Wizards

Dosunmu would give Wizards depth as combo guard

Wizards

The Washington Wizards are picking squarely in the middle of the first round of the 2021 NBA Draft. Whether Washington trades up, down or stays firm at No. 15, here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who the Wizards could consider selecting.

2021 NBA Draft Prospect Preview: Ayo Dosunmu

School/team: Illinois

Position: Guard

Age: 21

Height: 6-5

Weight: 194

Wingspan: 6-10

2020/21 stats: 28 G, 20.1 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 5.3 apg, 1.1 spg, 0.2 bpg, 48.8 FG% (7.5/15.4), 39.0 3PT% (1.1/2.9), 78.3 FT%

Player comparison: Josh Hart, Bruce Brown

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 22nd, Sports Illustrated 24th, Ringer 25th, NBADraft.net 17th, Bleacher Report 26th

5 things to know:

-Dosunmu is a combo guard with a versatile skill set, good size for his position and plus-athleticism. He scores, rebounds and defends. At the NBA Combine, he came in at 6-foot-5 with a 6-foot-10 wingspan and a 39-inch vertical leap. He has a quick first step and a good feel around the rim once he gets into the paint. Dosunmu has considerable upside as a scorer.

-The word 'versatile' applies to Dosunmu to a different degree than most. The numbers he put up this past season at Illinois are pretty rare. Going back to 1992-93, the extent of Basketball Reference's search database, only four players have averaged 20-plus points, 6-plus rebounds and 5-plus assists per game in a single season. Penny Hardaway and Evan Turner are two of the other three.

 

-Dosunmu's shooting is interesting to evaluate given the unusual trajectory of his numbers in college. His three-point percentage dropped from his freshman year to his sophomore year, then jumped from 29.6% to 39.0% from his sophomore season to his junior season. And each year, he attempted fewer threes, which is not common as players often get more comfortable as their careers transpire. Dosunmu also has a unique release on his shot. It's not low or mechanically flawed necessarily, but it's not a quick or smooth motion. Whichever team drafts him may want to tinker with it.

-He is an excellent rebounder for his size and position. Dosunmu averaged 6.3 rebounds per game and 7.2 rebounds per-40 minutes. For a comparison, Russell Westbrook averaged 3.9 rebounds per game and 4.6 per-40 minutes his last year in college.

-Dosunmu won a gold medal playing for the United States U-18 team at the 2018 FIBA Americas championship. 

Fit with Wizards:

At first glance, some may wonder why a combo guard would be an ideal fit for the Wizards in the first round when they have Westbrook and Bradley Beal and therefore no clear path to starting anytime soon. But when you're picking 15th, and have expectations of making the playoffs, it's unlikely you will find a plug-and-play starter at 15th, anyways. The best-case scenario is probably someone who can contribute to the rotation relatively soon, but who can develop into a starter long-term.

Dosunmu would likely check off those boxes. He's 21 years old, experienced, well-rounded and has an NBA-ready frame, which suggests he could find minutes early on as a backup guard, perhaps at both point guard and shooting guard behind Westbrook and Beal.

Over time, maybe he positions himself to take over for Westbrook, who is under contract for two more years and is set to enter his Age 33 season. Really, the Wizards can think in those terms with this pick given Westbrook's age and given a lot of the prospects they are evaluating are super young. If the Wizards had a starter in waiting, it would give them more options when it comes to Westbrook as he nears the end of his deal.

In the immediate future, Dosunmu would add scoring to the bench and the potential for strong perimeter defense and rebounding. The scoring part is big, as the Wizards could use more players who can take pressure off of Beal and Westbrook. They relied heavily on Davis Bertans to provide a scoring punch off the bench and he wasn't able to do that consistently enough. More players who can go off for 20-plus points like Bertans would increase the odds it happens from night to night.

Dosunmu is being projected by most mock drafts to go later in the first round than where the Wizards are set to pick, but they could justify taking him given his high floor as a prospect and how he could help them both in the short- and long-term.