If Wizards draw 9th or 10th pick, Okongwu stands out most

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NBC Sports Washington is looking at four different scenarios for the Wizards as they prepare for Thursday night's draft lottery; the No. 1 pick, picks 2-4, picks 9-10 and picks 11-13. We ran the lottery numbers 50 times and made projections...

The scenario: Wizards land either the 9th or 10th pick

Real odds: 76.2% (50.7% for No. 9, 25.9% for No. 10)

Simulation: 36 out of 50 draws (24 times at No. 9, 12 times at No. 10)


Outlook: Last year, when the Wizards got the ninth overall pick, it was essentially a worst-case scenario based on their lottery odds. This year, if it happens it will mean the ping-pong drawing went as expected as they have by far a better chance to pick ninth than anywhere else. Their second-highest likelihood is to pick 10th.

If that is how it shakes out this time around, and the Wizards pick in the back-end of the top-10, then the top prospects will all be off the board. That means no shot at Anthony Edwards (Georgia), James Wiseman (Memphis) or LaMelo Ball (Illawarra). It also probably means no chance to draft Tyrese Haliburton (Iowa State) or Deni Avdija (Israel).

The rest of the board is fairly nebulous. But if the Wizards are picking ninth or 10th, a few players are expected to fall in that range. They include Obi Toppin (Dayton), Killian Hayes (France), Onyeka Okongwu (USC), Isaac Okoro (Auburn), Devin Vassell (Florida State) and Precious Achiuwa (Memphis).


If the Wizards end up going the route they did last year with Rui Hachimura, where they took a player few thought would go that high, maybe guys like Cole Anthony (UNC) or Patrick Williams (FSU) come into play. As you can see, picking ninth or 10th would bring a wide range of possibilities.


The picks: For the purpose of this exercise, let's set the board. The Wizards are picking ninth and gone are Wiseman, Edwards, Ball, Haliburton, Avdija, Toppin, Hayes and Okoro. If that's how things shake out, the Wizards would actually find themselves in a decent spot. Some of the best players remaining would also fill several needs.

Okongwu and Vassell would definitely stand out among the players left over. Both project to be best on the defensive end, where the Wizards are sorely lacking.

Okongwu is a rim protector who averaged 16.2 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game in college. Vassell is a wing defender and three-point threat who averaged 12.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.4 steals. He shot 41.5 percent from three.

If the Wizards pick ninth, Okongwu makes the most sense. The Wizards need both rim-protection and rebounding and if he were on the floor, he could offset the shortcomings of Hachimura and Bryant in those areas. Okongwu would anchor their defensive middle and, on offense, he could clean up the paint while Bryant and Hachimura roam.

If the Wizards pick 10th and Okongwu is off the board, they can go with Vassell who would give them a lengthy perimeter defender and another shooter to put around John Wall and Bradley Beal. Vassell could develop into a player not unlike Otto Porter Jr. was for them, but with a higher defensive ceiling.

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