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Morning tip: With workouts done, Wizards focus on big picture


Morning tip: With workouts done, Wizards focus on big picture

The process of evaluating potential draft picks is done after the best group of six prospects, led by R.J. Hunter of Georgia State, stopped through Verizon Center on Tuesday. Now comes the tricky part which is trying to figure out what to do come Thursday for the NBA draft when the Wizards choose 19th and 49th.

Do predraft workouts mean anything and who were among the best ones to perform?

Workouts are significantly overrated because the fact is, teams have scouted players throughout the course of their careers in game-time, pressure situations and know their strengths and weaknesses already. It is rare that a player does what Nick Young did in 2007 when he blew away the Wizards in a workout and became a first-round draft pick. The predraft process is about getting to know them on a personal level and seeing how they get along with others (this is largely why Glen Rice Jr. dropped to the second round in 2013 because of his behavior during a workout in Oklahoma City), see if they're in condition or taking the process for granted which is a red flag, how they think on their feet and improvise. The players that the Wizards are genuinely interested in are taken through individual drills. Tyler Harvey (Eastern Washington), Justin Anderson (Virginia), Bobby Portis (Arkansas), Aaron White (Iowa), Jerian Grant (Notre Dame) and Hunter have been among the best in show. Still, there didn't appear to be any surprises. Most of the other players brought in are for three-on-three drills. The lead up to the draft is a lot about deception and misdirection by teams. A player such as Jarrell Martin (LSU), who backed out of his workout with the Wizards likely because he believes he'll go before they pick, can be taken despite not having worked out. This isn't an exact science.

Does Paul Pierce's status impact which direction the Wizards go with their first-round pick?

Of course. Without Pierce, they're incredibly thin at small forward even if Otto Porter is ready to step into the starting role. Pierce leaving increases the chances of Rasual Butler, who is an unrestricted free agent, coming back into the fold as the third man on the depth chart provided the Wizards draft a small forward here. Ideally, they find a combo player who can play some at power forward in a small lineup like Pierce but it's crapshoot that someone outside the lottery is going to be a major contributor right away. In the last 10 years, starting with 2014, the No. 19 picks have been Gary Harris, Sergey Karasev, Andrew Nicholson, Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Jeff Teague, J.J. Hickson, Javaris Crittenton, Quincy Douby and Hakim Warrick. Harris, Bradley and Teague are the best of the group but they didn't blossom immediately. They've taken a few years to grow into quality starters. Neither of them averaged more than 5.0 points as a rookie.

Given how the Wizards finished the season and how the Golden State Warriors won the championship playing small ball, will they downsize?

Not likely. The best teams can play both ways. The Cleveland Cavaliers pushed the Warriors to the brink without key starters using the size of Timofey Mozgov and Tristan Thompson. So while the Wizards might not have as many bigs as last season, they seem to want size with more versatility. They need scorers/shooters so even if they were to take a 6-11 player like Portis, he'll have a face-up game to go with it. 

What will Wizards do in the second round?

It's rare that a gem is found at 49th, but it happens. The Wizards need a guard who can score off the bench. Ramon Sessions is a capable backup point guard for John Wall, but he's a slasher and not a shooter. Harvey might be gone by the time the Wizards pick but if he's still on the board and they don't have to move up to get him, he might be worth the gamble. Harvey's range and ability to bury stepback shots of the dribble impressed as he earned being called "the poor man's Steph Curry." His weaknesses? Size and defense. He's called "heavy-legged" when it comes to his lateral movement and coach Randy Wittman puts a lot of emphasis on defending to get on the court. Can Harvey get his shot off over taller, longer defenders who'll challenge him at this level? He led the nation in scoring and similar questions were asked about Curry, too. 

After the draft is over, what's next?

Pierce should make his answer official about opting in or out of his deal by June 29. The Wizards' roster for Las Vegas summer league will be formalized, free agency opens July 1 and unofficial deals will be reached. The moratorium is lifted July 9, when the new salary cap is set after an audit of league finances, and players can officially sign their deals. The Wizards don't have any cap room so any major moves they're able to make will have to come via trade. Most of their activity is expected to be smaller deals. They'll a mid-level exception available (about $5.5 million), a bi-annual exception (just over $2 million) and will dole out some veteran minimum deals. They also can embark on extension talks with Bradley Beal's representatives after the moratorium. Mini-camp for the summer league roster will take place at Verizon Center before the team leaves for the event that runs July 10-20.

[MORE WIZARDS: Click here to see our most recent NBA Mock Draft]

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Wizards working out Kentucky's Hamidou Diallo another sign the two sides might be a good fit

Wizards working out Kentucky's Hamidou Diallo another sign the two sides might be a good fit

The University of Kentucky was well-represented at the Wizards' first pre-draft workout on Tuesday at Capital One Arena, as All-Star point guard John Wall sat courtside to watch a young player who could join him next season in Washington.

The Wizards hosted Kentucky guard Hamidou Diallo just days after interviewing him at the NBA Combine in Chicago, Ill., another sign the 19-year-old is a legitimate option for their second round pick, set for 44th overall in next month's draft.

Diallo, who is originally from Queens, NY., said he is friends with Wall, as the two have crossed paths due to the Kentucky connection. 

"I feel like he knows what I'm capable of," Diallo said.

He now hopes the Wizards front office understands what he can do. Diallo is a defensive-minded wing who measured 6-foot-6 (with shoes) at the combine and with a 7-foot wingspan. He had the fifth-best max vertical leap at the combine, coming in at 40.5 inches. He was also the 12th-ranked player in the class of 2017 out of high school.

The measurables and pedigree are impressive, but Diallo's potential has yet to be realized. He didn't play a game despite attending Kentucky in the 2016-17 academic year. He tested the NBA Draft waters last summer before returning to Kentucky to average a modest 10.0 points and 3.6 rebounds.

Diallo has already worked out for the Chicago Bulls and will meet with plenty more teams, but is currently projected by most mock drafts to be a second round pick. This time he hired an agent and will definitely be making the leap.

"It feels good this year going through it with both feet in. It's been a great process," he said.

The Wizards like Diallo's defensive ability, his speed and awareness in the open floor and his potential to improve as a shooter. Diallo shot 33.8 percent from three on 2.1 attempts per game in the 2017-18 season.

"I hope to show my athleticism and how that plays a big part on the defensive end," Diallo said of his goals in pre-draft workouts.

"[The Wizards] are a team that wants to play fast and they have a fast point guard that needs players to keep up with him. That's what I tried to show in this workout, to show how fast I can play and show how composed I can play."

If the Wizards deem Diallo worth taking a chance on, he would provide a nice fit positionally. Though their second round pick could spend much of next season in the G-League, Diallo plays shooting guard and they have a need behind starter Bradley Beal. 

The Wizards see Tomas Satoransky as a possibility at backup shooting guard and Jodie Meeks is expected to return next season on a player option. But those guys were on the roster in 2017-18 and couldn't fill the void behind Beal, who logged more minutes than all but three players in the league. Meeks is also set to begin the 2018-19 season serving a suspension.

Diallo played at a big-time program and has the athleticism to compete at the NBA level early on. He could help a team improve long-term at guarding the perimeter, an area the Wizards have made strides in but still have a ways to go. That was seen in their playoff series against the Raptors when Toronto averaged 11.0 threes made per game and shot 41 percent.

Though it's early in the draft workout process, the Wizards have made it clear they are interested in Diallo.

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Wizards' second pre-draft workout to feature possible first-round pick, NCAA star

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Wizards' second pre-draft workout to feature possible first-round pick, NCAA star

The Wizards will have some recognizable names at their second pre-draft workout on Wednesday including potential first round pick Aaron Holiday of UCLA, NBC Sports Washington has learned.

Here is the list with some notes on each player...

Aaron Holiday, guard, UCLA (6-1, 185)

The brother of two NBA players (Jrue and Justin), Holiday played three years at UCLA and averaged 20.3 points, 5.8 assists and 1.3 steals as a junior. He also shot 42.9 percent from three on 6.2 attempts per game. He registered a 6-8 wingspan at the NBA Combine.

Potential fit with Wizards: possible first round pick, likely won't be there in second round; would solidify backup point guard position

Devonte' Graham, guard, Kansas (6-2, 175)

The Big 12 player of the year, Graham averaged 17.3 points and 7.2 assists as a senior. He posted a 6-6 wingspan at the combine. His uncle played for the Cincinnati Reds in the 1990s.

Potential fit with Wizards: second round pick; would provide backup point guard depth

Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, forward, Kansas (6-8, 195)

A big-time three-point shooter, Mykhailiuk shot 44.4 percent from three on 6.6 attempts per game as a senior. He averaged 14.6 points and 3.9 rebounds.

Potential fit with Wizards: second round pick; could be a three-point threat off the bench

Moritz Wagner, center, Michigan (6-11, 241)

Originally from Germany, Wagner was a standout in the NCAA Tournament as the Wolverines went all the way to the final. He averaged 14.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.0 steals as a junior. He also shot 39.4 percent from three and measured at nearly 7-feet in shoes at the NBA Combine.

Potential fit with Wizards: second round pick; could develop into a capable stretch-five

Johnathan Williams, forward, Gonzaga (6-9, 225)

Williams began his career at Missouri before transferring. He averaged 13.4 points and 8.5 rebounds as a senior. 

Potential fit with Wizards: undrafted free agent; possible G-League forward

Zach Thomas, SF, Bucknell (6-7, 228)

Thomas was the Patriot League player of the year with averages of 20.5 points and 9.1 rebounds per game as a senior. He shot 40 percent from three for his college career.

Potential fit with Wizards: undrafted free agent; possible G-League forward

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