ponds, G, St. John’s
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