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.
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