We may not know how the 2020 NBA Draft will be conducted, but we do know what the Wizards should be looking for when it is.
Because as much as the coronavirus hiatus has affected the league, it hasn't really changed offseason priorities for teams from a roster-building perspective. The trade deadline had already passed and teams were moving forward with what they had.
And given the draft happens before free agency, it's not too early to look at what those needs are given they essentially will not change. Here is a glance at what the Wizards need most with the draft in mind...
The Wizards' biggest need this offseason is the same one they have had for a long, long time, arguably since Nene left and maybe even since the days of Brendan Haywood. For years, it has become a copy-and-paste deal as the Wizards have struggled defensively and at the rim more than anywhere.
The problem is that finding rim protectors is very difficult in today's NBA. The rules favor offense, many teams are looking for them and the ones that have them don't let them go. The Wizards have had some epic swings-and-misses in trying to find one between Ian Mahinmi, Dwight Howard and others.
And as much as not having a shot-blocker has hurt the Wizards in recent years, that could be compounded next season when John Wall returns from his ruptured Achilles. It would be smart to shore up the back-end of the defense so they can ask less of Wall, who will have his hands full staying in front of lightning quick point guards on a surgically-repaired leg.
It's also a challenge to find players who can help with rim protection right away. In the last 10 years, only nine players have averaged 1.5 blocks or more per game as rookies. It usually takes some time for even the best shot-blockers to adjust to NBA athletes and rules before they find success in that area. That has even applied to guys like Rudy Gobert and Giannis Antetokounmpo, who each averaged fewer than one block per game as rookies.
Still, it wouldn't hurt to try. The Wizards haven't drafted a guy with rim-protector potential since Jan Vesely in 2011. He actually became one, just in Europe and not for them.
Again, another need the Wizards have had for years. No, you're not reading an article from 2016.
And just like rim protection, this is going to be more important once Wall returns, especially when you consider the core they are building around. The Wizards have Wall at point guard and a host of players for whom offense is the name of their game between Bradley Beal, Rui Hachimura, Davis Bertans and Thomas Bryant. Beal has shown more defensively than the others, but as we've seen this season he can't do as much on that end of the floor when he's carrying the brunt of the offense.
Also, when you watch the Wizards sometimes it's hard not to notice the lack of physical play on the perimeter. It is really apparent when they play teams like the Clippers and Celtics.
The Wizards also have a greater need at small forward than any other position with no long-term solution in place. Hachimura could develop into more of a three, but right now he fits best at the four. They have some young talent in Troy Brown Jr. and Isaac Bonga, but not enough where it couldn't be boosted.
Last year, the Wizards went for guys with high floors, ones that had played several years in college and offered some safety in their selections. Hachimura and second round pick Admiral Schofield were fairly sure bets when the Wizards could have taken chances on boom-or-bust players like Cam Reddish and Bol Bol.
They did well with picking Hachimura, and that approach was perfectly understandable at the time given the organization's overhaul last summer and the fact general manager Tommy Sheppard was still operating with an interim tag. He wasn't in position to take any chances.
But this time around, as he admitted himself, could be different. And given the Wizards' salary cap future, it would be smart to collect some lottery tickets that could transform the team's future in ways they can't really pull off through free agency without big money to spend.
Often times the high-ceiling, raw potential players fizzle out quickly. But sometimes they turn into Pascal Siakam or Donovan Mitchell and alter the course of a franchise signficantly. Getting players that outperform their contracts will be pivotal for the Wizards to make all of this work with Wall and Beal's salaries on the books.
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