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2018 NBA Mock Draft 6.0: The final edition

2018 NBA Mock Draft 6.0: The final edition

We're now down to the final hours before the 2018 NBA Draft.

After all the sifting through workouts, reports, rumors, and lies, a picture is starting to take shape about where teams may actually go Thursday night. 

This draft is loaded with a ton of big man prospects, from DeAndre Ayton, Jaren Jackson Jr., Marvin Bagley, and Mohamed Bamba, all coming with varying opinions as to how much of an impact these players can have in the NBA. 

Add that to the never-ending guesses as to where Trae Young will end up and what he'll actually look like at the next level, and it makes sense so many GM's are said to be sweating buckets when building their final draft boards. 

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This could be the draft we look back on as the one that brought back the big man to the NBA.

It can also be the draft that brings us more unreached potential than anything else. 

Then again, the NBA Draft is so full of crossing fingers and hoping for the best, we should honestly be used to this narrative by now.

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That being said, let's take a look at the five "can't-miss" prospects, and the five "teams shouldn't touch them with a really long pole" ones as well.

It doesn't mean these guys are deserving of being a top-5 pick per say, it just means that what you expect to get from them, you will.

Heck, it's not our job on the line if it's wrong anyway, so no pressure here.

WIZARDS TOP FIVE FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PROSPECTS

1. Robert Williams: 6-10 PF/C with a freakish wingspan. Could be off the board if the Clippers look to prepare for life without DeAndre Jordan. But if Williams is there at No. 15, it's hard to see the Wizards not taking him.

2. Zhaire Smith: Freak athlete who started his college career as an unheralded 3-star recruit. But he has a lot to work on aside from his athleticism

3. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: Could be off the board by No. 15, but the Wizards really like him and would be a solid fit as an understudy to John Wall.

4. Kevin Knox: Like his Kentucky teammate Gilgeous-Alexander, Kevin Knox might be off the board at No. 15, but his abillity to hit the otuside shot and his improving low-post skills make him a great fit as a power wing.

5. Lonnie Walker: Arguably the most entertaining player in the draft. the former Miami Hurricane isn't the best fit for the Wizards, but if options are limited, it will be hard to pass on such an explosive playmaker.

WIZARDS' TOP FIVE SECOND-ROUND DRAFT PROSPECTS

1. Keita Bates-DiopThe versatile Ohio State wing was the Big Ten Player of the Year and showed a huge leap in improvement his final season in Columbus. He can do a bit of everything and is a polsihed player with a high I.Q.

2. Brandon McCoy: a 7-1 UNLV freshman with a ton of upside> he's raw, but if the Wizards draft a wing in the first-round, drafting a future frontcourt player is a good direction to head in.

3. Hamidou Diallo: The Kentucky wing did a bit of everything for the Wildcats and projects as a smaller version of Kelly Oubre. 

4. Jevon Carter: The WVu guard is the toughest competitor in the draft. In fact, agents were steering their young clients away from draft workouts in which they would have to compete against Jevon Carter. He may not be the best player in the draft, but he will make everyone on the team a better competitor.

5. Sviatoslav Mykhailuk: An elite marksman from Kansas who can create his own shot and is adept at taking and making shots off the screens and in catch and shoot situations.

FIVE CAN'T MISS 2018 NBA DRAFT PROSPECTS

1. Luka Doncic: 6-8 wing who can also be the primary ball-handler, with the ability to score off the dribble. Euroleague MVP at just 19 years old.

2. Mo Bamba: Offensive game will determine his ceiling, but that pterodactyl-like wingspan will assure he's one of the all-time great rim-protectors. 

3. Collin Sexton: Fast, aggressive guard who can attack the rim and score. 

4. Mikal Bridges: May never be a star, but will have a great career as a starting 3-and-D player at worst.

5. Aaron Holiday: Great shooter/scorer that can distribute as well. 6-6 wingspan means he can defend either guard position. 

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FIVE 2018 NBA DRAFT PROSPECTS TO STAY AWAY FROM

1. Trae Young: Small, can't defend. When was the last time the "next (fill in the blank name here)" guy actually became that guy?

2. Michael Porter Jr.: Tough because there's a ton of talent there, but his early injury history makes you worry how he'll hold up in the NBA. 

3. Lonnie Walker IV: Rough start to his freshman year. Shot just 34.6 percent from three. Defensive effort lags and can be inconsistent on both ends. 

4. Mitchell Robinson: Who exactly is this guy anyway? Are we sure he actually exists?

5. Grayson Allen: Could get a first-round look, but the whole, you know, tripping and temper tantrum thing might be an issue at the next level too. 

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Wizards open to trading big names? New report says 'every player' available for discussion

Wizards open to trading big names? New report says 'every player' available for discussion

With the losses piling up, rumors about the Washington Wizards’ future will increase. Another report emerged Monday following Sunday’s 119-109 home loss to the Portland Trailblazers.

From ESPN’s NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski:

As the Washington Wizards' season spirals, the franchise has started to deliver teams an impression that every player on their roster -- including All-Star guards John Wall and Bradley Beal -- is available for discussion in trade scenarios, league sources told ESPN.Washington's preference remains to reshape the team around Wall and Beal, but poor play among key teammates is limiting their trade value and paralyzing the Wizards' efforts to make meaningful changes to a roster that no longer appears functional together, league sources said.

This isn’t the first time this season that a report emerged about Washington’s potential involvement in trade talks. There is a difference, however. Prior reports had the Wizards inquiring about adding All-Star talents like Jimmy Butler and Kawhi Leonard to the Wall-Beal pairing as a way to push the projected contenders up the Eastern Conference standings.

This new angle from Wojnarowski is more about breaking up the band because of the off-key tone emerging from this roster after 16 games.

Sunday’s loss dropped Washington to 5-11. Of those defeats, seven have been by at least 10 points including the last two.

The Wizards have several tradable assets particularly with eight of their 13 players entering some form of free agency this summer including starting power forward Markieff Morris and key reserve Kelly Oubre Jr. Moving any of those players could provide some help on the margins or provide a needed wakeup call for a slumbering group. A true shakeup means dealing Wall, Beal or Otto Porter.

Wall’s supermax contract extension starts with 2019-20 season. He will average $42 million annually over the next four years. There’s an additional cost with a move as Wall’s contract includes a 15 percent trade kicker. None of the financial or compensation aspects factors in any deal involving Wall would mean dealing the face of the franchise since Washington selected the point guard No. 1 overall in 2010.

Beal, 25, is the more attractive guard for other teams. His off-ball game would be an easy fit for virtually any team in the league. The All-Star’s contract extension is the more palatable of the trio even with a $28.7 million salary in 2020-21, the final year of his deal. Porter, whose deal also extends to 2020-21, is the Wizards’ highest paid player this season at $26 million.  

Players said last week they don’t want to see trades.

“Everybody just has to be calm and patient,” Wall told NBC Sports Washington Thursday before back-to-back losses. “You hear all the talks about trade everybody, blow the team up. There’s no need for that.”

Portland led 32-12, by 21 points at halftime and 29 in third quarter.

"We've got to just play with more enthusiasm, more effort, more energy," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said after the loss. "That's embarrassing."

Wall and Beal also weighed in Sunday on the lagging effort postgame.

"You can't teach effort. You can't teach heart," Wall said.

Washington’s deep reserves pushed back in the final period and cut the deficit to single digits briefly.

 “It was terrible,” Beal said of the work from the main rotation players. “The guys who were in it at the end of the game played their asses off – played the way they we’re supposed to play the whole game and we didn't do that.” 

The Wizards aren’t playing the way anyone imagined. With 66 games remaining, there is plenty of time for a turnaround. At the moment, everyone is searching for solutions.
 

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Wizards running out of answers, but players don't seem to want trades

Wizards running out of answers, but players don't seem to want trades

As the Wizards have shown this year, and really since the beginning of last season, there is one particular type of NBA team that gives them trouble. It's the team that plays collectively, with toughness and an edge on defense.

The Wizards allow their opponents to set the tone and the aggressive ones that punch them first usually don't get a punch back.

So far this season, blue-collar teams like the Grizzlies, Clippers and Nets have given the Wizards fits. In those losses, Washington was just trying to keep up, hopelessly reacting on too many plays just a half-or-full-step slower than they needed to.

Though the Blazers are a high-scoring team led by big-name stars, they possess the qualities that expose the Wizards when they are in their most listless form. On Sunday, Portland came out with want-to on defense and a commitment to moving the ball to find open shooters on offense. 

That simple combination was too much for the Wizards, who let the game slip away early, trailing by as many as 20 points in the first quarter alone.

It was hard to watch for everyone on the Washington side; for fans, the coaches and also the players who are losing patience as they grasp for answers to what will fix their persistent woes.

The prevailing message from head coach Scott Brooks' postgame press conference and from the locker room was that they are actively searching for a solution, but that they have no clear sense what that solution is.

"It's embarrassing,” Brooks said, citing effort and energy like he often has this season. “Just trying to figure that out. It's on me."

"I'm not sure. We have to figure something out," forward Markieff Morris said.

"Honestly, I really don't have an answer," forward Jeff Green said, genuinely perplexed.

As the Wizards wilt at 5-11 and in last place, the general consensus from those on the court and the bench seems to be that no major changes need to be made. Brooks suggested he needs to find "five guys on the court that are playing for their team." But he says that all the time and has ever since he took the job before the 2016-17 season.

It doesn't mean wholesale changes are coming.

Guard Bradley Beal pleaded the fifth when asked if trades or firings need to be made.

"I have no idea. All I can do is my job and just like everybody else, and just come in and try to get better every day. At the end of the day, that's Ted [Leonsis'] job, Ernie [Grunfeld's] job to make those decisions," he said.

Morris and guard John Wall each expressed confidence in the players already on the roster.

“I don't think so," Wall said of potentially breaking up the core. "We can still figure it out."

"It's not time for a fire sale," Morris told NBC Sports Washington.

The best insight into what is plaguing the Wizards came from backup guard Austin Rivers. Though he can't put a finger on it, either, he sees some bad signs.

"Our team is like loaded with talent and we're losing game after game. You just start to question it," he said. 

"Guys are like tentative now when they're on the floor. You can see it. You guys can watch it and see it. It doesn't even take a basketball expert to watch... When you lose, guys start getting unsure. We're running and our spacing is terrible. It's just a snowball effect."

Rivers, like Green, went out of his way to say Brooks wasn't the root of it, that it's on the players. He also highlighted his backcourt partner Tomas Satoransky as someone who was exempt from their issues.

"Sato is definitely not the problem. Sato doesn't do anything wrong," Rivers said.

Satoransky was one of the few Wizards players who came out of Sunday's defeat with reasons to hold their chin up walking into the locker room afterwards. He had 10 points, seven assists and was +22 in the box score. 

Like Satoransky, Kelly Oubre Jr. played well. He had 19 points, four rebounds, four assists and three blocks. He was +14. Others like Thomas Bryant and Troy Brown Jr., two youngsters who only played when the game was out of hand, provided a spark of energy off the bench and helped cut the Blazers lead down to single digits late in the game after Portland led by as many as 29.

Brooks has been wary of major lineup adjustments since he arrived in Washington, but it's never been quite this bad. At 5-11, this start is even worse than two years ago, his first season on the job, when they rallied to win 49 games.

If their losing continues, Brooks will have to do something drastic at some point. Maybe that is moving Oubre into the starting lineup and taking Morris out to help guide the second unit. Morris could thrive as a small-ball center, while Oubre could help set a tone defensively with the starters. 

Oubre is their most energetic and active defender. Perhaps that would rub off on Wall, Beal and Otto Porter Jr.

It's clear the Wizards need to change something and the rotation is the logical first place to start. Rivers, for one, wonders if things will get better if they simply stick to the current plan.

"You're just like 'stay with it and it will turn around.' But when? You're digging yourself a farther and farther hole," he said.

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