The Washington Wizards are likely to have a lottery pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select...
2020 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: James Wiseman
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%
Player comparison: David Robinson, Mitchell Robinson
Projections: NBC Sports Washington 1st, Sports Illustrated 2nd, Ringer 7th, NBADraft.net 4th, Bleacher Report 7th
5 things to know:
*In a class loaded with point guards and combo guards, Wiseman stands out as the best center on the board. He's got great size at 7-foot-1 and is a uniquely gifted athlete, even for a top NBA Draft prospect. But his skill set is fairly raw as he doesn't have a reliable jump shot or play-making ability. His likely path towards success will involve a simple role early on as a rebounder, rim-runner and rim-protector. Over time, how he develops his offensive repertoire will determine if he reaches his All-Star potential.
*Wiseman played only three games at Memphis due to an NCAA recruiting scandal where he allegedly took money from a booster. It was an unfortunate saga which Wiseman described as "heartbreaking" and it left NBA teams with little data to evaluate him on. Of the three games he played, one was against South Carolina State and another against Illinois-Chicago, not exactly powerhouse schools. The one major program he faced was Oregon. NBA teams will also not have the ability to host Wiseman for private workouts given the league's hiatus. That means they will have to rely more on his high school and AAU game tape than they might otherwise.
*He played college ball for former NBA star Penny Hardaway. He and Hardaway go way back as Wiseman played for him in the AAU ranks as well. And Hardaway was part of the scandal that lost his eligibility with an incident that involved moving costs. Still, whichever team drafts Wiseman, expect to hear from Hardaway on his prized pupil.
*Wiseman has drawn praise for being very smart. He is fluent in Mandarin Chinese and has broad and specific plans for off-court business ventures. If he can learn Chinese, he should be able to pick up basketball concepts and master a playbook.
*Wiseman has drawn many comparisons to NBA Hall of Famer David Robinson because of his build, his style of play and the fact he's left-handed. That may seem like a lofty parallel, but NBC Sports Washington's Tony Massenburg has even mentioned it himself and he played with Robinson in San Antonio.
Fit with Wizards: From a position and team need perspective, at first glance Wiseman may be the best fit of any player in this draft for the Washington Wizards. They desperately need rim protection and rebounding and those are the things he does best. And if he were added to their roster, he would fit nicely at the center spot.
With John Wall, Bradley Beal and Rui Hachimura carrying the load on offense, Wiseman wouldn't be asked to do much on that end of the floor. But on defense, he could develop into an anchor in the middle, someone who makes life easier for everyone else on the floor. He could help offset Hachimura's defensive limitations in the frontcourt and give Wall a security blanket as he works his way back from a serious injury.
Wiseman would also present a high ceiling in the long-term, which the Wizards could use. With so much salary committed to Wall and Beal, a budding star on a rookie contract would alter their future considerably.
Because he would fit so perfectly, if the Wizards lucked out in the lottery and got the No. 1 pick, Wiseman would probably emerge as the favorite.
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