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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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Though not a big man, first round pick Troy Brown fills several needs for Wizards

Though not a big man, first round pick Troy Brown fills several needs for Wizards

The Wizards' selection of Troy Brown of the University of Oregon with their first round pick has been met with a strong reaction among fans, many of whom argue he doesn't play a position of need, that it was a luxury pick when other areas could have been addressed, most notably in their frontcourt. Big man Robert Williams of Texas A&M, for example, was still on the board. 

The Wizards, though, did address needs by picking Brown. And really, they arguably filled more pressing needs in the short-term than those at power forward and center.

Though the Wizards clearly need some help at big man in the long-term, as both of their starting bigs are on expiring deals, they need help immediately at both shooting guard and small forward. Brown, though he is only 18 years old and offers no guarantees to contribute right away, can play both of those positions.

Shooting guard is where he can help the most. The Wizards have one backup shooting guard in Jodie Meeks and he is due to miss the first 19 games of the 2018-19 season while serving a suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.

Even when Meeks was available this past season, he only helped so much. He shot just 39.9 percent from the field and 34.3 percent from three. Head coach Scott Brooks often chose to rely more on starter Bradley Beal than go to Meeks as his replacement. As a result, Beal logged the fourth-most minutes of any player in the NBA.

More depth at shooting guard will help relieve Beal of some of that workload. That would be great for keeping him fresh throughout the season and help him be at his best when they need him most in the playoffs.

The Wizards also have some urgency at small forward. It is their strongest position in terms of one-two on the depth chart, but they have no logical third option. That was magnified in the playoffs once Otto Porter got injured. They were left with Kelly Oubre, Jr. and had to trot out Tomas Satoransky, who has limited experience at the position.

Brown can play both shooting guard and small forward, giving them much needed depth. If he can play well enough to earn a rotation spot, the emergency situations the Wizards encountered last season could be avoided in 2018-19.

The Wizards still need to find long-term solutions at power forward and center, but they were going to need to find answers at shooting guard and small forward as well. Both Meeks and Oubre have one year left on their deals. Brown helps solidify the long-term outlook at wing.

Now, there's no denying the Wizards already had considerable talent at both shooting guard and small forward with Beal, Porter and Oubre. That begs the question of how much Brown can offer particularly in the first year of his career. But the Wizards would like to play more positionless basketball and to do that requires depth at wing.

The Boston Celtics have helped make positionless basketball famous and their roster shows that the one player-type you can't have enough of is similar to Brown. Boston has Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Morris. All are around 6-foot-7 or 6-foot-8 and offer versatility on both ends of the floor.

The Wizards also now have four players of that size and with positional versatility in Brown, Porter, Oubre and Satoransky. They can roll out different combinations of those guys and possibly have an advantage on defense with the ability to switch seamlessly on screens.

In the age of positionless basketball, players of Brown's ilk have become major assets especially for teams that have many of them. There is such a thing as having too many point guards or centers because they can't coexist on the floor. Versatile wings, in most scenarios, can play together in numbers.

It's different but in a way similar to certain positions in other sports. In baseball, you can have too many catchers but you can't have too many talented pitchers and utility players. In football, you can have too many running backs or tight ends, but you can't have too many defensive linemen. 

Brown gives them options from a roster perspective in the long-term. Oubre has one year left on his contract and if he continues his trejectory with a strong 2018-19 season, he could price himself out of Washington. Brown could move up the depth chart as his replacement one year from now. The Wizards also now have the option to consider trades at the position given their depth.

The problem, one could argue, with drafting Brown over a Williams-type is that it limits their options at center in particular. Drafting Williams would have made it easier to trade Marcin Gortat, for instance, because they would have had depth to deal from. Now, it's more difficult to trade Gortat, whom they have shopped on and off for months, without a plan to replace him. Finding a Gortat substitute in free agency with the limited resource they have would not be easy.

But big man wasn't their only need and in Brown the Wizards may have found a solution at other areas where they clearly needed help.


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Wizards' second round pick Issuf Sanon will take time, much like Tomas Satoransky did


Wizards' second round pick Issuf Sanon will take time, much like Tomas Satoransky did

The first round of the NBA Draft played out expectedly for what the Wizards had planned for the night. In Troy Brown, they clearly got the guy they wanted all along, seeing as there were many interesting prospects they passed on to choose him.

The second round was a bit more chaotic. Team president Ernie Grunfeld said there were a few players picked just ahead of them at No. 44 that they had their eyes on. They contemplated trading up, but no perfect deals were presented.

So, they decided to think long-term, like really long-term. In choosing Ukrainian point guard Issuf Sanon, the Wizards understand it may be years before he plays in the NBA.

"We hope to have him developed in a few years," Grunfeld said.

Sanon, just 18, plays for Olimpija Ljubljana in Slovenia. He may stay in Europe into his 20s before he comes to the United States.

The Wizards have utilized the draft-and-stash model with other players. Their 2015 second round pick, Aaron White, has been playing in Europe for the past three seasons.

Sometimes those players never convey and contribute for the Wizards. But sometimes they do and Grunfeld pointed to a player already on their roster as a model to consider.

"We drafted Tomas [Satoransky] at an earlier age, he went overseas [and] he played at the highest level and it got him ready for the NBA," Grunfeld said.

The difference between now and then is that the Wizards have a G-League franchise starting this fall, the Capital City Go-Go. Because of that, it seemed more likely going into the draft that the Wizards would use the second round pick on a guy who can play there right away. 

Grunfeld, however, opted for roster flexibility. By keeping Sanon in Europe, the Wizards can have another open roster spot. They could either fill that spot, or leave spots on the end of their roster open as they did for much of last season.

"We want to preserve a roster spot, so just because you draft someone in your second round, if you sign him, he still has a roster spot even if you let him play for the GoGo," Grunfeld said.

Sanon may have a bright future. He is a 6-foot-4 point guard with impressive athleticism who doesn't turn 19 until October. He said he models his game after Russell Westbrook, as a guard who can score the ball. More will be known about him once he plays for their summer league team in July.

The Wizards passed on several interesting prospects to pick Sanon. Still on the board were Keita Bates-Diop of Ohio State, Hamidou Diallo of Kentucky and Svi Mykhailiuk of Kansas, three players they brought in for pre-draft workouts. But instead, they went with a long-term investment, hoping they found the next Satoransky.


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