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NBA free agency primer, part 2: Power shift

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NBA free agency primer, part 2: Power shift

Part two of this free agency primer focuses on the bigger NBA picture, but with an eye toward the Wizards. Click here for part one, a look at 10 free agents for Washington.

Power shift

Stop me if you heard this before, but the West is the stronger and deeper of the two conferences. On the surface, this isn't about to change. What could alter the competitive balance? Some of the top free agents switching sides. Every All-Star believes their presence can tip the scales regardless of the tricky path, but everyone noticed the defending champion San Antonio Spurs not even making it out of the first round of the playoffs even though they might have been no less than the second best team in the West. Then again, in this LeBron James era of joining other stars, those other stars are mostly in the West.

Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge tops the list of the free agents likely to change teams. According to reports, the power forward is scheduled to meet with seven teams starting with Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets. Of the seven, the only two in the East are the Toronto Raptors (huh) and the New York Knicks, who have the only Thursday meeting set with Aldridge. 

On the other hand, Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love and Chicago Bulls swingman Jimmy Butler are probably the top two free agents in the East with a chance to change teams. The Cavs and Bulls would remain formidable even if they lost these All-Stars, but not as much. 

Four teams are reportedly in play for Los Angeles Clippers' shot blocking center DeAndre Jordan. Three are in the West (Just assume the Knicks are in play for every notable free agent option). The Wizards are not involved, but they're certainly paying attention because of the Paul Pierce situation. They're also surely interested in where Aldridge, Love, Butler, Dwyane Wade, Goran Dragic, Paul Millsap and others land.

Division race

We all agree nobody really focuses on divisions much anymore, but the Hawks, Heat, Hornets and Magic are the teams the Wizards face the most. Atlanta dominated the entire conference last season, but now must work on keeping starting forwards Millsap an DeMarre Carroll. Miami has a chance for true contention if they keep free agents Wade and Dragic, Chris Bosh returns in good health and center Hassan Whiteside maintains control over his emotions and attitude.

Charlotte overhauled its roster by shipping out Lance Stephenson and bringing in Nicolas Batum plus rookie Frank Kaminsky. Maybe all the changes puts them back into the playoff picture, a picture Orlando's always promising roster might finally, finally enter this season. The Magic drafted shooting threat Mario Hezonja, but could lose restricted free agent forward Tobias Harris.

MORE WIZARDS: Free agency primer: 10 names to watch for the Wizards

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Breaking down the Wizards' 2018 draft class

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards Tipoff podcast: Breaking down the Wizards' 2018 draft class

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chase Hughes and Chris Miller analyze the Wizards' two picks the night of the draft.

They went in-depth on first round pick Troy Brown, Jr. and why the Wizards took him when some big names were still on the board. They also broke down why the Wizards chose to pick a draft-and-stash guy in the second round.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!

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Ernie Grunfeld uses second round pick on draft-and-stash prospect Issuf Sanon

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USA Today Sports

Ernie Grunfeld uses second round pick on draft-and-stash prospect Issuf Sanon

The Washington Wizards selected international prospect Issuf Sanon with the 44th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft on Thursday night.

Like Wizards first round pick Troy Brown, Sanon is just 18 years old and does not turn 19 until Oct. 30. President of basketball operations Ernie Grunfeld said that Sanon is a draft-and-stash prospect and will play at least the following year for Olimpija, a professional team in Slovenia.

Here’s what you need to know about Sanon:

Height: 6-4

Weight: 172

2017-18 stats: 20.5 mpg, 6.0 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 1.4 apg, 1.2 spg, 0.2 bpg, 42.9 FG%, 28.3 3PT%, 50 FT%

*Sanon is a defensive-minded combo guard that is not expected to be ready for the next few years. However, he thrived defensively, allowing just 0.471 points per isolation possession, according to the NBA. That ranks in the 92nd percentile. In the past two seasons in Ukraine’s second division, Sanon averaged 4.6 steals per game.

*While playing in the 2017 U-18 Euros for the Ukrainian National team last summer, Sanon broke out, averaging 19.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 3.4 steals per game. 

*During the middle of the 2017-18 season, Sanon changed teams. He moved from Ukraine’s Dnipro to the more competitive Olimpija in Slovenia.

*The biggest area of improvement for Sanon is developing his offensive game further. While he is just 18 and very raw, Sanon’s numbers have dipped since his move to Olimpija, especially shooting wise. Sanon’s strength comes in transition and his 6-4 frame helps him when slashing to the rim.

*Though he will not play for the Wizards anytime soon, he will come to the United States and play on the Wizards’ Summer League team.