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Second round options and what about Wizards trading down


Second round options and what about Wizards trading down

Around 48 NBA Draft prospects visited Verizon Center over the last month for workouts with the Washington Wizards. In most cases, only those viewed as potential options with the 19th overall pick received attention from fans and writers. As interest in certain players grow, questions about moving up in the draft in order to secure the coveted power forward or wing shooter.

What generates fewer words is the idea of moving back in the draft or the second round in general. 

At this point there is no reason to think the Wizards won't stay pat and use their first round selection to address need areas with prospects like Arkansas PF Bobby Portis, Georgia State guard R.J. Hunter, Notre Dame point guard Jerian Grant, Virginia swingman Justin Anderson and Louisville bruiser Montrezl Harrell likely in the mix.

It's also worth noting Washington brought in some players that, based on public big board/mock draft consensus, are projected in the range between 19 and the mid-second round. The Wizards also own the 49th pick. 

For their final pre-draft session on Tuesday, the Wizards brought in four players that DraftExpress.com ranks 25-37: Christian Wood (25), Hunter (26), Anthony Brown (27) and 6-foot-11 Mouhammadou Jaiteh (37). Of those four, only Hunter cracks the top 24 on ESPN analyst Chad Ford's top prospect list. Another prospect in the same session, Boston College guard Olivier Hanlan, ranks 35th on Ford's board. Previous workouts included other prospects that fit this general draft range description in UNLV scoring guard Rashad Vaughn, UCLA combo guard Norman Powell and LSU forward Jordan Mickey. 

Teams need players to run their workouts. Sometimes it's that simple when it comes to who receives an invitation. Other times, it might be about taking a closer look at someone who might become an option down the road. Also, opinions wildly diverge on prospects starting late in round one as teams start looking for players with specific skills or draft-and-stash options. The Wizards are doing their homework. We'll see if it's about the long-term future or something for the here and now.

  • One reason trading up doesn't make tons of sense from a value standpoint is the perceived negligible talent gap between late lottery and 20-24. If need trumps value in the eyes of decision makers, then a deal up becomes more of a possibility. On the other hand, if Washington likes options projected in the 20-35 range, then moving down enters the discussion. Dealing in this direction could provide the team with future picks, an opportunity to shed a contract or possibly veteran talent for 2015-16 (Hypothetical deal: 19, Martell Webster ($5.7 million + team option), DeJuan Blair ($2mil + team option) to Denver for the reportedly on-the-block stretch-4  Danilo Gallinari ($11.6 mil expiring contract...Hypothetical scenario: The 76ers have five second round picks, including No. 35 and 37, plus enough cap space to take on contracts).

  • As for options at 49, some names to consider (no, "Cash considerations" is not one of them. You guys are funny):

Tyler Harvey, SG, Eastern Washington - Led the nation in scoring last season. Deep range shooter for a team lacking in that area besides Bradley Beal.

Aaron White, PF, Iowa - Hustling, stretch-4 type forward who provides positional and scoring versatility. Tops among prospects in getting to the free throw line last season.

Olivier Hanlan, SG/PG, Boston College - The 6-foot-4 Canadian appears to be moving up in round two as teams get a closer look at his combo guard skills. Part of Tuesday's workout, which he said was his 18th.

Nikola Radicevic, PG, Serbia - Wizards clearly aren't afraid to take shots on international players. The 6-foot-5 guard, ranked 68th overall by DraftExpress, worked out in Washington.

Pat Connaughton, SG, Notre Dame - Orioles fans don't want to hear this, but Baltimore's pitching prospect ha turned into a bonafide NBA Draft option. 3-point threat also had highest vertical leap (44") at combine.

J.P. Tokoto, SF, North Carolina -  Athletic wing who can contribute immediately on defense. Streaky shooter sank 37.5 % of his 3-point attempts.

Satnam Singh, C, India - Long-term project, but as the saying goes, you can't teach height. The 7-foot-2, 290-pounder could become the first NBA player from India

Dez Wells, SG, Maryland - Known in these part as a physical scoring wing threat for the Terps and John Wall's childhood friend. 

Joshua Smith, C, Georgetown - Massive size and impressive scoring knack makes the latest Hoyas big man worth considering. Potential steal for any team capable of getting Smith to prioritize fitness and helping him find needed motivation.

  • Since only 60 players will hear their names called during Thursday's draft, plenty of interesting options suddenly become coveted as teams look to fill out summer league rosters. Keep an eye out for guards Marcus Thornton (William & Mary), Jabril Trawick (Georgetown), Keifer Sykes (Green Bay), Amere May (Delaware State) and Jarvis Threatt (Delaware/D-League).


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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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