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2019 NBA Draft Big Board 7.0: Defining UNC's Coby White role, Wizards fit

2019 NBA Draft Big Board 7.0: Defining UNC's Coby White role, Wizards fit

As the NBA’s evolution toward positionless basketball continues, North Carolina’s Coby White puts himself into a specific box.

“I’m a point guard.”

The Tar Heel freshman made the role-defining comment to reporters at last month’s NBA Combine in Chicago. The statement came across as more personal focus than a defiant attitude.

White entered college after becoming the all-time leading high school scorer in North Carolina history. He left Chapel Hill after setting toppling Michael Jordan’s freshman scoring record -- and with facilitating skills still considered a work in progress.

The promise is evident. Typically mock draft slotting sends White to teams (Suns at 6, Bulls at 7) seeking point guard help.

“[Like] a lot of point guards in the league, I’m a scoring point guard,” White told NBC Sports Washington in Chicago. “At Carolina, I came in as just a scorer. Coach (Roy) Williams helped me become more of a point guard. My playmaking and facilitating got better as the year went on.”

That the 6-foot-5 White is definitely a point guard isn’t a universal belief, however. ESPN’s rankings list him as a shooting guard. The very first words under the strengths (“Energetic scoring guard who can fill it up in a hurry”) and weaknesses (“Wild decision-maker”) sections highlight the 19-year-old’s current game.

What matters most are the opinions from league executives, especially those whose teams are selecting in the 5-9 range in the June 20 NBA Draft. That includes the Wizards, who own the ninth selection.

The current consensus has White off the board before Washington’s turn, though the Wizards will meet with the UNC product this week at the team’s practice facility. That’s logical -- at the Combine White estimated his draft range extended from 5 to 9 -- but also goes against recent reporting.

The Chicago Tribune reported that the guard -- oops, point guard -- skipped the second day of the Combine because he received a draft “promise” from a team with a top-6 selection. Yet White is slated to visit Washington this week.

The need for the Wizards is evident. Starting point guard John Wall will miss the majority if not all of the entire 2019-20 season following surgery on his ruptured left Achilles in February. The team’s other point guards, Tomas Satoransky and Chasson Randle, are free agents.

Washington’s offense lost the speed element without Wall. Nobody can state definitively how close the 5-time All-Star remains to his physical prime upon returning.

White, who averaged 16.1 points and 4.1 assists last season, offers burst with the ball. He is also working on that change-up. “I’ve been working on that a lot in workouts the past month,” White said of changing pace at the Combine. “Use my speed to my advantage, let the game come to me and it’ll slow it down for me.”

What’s interesting about White for the Wizards, beyond the talent and scoring, is the potential long-term fit with Wall and Bradley Beal. Not only could he contribute next season on-ball, but his size and shooting -- White ranked among college basketball’s top 3-point catch-and-shoot threats last season according to ESPN -- makes for an interesting pairing with Wall.

“I think it would be a great experience for me to play with players of that caliber,” White told NBC Sports Washington of possibly joining forces with Beal and Wall.

The Wizards’ roster situation is such that talent at any position trumps need. That White’s game suggests more than just a singular role makes him appealing in Washington.

  • The Wizards plan on bringing 10-12 players in for workouts with the ninth selection in mind. That’s a large pool. Some of that is simply learning more about players who might be available in free agency or trades in the future. It also speaks to the uncertainty with this selection. Most public big boards have the same top eight prospects in varying order, while the gap between players 9-20 or so isn’t considered significant.

Read the names on the Big Board below for the likely candidates stopping by. Considering the wide net cast, who doesn’t stop by Ward 8 may ultimately become more interesting than who does.

  • France’s Sekou Doumbouya is expected to meet with the Wizards in the coming days and perhaps as soon as this weekend, according to a source. Doumbouya would make plenty of sense for Washington if the immediate plan is patience over playoffs. The raw 6-foot-9 forward is the youngest player in the 2019 class and needs more seasoning before turning into a primary contributor. Doumbouya’s length and defensive versatility mesh perfectly with the modern NBA. Since the other expected options at 9 are also risk-reward types, going for this kid isn’t as scary compared to other drafts.
  • Keep in mind with these pre-draft workouts that the Wizards’ two two-way player slots are empty. They gave Jordan McRae an NBA contract and released Devin Robinson. It’s also rather conceivable an undrafted free agent makes the NBA roster considering the number of open spots and the need to add inexpensive contracts.

2019 NBA Draft Big Board

1. Zion Williamson, PF, Duke

2. Ja Morant, PG, Murray State

3. RJ Barrett, SG, Duke

4. De'Andre Hunter, SF, Virginia

5. Jarrett Culver, SG, Texas Tech

6. Darius Garland, PG, Vanderbilt

7. Coby White, SG, UNC

8. Cam Reddish, SF, Duke

9. Sekou Doumbouya, PF, International

10. Nassir Little, SF, UNC

11. Jaxson Hayes, C, Texas

12. Bol Bol, PF, Oregon

13. Rui Hachimura, PF, Gonzaga

14. Goga Bitadze, C, International

15. Brandon Clarke, PF, Gonzaga

16. Kevin Porter Jr., SG, USC

17. PJ Washington, PF, Kentucky

18. Romeo Langford, SG, Indiana

19. Keldon Johnson, SF, Kentucky

20. Nickeil Alexander-Walker, SG, Va. Tech

21. Ty Jerome, SG, Virginia

22. Tyler Herro, SG, Kentucky

23. Grant Williams, PF, Tennessee

24. Cameron Johnson, PF, UNC

25. Bruno Fernando, C, Maryland

26. Mfiondu Kabengele, PF, Fla. St.

27. Nicolas Claxton, C, Georgia

28. Carsen Edwards, PG, Purdue

29. Luka Samanic, PF, Croatia

30. KZ Okpala, SF, Stanford

31. Daniel Gafford, C, Arkansas

32. Admiral Schofield, PF, Tennessee

33. Luguentz Dort, SG, Arizona State

34. Talen Horton-Tucker, SF, Iowa State

35. Darius Bazley, SF, USA

36. Eric Paschall, PF, Villanova

37. Dylan Windler, SF, Belmont

38. Jalen Lecque, SG, USA

39. Louis King, SF, Oregon

40. Isaiah Roby, SF, Nebraska

41. Tremont Waters, PG, LSU

42. Jordan Bone, PG, Tennessee

43. Matisse Thybulle, SF, Washington

44. Naz Reid, C, LSU

45. Brian Bowen, PF, USA

46. Jalen McDaniels, PF, San Diego State

47. Jontay Porter, C, Missouri

48. Ky Bowman, PG, Boston College

49. Shamorie Ponds, PG, St. John’s

50. Chuma Okeke, PF, Auburn

51. Zach Norvell, SG, Gonzaga

52. Deividas Sirvydis, F, Lithuania

53. Jaylen Hoard, F, Wake Forest

54. Charles Matthews, SF, Michigan

55. Miye Oni, F, Yale

56. Ignas Brazdeikis, PF, Michigan

57. Terence Davis, SG, Mississippi

58. DaQuan Jeffries, SG, Tulsa

59. Cody Martin, SG, Nevada

60. Yovel Zoosman, F. Israel

Others: Quinndary Weatherspoon, SG, Miss. St; Dedric Lawson, F. Kansas; Jordan Poole, SG, Michigan; Marcos Louzada Silva, SF, Brazil; Terance Mann, G, Florida State


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Wizards' 2019 top prospects rankings: Rui Hachimura, Troy Brown Jr. lead the way

Wizards' 2019 top prospects rankings: Rui Hachimura, Troy Brown Jr. lead the way

Though the maturation of the G-League has brought the NBA closer in line with MLB and its minor league farm system, there has been one noticeable element missing for those of us who follow the two sports closely. In baseball, multiple media outlets publish top prospect lists both league-wide and team-specific, yet the equivalents are nowhere to be found in basketball.

Prospect rankings are a great window into the future and they are fun to revisit years later to see who was right and who was wrong. But, so far, they haven’t become widespread in basketball.

The reason why may be rooted in semantics. Generally, basketball players are considered prospects before they are drafted. After they join teams, they just become regular players.

Part of that perception is simply because NBA players can impact their teams at a much younger age. While it is very rare to see a 19-year-old in the majors, it is commonplace in the NBA.

The Wizards, though, may be the perfect team to get this started with. They have a collection of players that are now out of college but have yet to establish themselves in the professional ranks. They are essentially prospects by baseball's definition.

So, in the interest of doing something new here, let's rank them...

1. Rui Hachimura, F

Age: 21
Strengths: midrange shooting, offensive versatility
Areas to improve: three-point shooting, passing

The ninth overall pick this past June, Hachimura is the highest draft pick the Wizards have selected since Otto Porter Jr. in 2013. He is 21, but young in basketball years because he didn't pick up the sport until Age 13. Yet, with three years of college under his belt, he comes in with the experience to likely make a difference right away. And with the Wizards' current roster state, he should have a big opportunity for minutes and shot attempts as a rookie.

Hachimura appears to have several NBA-ready skills, particularly on offense. He makes smart decisions with the ball in his hand and can score at all three levels. His outside shooting needs to be more consistent, but he can knock it down enough to be a threat. Defensively is where he will need to grow the most, but the potential seems to be there for him to develop until a versatile player on that end of the floor. 

Passing is another area he can improve. He didn't record many assists at all in college or in the Summer League. 

2. Troy Brown Jr., G/F

Age: 19
Strengths: rebounding, passing
Areas to improve: outside shooting, turnovers

Though Brown was drafted one year before Hachimura, he is still a year-and-a-half younger. He also didn't crack the Wizards' rotation until late in his rookie season. That makes him still very much a prospect as he enters his Age 20 campaign looking to make a much bigger impact in his second season than he did in his first.

The good news for Brown is that the minutes should be there. At this point he looks like at-worst the second small forward behind C.J. Miles and he should have a chance to battle for the starting job in training camp. With Isaiah Thomas' checkered injury history (he only played 12 games last year), there is a good chance Brown sees time at point guard as well, maybe even some starts there. We'll see.

Brown's passing and rebounding are up-to-speed for his size and position, but he needs to cut down on the turnovers and improve his three-point shot. Though he dominated in his brief time in the Summer League, he still only shot 40.6 percent from the field. Also, the Wizards could really use a leap from him on defense because he has a relatively high ceiling on that end of the floor and most of their players do not.

3. Moe Wagner, C

Age: 22
Strengths: outside shooting, free throw shooting
Areas to improve: defense, rebounding

The path to minutes isn't quite as clear for Wagner, who is probably going to be stuck behind Hachimura, Davis Bertans and Thomas Bryant in the frontcourt. But the way he can crack the rotation is by hitting his threes, something he was not able to do as a rookie for the Lakers last season or in the 2019 Summer League for the Wizards.

Wagner presents intriguing long-term upside because of his shooting and his knack for getting to the rim off pump-fakes. But he needs to learn how to affect more shots around the rim, even if he can't block shots. And his rebounding could use some improvement, as his 9.8 rebounding percentage last season wouldn't even stand out for a wing player, much less a seven-footer.

4. Admiral Schofield, F

Age: 22
Strengths: outside shooting, team defense
Areas to improve: defense against taller players, ball-handling

The expectations should be low for Schofield in his rookie season, despite the fact he played four years in college and has an NBA-ready frame. Most second round picks don't make much of an impact early on and he is slotted to be on the outside of the rotation looking in.

Schofield's fastest way to NBA playing time is through his defense and three-point shooting, the two biggest reasons the Wizards drafted him. If he can provide toughness and an edge in the midrange, it will give the Wizards something they have lacked in recent years. And he shot at both a high percentage and for volume from three at Tennessee, and you can't have enough perimeter shooting these days.

5. Justin Robinson, G

Age: 23
Strengths: outside shooting, passing
Areas to improve: finishing around rim, turnovers

Like Schofield, Robinson is probably going to spend a good deal of his time with the Capital City Go-Go this season. But working in his favor is the team's lack of depth at point guard. They have Thomas, who again has some injury concerns. And they have Ish Smith, but there appears to be an opening at the third point guard spot.

Brown could fill the void and so could Jordan McRae. The Wizards could even give Bradley Beal more of an extended look running the offense. But the door seems to be open for Robinson to make an impact and early. He needs to focus on taking care of the ball, playing physical defense and making his open threes. The Wizards don't need Robinson to be a big-time scorer, but he can add spacing if he shoots from three as he did in college.

Honorable mention: Garrison Mathews, Isaac Bonga


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Bradley Beal snubbed in NBA 2K20 ratings

Bradley Beal snubbed in NBA 2K20 ratings

Bradley Beal has been snubbed yet again.

First All-NBA, now Beal was not even included in the NBA 2K20 top 20 rankings, which were released on a livestream on Monday.

LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard topped the rankings, followed by Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant and James Harden. 

In what we're sure was a completely scientific poll, SLAM Gaming asked its followers if NBA2K got the rankings right. And, at least as of post time, nearly two-thirds of participants said no. 

Ahead of Beal in the rankings included Kemba Walker, Donovan Mitchell and Jimmy Butler. Zion Williamson was the top rookie in the ratings. 

Beal averaged 25.6 points, 5.0 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game last season. That's clear above Mitchell (23.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4.2 assists per game) and Butler (18.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists per game).

The ratings are reportedly determined by a statistically based formula, though that hasn't ever stopped fans from expressing their ire at the game's rating gurus. 

Including John Wall in 2017.