For those hoping consensus forms around whom the Washington Wizards should draft with the ninth overall selection, here’s the good news.
Ten days remain until the 2019 NBA Draft. Maybe folks agree on some pecking order by then.
For the moment, at least from the outside perspective of scouts, front office executives and college coaches, whom the Wizards should draft at nine remain unclear. This occurs despite a somewhat consistent view of the top eight selections in the June 20 draft regardless of the exact order.
Duke forward Zion Williamson, the most exciting player to enter the NBA Draft since LeBron James, is alone in his own tier. Momentum for the second pick remains with Murray State point guard Ja Morant though Duke’s R.J. Barrett has his supporters.
Perception of talent available drops off from there, but credible public mock drafts overwhelmingly have the names (here listed alphabetically) Jarrett Culver, Darius Garland, De’Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish and Coby White next.
From there, insert your favorite shrugs emoji.
Some buy Gonzaga’s Rui Hachimura, a 6-foot-8 power forward with a 7-foot-2 wingspan who averaged 19.7 points last season with the Bulldogs while draining 41.7 percent on his 3-point attempts. There are whispers that the Wizards are interested in the Japanese native at nine.
“I like Rui a lot,” a college basketball coach told NBC Sports Washington. “I think teams will pass on him and regret it.
However, when asked about the possibility of at nine selecting Hachimura, one Eastern Conference scout echoed the take from others by saying, “that might be a stretch.”
The latest mock drafts from ESPN and The Athletic slot French forward Sekou Doumbouya, the youngest player in the 2019 class, to the Wizards. Plenty of intrigue lies with a developing 6-foot-9 player capable of defending 1-4.
Sekou Doumbouya knocking down 15 threes in a row with close to 10 general managers on hand. Doumbouya certainly showed his talent during the 45-minute workout. 6-10 versatile athlete with skill potential. pic.twitter.com/qGZliNiV7S— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) June 8, 2019
NBC Sports Washington also sent Doumbouya to Washington in last week’s mock draft. Upon hearing this decision, one NBA scout simply replied, “too high. This was not a unique response.
None of this is to suggest Hachimura, Doumbouya, North Carolina small forward Nassir Little, Gonzaga forward Brandon Clarke or a handful of other candidates are not intriguing. The balking becomes less muted somewhere in the teens. Based on the historical norms of the ninth pick, excitement remains elusive.
Another Eastern Conference scout said this draft class from four down, but particularly from mid-lottery down, left him feeling manic. “One day in love. The next day with the same yet different eyes, the perception changes,” said the scout.
As for whom the Wizards should draft, one player’s name came up a bit more this week than others: Texas center Jaxson Hayes.
Like Doumbouya, going with 7-foot Hayes is a long-term play. Some league and college sources are intrigued by his combination of length (7-foot-3 wingspan) and agility. Hayes blocked 2.2 shots per game last season while shooting 72.8 percent from the floor. Many of those field goals came on dunks as the Longhorns effectively used Hayes as a screen-and-roller or as a lob catcher.
Just like his peers, Hayes’ candidacy doesn’t come with universal approval. Some sources question the 219-pound freshman’s toughness or ability to bang with real NBA centers. Hayes averaged 5.0 rebounds in 23 minutes for the Longhorns.
“[Hayes is] quite raw. Doesn’t rebound,” one NBA scout said. “Betting on the upside for sure.”
What makes Jaxson Hayes the best roller/finisher in the draft? Where can he still improve? Breakdown from the NBA Draft Combine. pic.twitter.com/Ar5JbKFsK1— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) May 23, 2019
Despite the lack of a permanent front office leader, the Wizards are doing their homework. They met with several prospects at last month’s NBA Combine including White, Reddish and Clarke. Scouts attended agent-driven workouts across the country in recent days.
What they have not done is work out any realistic players with the ninth pick in mind at their practice facility.
Monday’s pre-draft session is Washington’s sixth in Ward 8. Only second-round targets and likely undrafted free agents have come through. Kentucky’s Keldon Johnson is expected to visit Wednesday, a source tells NBC Sports Washington, but projections for the small forward are typically in the 15-22 range. Same with USC guard Kevin Porter, who is expected in Washington on June 17.
One agent repping a consensus top 10 prospect told NBC Sports Washington he was not planning to send his player to Washington for a workout because of the front office uncertainty. Without knowing who ultimately decides what happens at nine, does the workout matter?
These workouts are not an overwhelming component in the pre-draft process but do provide teams a chance to learn more about the players on their turf. The Wizards have more time to get players in for that closer examination. Based on how the league currently views their options at nine, they need all the data possible before making a decision.
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, France
10. Jaxson Hayes, C, Texas
11. Nassir Little, SF, UNC
12. Goga Bitadze, C, International/Georgia
13. Rui Hachimura, PF, Gonzaga
14. Bol Bol, PF, Oregon
15. Brandon Clarke, PF, Gonzaga
16. PJ Washington, PF, Kentucky
17. Tyler Herro, SG, Kentucky
18. Romeo Langford, SG, Indiana
19. Kevin Porter Jr., SG, USC
20. Keldon Johnson, SF, Kentucky
21. Nickeil Alexander-Walker, SG, Va. Tech
22. Ty Jerome, SG, Virginia
23. Cameron Johnson, PF, UNC
24. Mfiondu Kabengele, PF, Fla. St.
25. Nicolas Claxton, C, Georgia
26. Grant Williams, PF, Tennessee
27. Bruno Fernando, C, Maryland
28. Carsen Edwards, PG, Purdue
29. Luka Samanic, PF, Croatia
30. KZ Okpala, SF, Stanford
31. Luguentz Dort, SG, Arizona State
32. Daniel Gafford, C, Arkansas
33. Eric Paschall, PF, Villanova
34. Admiral Schofield, PF, Tennessee
35. Darius Bazley, SF, USA
36. Matisse Thybulle, SF, Washington
37. Dylan Windler, SF, Belmont
38. Jalen Lecque, SG, USA
39. Louis King, SF, Oregon
40. Talen Horton-Tucker, SF, Iowa State
41. Isaiah Roby, SF, Nebraska
42. Chuma Okeke, PF, Auburn
43. Tremont Waters, PG, LSU
44. Jordan Bone, PG, Tennessee
45. Naz Reid, C, LSU
46. Terence Davis, SG, Mississippi
47. Jalen McDaniels, PF, San Diego State
48. Jontay Porter, C, Missouri
49. Ky Bowman, PG, Boston College
50. Zach Norvell, SG, Gonzaga
51. Deividas Sirvydis, F, Lithuania
52. Jaylen Hoard, F, Wake Forest
53. Shamorie Ponds, PG, St. John’s
54. Jordan Poole, SG, Michigan
55. Yovel Zoosman, F. Israel
56. Miye Oni, F, Yale
57. Brian Bowen, PF, USA
58. Ignas Brazdeikis, PF, Michigan
59. DaQuan Jeffries, SG, Tulsa
60. Cody Martin, SG, Nevada
Others: Quinndary Weatherspoon, SG, Miss. St; Dedric Lawson, F. Kansas; Marcos Louzada Silva, SF, Brazil; Terance Mann, G, Florida State; Justin Robinson, PG, Virginia Tech
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