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NBA Draft profile: Harrison Barnes

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NBA Draft profile: Harrison Barnes

Later this month, the Washington Wizards will take part in the 2012 NBAdraft. Currently the owner of picks 3, 32 and 46 go in almost any directionwith those selections, though the prevailing belief is they must upgrade theirperimeter options this offseason.

Between now and the draft, were going to identify some of the players theWizards might target in both the first and second round. First up, NorthCarolina's sharpshooting small forward Harrison Barnes.The NBA combine will take place June 7-8 in Chicago and the draft will beheld on June 28 in Newark.Harrison Barnes
North CarolinaHeightWeight: 6-8 38, 223 lb (pre-combine numbers)Draft Express overall ranking: No. 6 The player: The only freshman ever named a preseasonAll-American before playing a single second on the college level, Barnes livedup the hype at times with an array of polished perimeter moves and textbookshooting. Playing on a North Carolina squad loaded with first-round talent,Barnes averaged 17.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and shot 35.8 percent from 3-pointterritory as a sophomore last season. His numbers and overall play droppedduring the NCAA Tournament and turned what was looking like a rock starentrance into the pro ranks into a more muted arrival.

The fit: Whatever positive attributes one wants to imposeon the Wizards roster, the ability to knockdown shots consistently is not oneof them. Only the lowly Charlotte Bobcats and Sacramento Kings finished belowthe Wizards 32 percent clip from beyond the arc. Barnes' is currently moreof a mid-range than long-range shooter, but at any distance he offers more hope than theWashington's current lot of small forwards, a unit which struggled with morethan just hitting outside looks. Barnes and ChrisSingleton could form an offense-defense type combo. Playing alongside John Wall would provide Barnes with a playmaker capable of setting up his teammates with viable shot opportunities. The issue: At times during his days with the Tar Heels, Barnes disappeared into the background,but concerns over Barnes's inactivity and ability to create his own offense grew louder during the NCAA Tournament.After North Carolina's pass-first point guard Kendall Marshall went down with an injury, the Iowa native's production andoverall feel for the game vanished as if it was one of the baseball playerswalking off into the Iowa cornfield in Field of Dreams. Without the heady distributor setting him up with open looks, Barnes shot 8of 30, including a brutal 2 of 14 from beyond the arc. The display was morethan just about misses. It felt like a regression or at least fears beingrealized that his game is best suited to be a supporting player and not a leadcharacter on a title-contending team.The summaries SI.com's Andy Glockner, interview with CSNwashington: "I think Harrison Barnes is the type ofplayer one team could fall in love with so he could be in the discussionbetween 2-5, but I have been consistently outspoken in thinking I would not goanywhere near him if I had a high lottery pick. I don't honestlysee what is going to translate at the next level that is going to make him morethan a decent rotation type guy. He's a good, not great catch-and-shoot guy.He's very good off one bounce so he has a 17-18 footer he can hit. He was verypassive for large chunks of both seasons at North Carolina. Did not get intothe lane, did not get to the rim, did not get to the foul line. He doesn't havea good handle...I didn't see the raw skill set or the want to that makes me thinkhe's going to be a highly motivated athlete at the next level."Draft Express: "While Barnes' disappointing finish to the season highlighted some of the concerns NBA teams may have regarding how his game will translate to the NBA level, he's still likely to be a very high pick in this summer's NBA Draft, as he brings a quite a bit to the table, starting with his ideal physical profile for an NBA small forward prospect. "He has great size at 6-8 to go along with a long wingspan, and a very strong, mature frame for a (20 year old). He doesn't possess elite explosiveness, but he's very smooth and fluid athletically, and should have an easier time than most rookies adjusting to the NBA from a physical standpoint." The take: Is likely on the outer limits of the top overall prospects in the draft, but only Florida's guard Bradley Beal arguably ranks higher as a distance scoring threat. Starting his career as a third or fourth option might limit any initialpressure and allow Barnes to find a comfort zone against zoneand man-to-mandefenses. Of course, starting his career as the third overall pick and playing fora fan base desperate for winning basketball will not allow him to fly under theradar. Noting the passivity that often comes with Barnes' game is more thanjust poking holes in his resume. Whether it overrides his positiveattributes is a question the Wizards' brain trust will weigh over the comingweeks.Ben Standig blogs about the Redskins,Wizards, Hoyas and the D.C. area college basketball scene for CSNwashington.You can reach him by email at bstandig@comcast.net,follow him on Twitter @BenStandig and catch his musings at the D.C. Sportalist.

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Wizards GM search: Resetting the potential candidates

Wizards GM search: Resetting the potential candidates

The Wizards general manager search reset needs a reset.

We head into the holiday weekend with the local NBA team still lacking a permanent front office leader. Zero reports of interviews of any kind since last week’s meeting with Nuggets President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly.

At least we can cross off the idea of flirting with Portland’s Neil Olshey. The Blazers’ President of Basketball reportedly signed an extension one day after NBC Sports Washington reported interest from the Wizards.

For now, we wait, though be prepared for a hire any day – or not. At this point, here are the names to consider.

Tommy Sheppard – The Wizards VP of Basketball Operations began running the show on an interim basis following the firing of President of Basketball Operations on April 2. That he’s making the calls from inside the house, running the pre-draft process and showing a Wizards world with him in charge gives Sheppard an inside track over all other candidates.

To call him the favorite, however, might be a stretch at this point based simply on the fact that he has not been hired despite his in-house status. Sheppard is well respected around the NBA and league voices would tell frustrated fans they shouldn’t consider him Grunfeld 2.0.

Theory: If Sheppard gets the nod, the Wizards promote Go-Go general manager Pops Mensah-Bonsu to serve as Sheppard’s number two and then promote the benefits of their G-League investment beyond player development.

Troy Weaver –The Thunder assistant general manager met with the Wizards twice. Weaver, long considered a rising front-office star, worked with Wizards coach Scott Brooks in Oklahoma City and flashed his recruiting skills at Syracuse when he landed Carmelo Anthony. The D.C. native still has ties to the area.

Danny Ferry – Like Weaver, Ferry met with the Wizards twice in Washington. Throughout the search process, multiple league sources told NBC Sports Washington that the former Hawks and Cavaliers general manager is the best candidate for the Wizards’ opening even over Connelly. The Hawks won 60 games during the 2014-15 season and reached the Eastern Conference Finals.

Some question the strength of his candidacy based on any lingering controversy stemming from comments he made as Hawks GM regarding Luol Deng’s heritage in 2014, of which an independent investigation stated Ferry's intentions were not racially motivatedThis week former Georgetown coach John Thompson Jr. vouched for Ferry’s character on a local radio show.

Neither Ferry nor Weaver was likely to have heard back from the Wizards since Connelly’s involvement as of mid-week, according to sources familiar with the situation. Like the rest of us, they wait for news. 

Larry Harris – There’s no official reporting linking the Wizards to Golden State’s assistant GM. Washington and New Orleans both used the same consultant, Mike Forde, during their front office searches. Many of the same people have interviewed for both jobs. Harris, the former Bucks GM who joined the Warriors in 2008, met with New Orleans before the playoffs began.

That the Wizards appear patient with their search may suggest they are waiting for someone still in the playoffs.

Masai Ujiri – Speaking of an executive whose team is still in the playoffs… Ujiri’s Raptors are one game away from reaching the NBA Finals. NBC Sports Washington previously reported Ujiri showed interest in Washington. However, expectations of high salary demands and compensation from the Raptors for their President of Basketball Operations stunted any serious movement.

Bonus names -- Bucks assistant GM Milt Newton was part of the Wizards front office from 2003 to 2013. … Celtics assistant GM Mike Zarren was deemed a candidate by the New York Times early in the process. One Boston-based source believes that Zarren would prefer remaining with the team he grew up rooting for rather than pursue most open GM jobs. … Spurs assistant GM Brian Wright, another D.C. area native, just completed his third year with San Antonio. 

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: KZ Okpala

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: KZ Okpala

The Washington Wizards will have the ninth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select...

2019 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: KZ Okpala

School: Stanford
Position: Forward
Age: 20
Height: 6-10
Weight: 210
Wingspan: 7-2
Max vertical: 37 in.

2018/19 stats: 16.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.5 bpg, 46.3 FG% (5.9/12.7), 36.8 3PT% (1.1/3.0), 67.1 FT%

Player comparison: Kyle Kuzma, Gerald Green

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 25th, NBADraft.net 23rd, Bleacher Report 27th, Sports Illustrated 29th, Ringer 41st

5 things to know:

*Okpala is a tall, lanky wing who loves to drive from the perimeter to the rim. He made the All-Pac-12 team this past season after improving his scoring average from 10.0 points as a freshman to 16.8 points as a sophomore. He also increased his rebounds per game average from 3.7 to 5.7.

*He is arguably one of the most athletic players in this class. At 6-foot-10 in shoes, he has great size for a wing player and measured at the NBA combine with a 7-2 wingspan. He also has an impressive vertical leap of 37 inches which would be good even for a point guard. He is also fast in the open court. Teams will be enticed with his ceiling on both ends of the floor.

*Okpala scored a lot in college but has a raw offensive game. He isn't fully there as a ball-handler and has an improving, but still inconsistent outside shot. The fact he made a leap from his freshman to sophomore year as a three-point shooter was a very good sign. His 36.8 three-point percentage on three attempts per game is encouraging but does not offer any guarantees that he can stretch the floor at the next level. His 67.1 free throw percentage doesn't help his cause.

*He is just the third player from Stanford to leave for the NBA before his junior season, joining the Lopez twins, Brook and Robin, who were first round picks in 2010.

*Okpala is the son of two Nigerian immigrants. He had a 4.4 GPA in high school.

Fit with Wizards: Okpala would fill a need for the Wizards in that he is a forward and they don't have many of those under contract for next season. He would also give them a young player with high upside, something they currently lack.

But Okpala also seems to offer decent bust potential. Ever since Kevin Durant came into the league, there have been a lot of players like Okpala to come along, ones that are tall enough to play inside but prefer to work on the perimeter.

Sometimes that can work, like with Giannis Antetokounmpo or Brandon Ingram (sort of). But for every success story, there seem to be a lot of guys like Perry Jones and Thon Maker.

Okpala seems very much like boom or bust, and the Wizards may not be able to afford taking a chance like that.

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