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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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Capital City Go-Go to hold open tryouts in search of local talent in D.C. area


Capital City Go-Go to hold open tryouts in search of local talent in D.C. area

The inaugural season of the Washington Wizards' G-League franchise, the Capital City Go-Go, will bring a lot of new experiences for the D.C. area and that includes the process of open tryouts as they seek the best players in the community to fill out their final roster spots.

There will be an opportunity for the best basketball players in the region to showcase their talent in front of Go-Go executives. They don't know if there will be one or two tryouts, when or where they will be held, but the expectation is sometime in September. 

Go-Go general manager Pops Mensah-Bonsu is hoping for a big turnout.

"I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how many people and what kind of talent we can have coming out to those local tryouts. Once we got those dates, we’ll get them out to the community and hopefully we get a ton of guys coming out here to represent their area," he said.

"Whoever comes out, we’ll love it. The more the merrier. It might make our job harder to choose, but I’m okay with that. It’s an expansion team. We’re looking to put this team together and if we have 200 guys come out, that would be great. It just gives us more of an opportunity and a bigger pool to look through. I’m okay with a lot of guys coming out."

Tryouts are commonplace in the G-League, but the Go-Go expect to have an advantage based on their location. The D.C. area is a hotbed for basketball talent and over the years has produced many NBA players and Division 1 college stars.

Mensah-Bonsu can attest to that, having spent many years in the area. He was a star at George Washington University, was with the Wizards in training camp during his professional playing days and has since stuck around to make the city his home.

"The DMV area has a wealth of basketball talent," he said.

Go-Go head coach Jarell Christian is relatively new to the area, but he expects the tryouts to be productive for a G-League talent search. He has held open tryouts before when he was a member of the G-League staff in Oklahoma City. But this isn't Oklahoma City.

"The talent level in Oklahoma City is different than here in D.C., so I think we’ll be able to find some really good players, locally in those tryouts," Christian said.

Christian said that those who want to sign up will likely need to get in contact with members of the front office, either by themselves or with the help of an agent. He mentioned Mensah-Bonsu and also Scott Schroeder, their assistant GM.

Christian and the coaching staff will run them through drills and scrimmages to evaluate which players to keep. Once they see the basketball skills, they will put them through background checks and get testimonials, just like any other job.

"We just want to get a feel for what the players can do. Also, we’ve gotta get to know them and their character. If we do like a player, we’ve gotta make sure we call their references and they check out as being people that we want in our organization at the end of the day," Christian said.

The G-League allows each team to invite up to five players from their tryouts to participate in preseason training camp.

There are several stipulations when it comes to who can try out. Players have to be at least 18 years old and international prospects are often not allowed. The tryouts also generally require a registration fee. More information on the requirements for the Go-Go tryouts will be released once the dates are set.

Open tryouts for other teams around the G-League have produced some unique success stories. Guys who have gone on to make the NBA include Jonathan Simmons and David Nwaba. Perhaps the Go-Go will find the next diamond in the rough.

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Jeff Green happy to reunite with head coach Scott Brooks on Wizards

Jeff Green happy to reunite with head coach Scott Brooks on Wizards

The city of Washington, where he grew up near and was a star in college at Georgetown University, isn't the only factor that makes joining the Wizards familiar for Jeff Green. He is also reuniting with his former coach, Scott Brooks, who now leads the Wizards.

Long ago, Brooks was cutting his teeth on the sidelines while Green was finding his way on the court. When Green was a rookie on the Seattle Supersonics in 2007, Brooks was a 42-year-old assistant coach. The team moved to Oklahoma City the following year and by late November of 2008, Brooks was the head coach after P.J. Carlesimo was fired.

Brooks helped oversee Green's first four seasons as an NBA player and Green remembers those days well.

"He looked way better than he does now," Green joked.

Brooks, now 53, has a knack for taking playful shots at those he works with, whether that be players, fellow coaches or the media. Green is clearly on that level and feels comfortable ribbing his head coach, knowing he can both dish it out and take it.

All jokes aside, Green is still appreciative of the tutelage he received from Brooks back in the day.

"Scotty was my No. 1 guy, he’s always been, but when I first stepped foot on an NBA floor, he was there for me. He was a coach with Seattle when I first got into the league," Green said.

The NBA has taken Brooks and Green to very different places in the seven years since they split ways. Green left for the Celtics and has since played for the Grizzlies, Clippers, Magic and most recently the Cavaliers. Brooks stuck around with OKC through the 2014-15 season before he was let go. After taking a year off, he joined the Wizards.

Much has changed in Brooks and Green's lives. They have lost and gained jobs. Their families have grown. Now, they are back on the same team and Green is excited about it.

"We’ve been close and tight ever since. We never lost contact. So, I’m looking forward to being coached by him again. I know he’s going to put us all in great positions to succeed. We just have to do our part on the floor," Green said.

Green spoke with Brooks on the phone before deciding to sign with the Wizards as a free agent in July. His presence was one of the many reasons he felt Washington was a good fit.

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