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NBA Draft analyst ranks prospects with Wizards in mind


NBA Draft analyst ranks prospects with Wizards in mind

There are two sets of rankings when it comes to NBA Draft prospects: The generic list and the specific version with an individual team in mind.

Last month, before the pre-draft workout frenzy tipped off, I highlighted eight players for the Wizards. Washington owns the No. 19 pick. As was the case then, the apparent consensus is that there is little consensus with any ranking of players once we move past the top 8-10 and start looking at the dozen or so options.

On some level, there isn't true consensus on what the Wizards need most. That could change if Paul Pierce decides he won't return for next season. Alas, the veteran small forward and Washington's top stretch-4 option apparently won't let the team know his plans until after Thursday's draft.

The Wizards can certainly use a young, mobile big game with a perimeter shot. They need more shooters in general, especially someone who can provide Bradley Beal support on the wing. Finding a long-term backup for point guard John Wall with enough size to play both guard roles works. If Pierce stays, meaning the core of last season's playoff team return, "Best Player Available" thinking is in play.

Two weeks back I ranked those eight prospects based on the Wizards situation and eliminated the unrealistic dream of Karl-Anthony Towns, D'Angelo Russell or Jahlil Okafor sliding to 19. This weekend I adjusted the list by taking out one player (UNLV F Christian Wood) and adding three more (Utah PG Delon Wright, UNLV SG Rashad Vaughn, Arizona SF Rondae Hollis-Jefferson). Then I sought outside-the-Beltway counsel and asked Ed Isaacson, who cover the draft for NBADraftBlog and Rotoworld, to rank these 10 prospects for the Wizards. His order from best to not best plus analysis:

Bobby Portis - I consider Portis one of the top 10 talents in this draft, so if he somehow fell to the Wizards, picking him should be a no-brainer. Big enough to score and defend around the basket, along with an improving perimeter game. Portis could have an immediate impact off the bench. 

Montrezl Harrell - High-energy and athletic, Harrell has the ability to help right away in some key areas, defense and rebounding. He may be a bit undersized for the 4 spot, but he never seems to stop working on the floor, and his ability to get out and score in transition could make him a favorite of John Wall. 

Jerian Grant - Adding some depth behind John Wall is a good idea, and Grant may be the best point guard available when the Wizards pick. Good size for the position, a better shooter than his numbers show, and great vision, especially in the pick-and-roll. Would be a nice change-of-pace behind wall

Delon Wright - Similar to Grant, though a better defender and not as good of a shooter. Wright likes to attack the rim, and he uses his length well on both ends of the floor.

Justin Anderson - Adding more shooting ability is always a good idea, and when you combine it with Anderson's athleticism and defensive skills, he could be a very good choice here. My main concern is whether the big turnaround in his shooting last season is one that will stick long-term, but even if it doesn't he can help in other areas. 

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson - One of top defenders in the draft, Hollis-Jefferson has the length and athletic ability to guard multiple positions. His offensive game is far behind, though he can have an impact on the glass on both ends of the floor. 

RJ Hunter - Should be a very good shooter at the NBA level, with good size for the position. He has the ability to create off the dribble, and though not a great defender, his length can be disruptive. Probably needs to get stronger physically before really making an impact. 

Rashad Vaughn - A versatile scorer, Vaughn is still young with a lot of physical ability which should make it easy to add to his game. Being a 4th or 5th option on the floor will be a major adjustment for him, and he's said himself that learning shot selection is a challenge for him. 

Trey Lyles - In terms of potential, Lyles may be near the top of this draft, but he is still young and a bit raw on both ends of the floor. There's a lot to like about his skill level, especially his ability to take the ball to the basket off the dribble effectively at 6'10, but I rank below Portis and Harrell at the position because the first two are more prepared to contribute now for a Wizards' team that is ready to next another big step. 

Kevon Looney - Physically, Looney has the makings of a good defender and rebounder at the power forward position, but he's even further away than Lyles from making an impact, and he's less skilled.

Click here for links to CSNwashington.com's profiles and features on these and other prospects.

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Washington Wizards hire assistant coach Michael Longabardi to Scott Brooks coaching staff

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Washington Wizards hire assistant coach Michael Longabardi to Scott Brooks coaching staff

The Wizards sought to add an assistant coach with a strong defensive track record this offseason and they did just that Saturday evening by hiring Michael Longabardi, according to NBC Sports Washington’s Chase Hughes. 

Longardi, 46, has spent the last three seasons as a defensive coach on the Cleveland Cavaliers' staff. He was initially hired by former Cavs' head coach Tyronn Lue in 2016 when the team claimed their first championship in franchise history. 

Before joining the Cavaliers, Longabardi held assistant coaching roles with the Phoenix Suns, Houston Rockets, and most notably the Boston Celtics, in which he and Lue served under head coach Doc Rivers and Tom Thibodeau from 2007 to 2013.

Longabardi was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and attended Xaverian High School, a private Catholic school. He then went on to play basketball at Newberry College where he earned the nickname "Mr. Defense."

Just a day after reports broke that Tommy Sheppard would be promoted to a permanent general manager position, the organization is making yet another move in hopes of improving overall culture and team defense.


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Why the Wizards chose Tommy Sheppard as their new general manager

Why the Wizards chose Tommy Sheppard as their new general manager

The process took nearly four months, yet the Wizards ultimately didn't look far for their new general manager, as the team is removing the interim tag from Tommy Sheppard. The longtime NBA executive will now finally get a chance to run his own operation.

Sheppard may not have been the first choice among fans initially when it was announced he would fill in for Ernie Grunfeld, who was dismissed from his post as team president on April 2, but over the past few months he has acclimated himself well, showing in many ways he is prepared to lead a team as the top person in charge. He cleaned up the Wizards' salary cap situation as best he could, giving them some newfound financial flexibility beyond next season.

Sheppard did that while flooding the roster with young, cheap and high-upside players. And he did so by making some tough decisions, ones that helped demonstrate he can provide an organizational reset despite his role in the previous regime. 

Sheppard allowed Tomas Satoransky to walk in free agency despite being central in bringing him to the Wizards, first by scouting him overseas and then by convincing him to join the NBA ranks. He let Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker leave even though he was part of the braintrust that traded for them. And he traded Dwight Howard, again despite playing a role in bringing him to Washington.

Sheppard has operated with impartiality when the team needed him to. What he has done this offseason looks a lot like it probably would have if the Wizards had hired someone from the outside.

How Sheppard navigated the Wizards through the draft and free agency was central in why managing partner Ted Leonsis decided to elevate him to the long-term post. The last several weeks were treated as a "trial run," according to a person familiar with the process.

Sheppard worked closely with the team's ownership group, giving them written proposals for his plans that addressed goals, budget and contingencies. It was a collaborative effort to make the Wizards' roster younger, cheaper and harder working. They also set out to add more international players and accomplished that by drafting Rui Hachimura and by trading for Davis Bertans, Moe Wagner and Isaac Bonga.

Sheppard impressed Leonsis especially during the effort to re-sign Thomas Bryant. Bryant has become a favorite of Leonsis' for his consistent effort, character and enthusiasm. Sheppard and the Wizards were able to agree with Bryant on a new contract the night free agency began. It was quick and painless.

Sheppard himself will be signing a new contract, NBC Sports Washington was told. And there will be major changes to the organizational structure announced this coming week. In the basketball operations side, the team will heavily expand their investment in analytics, by "triple" according to a person familiar with their plans. They will also beef up their scouting department with an eye on Africa and Latin America.

Sheppard has done a nice job for the Wizards but the real work in many ways about to begin. Dismantling an NBA roster is not as difficult as building a contender. Now he has to find pieces to build around John Wall and Bradley Beal that can help the team win something of substance. 

Sheppard will have to do that within the constraints of Wall's supermax contract. And he will have to sort out Beal's future, which could take a turn later this month. 

On July 26, the Wizards can officially offer Beal a contract extension worth approximately $111 million over three years. But there is a long list of clues that suggest he will not take the offer.

How Sheppard, Beal and the Wizards handle the fallout in the event he turns them down would be a test in itself. Maybe they spin it simply as Beal betting on himself. If he makes All-NBA next season, he could make well over $200 million with a five-year supermax.

For Sheppard, the hard work is about to start. He is set to guide the Wizards into a new era, one he and the team hope can reach a higher peak than the last.