While much of the public discussion on the Wizards for the 2020 draft is which direction the team will go with the ninth overall pick, there is more than one prospect that will be joining the team this offseason.
After their lottery pick, the next big choice for Washington will be with their selection at the No. 37 spot.
As had been discussed ad nauseam. this year's draft isn't the typical crop of athletes. The star power at the top is limited and then there is a pretty significant drop-off after the top prospects go off the board. However, there are always quality players that can build out the depth of an organization in later rounds.
This year there is not much difference from the late first-round picks to those that will likely go in the second round. The quality of players stays consistent and is mixed based on team needs. There are young projects from overseas, experienced four-year college players and everything in-between for teams to choose from. As could be the case after the first 10 picks or so this season, teams utilize their second-round pick, typically, for the best fit that goes into their system and could be molded.
No franchise knows that diamonds can be found in the rough than the Wizards and getting one of their best players in the past 20 years in Gilbert Arenas.
For Washington, there are two key directions many anticipate they will go in the draft. Either the Wizards will finally get the rim-protector and rebounder that has been needed over the past several years or find a young point guard prospect. With some uncertainty around John Wall's health and him entering his age 30 season, finding his backup or eventual heir apparent is something that needs to be addressed at some point.
Assuming Washington goes in one of those paths with their first pick, it would be fair to guess they go the opposite with pick No. 37.
Here are some notable players that would fit those molds.
Jalen Smith (6-10, PF/C, Maryland)
Of all the players on this list, Jalen Smith will likely go off the board sometime in the first round. As the draft nears, his draft stock has risen higher and higher seemingly as each week goes by. As a stretch-four who showed promise with his perimeter game, he could be a hot commodity. The biggest knock on him is that is not how he was used while with the Terrapins where he primarily played as a center.
Smith has already interviewed with the Wizards and thinks he would be a great fit if drafted by his hometown team. The team does need a certified rim protector and rebounder, plus his abilities fit the up-tempo pace that Scott Brooks employs. Smith could play at the four or be a center in a small-ball lineup. But if Washington goes the Precious Achuiwa or Onyeka Okongwu route with their ninth pick, they likely will be looking elsewhere to fill out their roster.
Immanuel Quickley (6-3, G, Kentucky)
Quickley is another player Washington interviewed early on in the draft process. Unlike Smith, Quickley has trended down on mock drafts as of late and could be a nice steal if he's available when the Wizards are picking.
In college, Quickley played in both spots on the backcourt. His biggest asset is his 3-point game where he averaged 4.8 attempts per game at a 42.8% clip. Offensive comparisons are that of Isaiah Thomas when he was with the Celtics as a phenomenal bench scorer and deep threat. Quickley's defensive game though is far superior to that of Thomas.
For years, Kentucky guards have been undervalued in the draft and exceeded expectations. But after the success of Tyler Herro and Jamal Murray in the NBA Bubble, will that continue?
Markus Howard (5-11, G, Marquette)
All four years of Markus Howard's collegiate career were impressive. He started as a freshman and quickly became one of the best scorers in the country. Twice he was named a consensus All-American and earned the Big East's Player of the Year honor in 2019.
The Wizards interviewed Howard recently and he could be an ideal second-round target. While he's small in stature and a couple of years in age past his fellow draft prospects, he brings a great scoring presence to a team that desperately needs a spark off the bench. He is, however, a volume shooter (10 attempted threes per game) and might have a high-ceiling but low-floor impact in the league.
Cassius Winston (6-1, G, Michigan State)
Of the players on this list, Cassius Winston is the last that is a reported interviewee by the Wizards. Winston made himself a household name with the Spartans and delivered numerous performances that show he can perform at the next level.
One benefit that the four-year point guard has is that he is seasoned, with a high IQ and leadership skills that head coach Tom Izzo once said was the best he has ever coached. In such an odd offseason and limited prep (no NBA Combine or Summer League), Winston could be an ideal rookie to plug and play for the 2020-21 season.
Udoka Azubuike (7-0, C, Kansas)
While the NBA is moving away from a player of Udoka Azubuike's skill set, he is one of the best traditional centers in the class. He averaged a double-double his senior season and certainly would fix some of the Wizards' interior woes.
The amount of attention he draws will certainly open up the plethora of shooters Washington has. If left open, he is also a huge physical specimen that could overpower many NBA players on offense and defense. Don't expect him to expand his game though like you'll see from other project big-men. Not once did he attempt a 3-pointer and his collegiate career free throw percentage is 41.6%.
Killian Tillie (6-10, PF, Gonzaga)
Killian Tillie's arc at Gonzaga was a wild ride for those that followed along closely. No matter what, Tillie delivered. He scored and his team won. As a bench player, a starter, a starer-turned-bench player, and recovering from injuries he always had an impact.
Now, Tillie doesn't necessarily have a history in the role Washington would need him to be as the defacto biggest player on the court. He would give up size to centers in the league, but be a mismatch as a player that could stretch it out to beyond the arc.
He is risky though to use a draft pick on as he has had knee surgery, a torn ligament in his foot, a stress fracture in his ankle, a broken finger and a hip pointer all in the past four seasons. Take the injuries away and many would have him as a solid first-round pick.
Tyler Bey (6-7, G/F, Colorado)
Length and athleticism from the wing is one area the Wizards have lacked of late. Enter Tyler Bey would is one of the explosive second-round prospects not many are talking about. He does, of course, have his limitations as a ballhandler and as a passer. But put him in a lineup with potentially Wall and Bradley Beal handling all of those duties and he could be a great element added to Washington's offense.
That is assuming he can work himself up to a role with the starters. Tough to see it happening out of the gates, but a ton of potential and his defensive abilities could be the best on the roster.