Wizards

Wiseman leads list of best rim protectors in 2020 NBA draft

Wizards

The 2020 NBA Draft class is deeper at guard than any other position, but there is some talent to be had in the frontcourt. Teams looking for rim protection may be able to find help no matter where they are picking in the first round.

The Wizards happen to be in major need for a shot blocker, as they allowed the third-highest field goal percentage within five feet of the rim (64.6%) this season, and the second-highest clip from five-to-nine feet (43.1%).

They also have John Wall set to return from a ruptured Achillies to a team that ranked second-worst in defensive efficiency last season. Shoring up the back-end of their defense would go a long way towards helping ease his road back and also give them a chance to make the playoffs again.

With that in mind, here are the five-best rim protectors in this year's draft class...

1. James Wiseman, C, Memphis

  • Age: 19
  • Height: 7-1
  • Weight: 240
  • Wingspan: 7-6
  • 2019/20 stats: 3 G, 19.7 ppg, 10.7 rpg, 0.3 apg, 0.3 spg, 3.0 bpg, 76.9 FG% (6.7/8.7), 00.0 3PT% (0.0/0.3), 70.4 FT%

Wiseman has a chance to be the first overall pick despite only playing three games in college. He departed school due to eligibility issues and left NBA teams with little film to evaluate. But he is arguably the best athlete in this draft class at 7-foot-1 with length and hops and because of that seems safe to be a top-five pick.

Wiseman averaged three blocks per game in his short stint at Memphis. Three of them came against South Carolina State and five of them against the UIC Flames. He played one Power 5 school, Oregon, and blocked one shot. Wiseman has the physical tools to be a big-time shot blocker at the NBA level, but whether he has the instincts to match will not be easy for NBA teams to determine based on such a small sample size.

 

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2. Onyeka Okongwu, PF/C, USC

  • Age: 19
  • Height: 6-9
  • Weight: 245
  • Wingspan: 7-1
  • 2019/20 stats: 27 G, 30.6 mpg, 16.2 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 1.1 apg, 1.2 spg, 2.7 bpg, 61.6 FG% (6.3/10.1), 25.0 3PT% (0.0/0.1), 72.0 FT%

Okongwu doesn't have the hype of Wiseman, but represents a safer bet given his success at USC and his advanced approach to the game. Evaluators rave about his basketball IQ and his ability to defend the pick-and-roll, in addition to his skills blocking shots. Okongwu has been widely compared to Bam Adebayo, who has turned into an All-Star for the Miami Heat.

Mock drafts have Okongwu going everywhere from third overall to the back-end of the top-10. At this point, it would a bit surprising if he were on the board at No. 9 for the Wizards, who need a player just like him. In order to land Okongwu, Washington may have to trade up a few spots. Given how well he would fit, that is worth considering.

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3. Precious Achiuwa, PF/C, Memphis

  • Age: 20 (turns 21 in Sept.)
  • Height: 6-9
  • Weight: 225
  • Wingspan: 7-2
  • 2019/20 stats: 31 G, 30.4 mpg, 15.8 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 1.0 apg, 1.1 spg, 1.9 bpg, 49.3 FG% (5.9/11.9), 32.5 3PT% (0.4/1.3), 59.9 FT%

Achiuwa entered college as a hyped prospect and lived up to the expectations with a big freshman year at Memphis. He proved to be one of the best shot blocking/rebounding specialists in the country and also displayed an emerging offensive game that gives him intriguing potential at the next level. 

As far as rim protectors go in this class, he's third on the list but likely the best option to go between the 10th pick and the end of the first round. That particular range in the draft will offer limited options to teams looking for shot blocking. For the Wizards, taking him at No. 9 would probably represent a reach, but he would fit them perfectly given their two biggest needs are defense and rebounding. Achiuwa would help right away and give them some long-term upside.

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4. Jalen Smith, PF/C, Maryland

  • Age: 20
  • Height: 6-10
  • Weight: 225
  • Wingspan: 7-1
  • 2019/20 stats: 31 G, 31.3 mpg, 15.5 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 0.8 apg, 0.7 spg, 2.4 bpg, 53.8 FG% (5.4/10.1), 36.8 3PT% (1.0/2.8), 75.0 FT% 

Smith could represent a steal for a team picking late in the first round or early in the second round. He did everything at Maryland; score, shoot threes, rebound and block shots. Few players in this class have the type of well-rounded stat line he produced for the Terps.

The Wizards probably couldn't justify taking him ninth overall, but if they traded back into the teens, perhaps they could. If he is somehow still on the board in the second round when they are picking 37th, he would make a ton of sense. Smith profiles as a stretch-four who can rebound and protect the rim. He would fit nicely alongside Rui Hachimura and Thomas Bryant.

 

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5. Isaiah Stewart, C, Washington

  • Age: 19
  • Height: 6-9
  • Weight: 250
  • Wingspan: 7-4
  • 2019/20 stats: 32 G, 32.2 mpg, 17.0 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 0.8 apg, 0.5 spg, 2.1 bpg, 57.0 FG% (6.0/10.5), 25.0 3PT% (0.2/0.6), 77.4 FT%

Stewart put up strong numbers at Washington playing as a traditional big man who did most of his work in the lane. Though he's 6-foot-9, his plus-wingspan allows him to be a disruptor at the rim and he's a solid rebounder. Whether those skills will translate to the NBA level, though, is hard to tell given he is a bit undersized for the style he plays.

Stewart will probably have to play the four and he could have trouble against quicker, bouncier match-ups. And whether he develops an outside shot will determine his ceiling offensively. The potential is interesting, but Stewart looks like a fringe first round pick.

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