Wizards

Get to know the 3 newest Wizards from the Westbrook trade

Wizards

Since a quarter past 8 on draft night last Thursday, Wizards fans have heard a common theme from the instant analysis of the package general manager Tommy Sheppard recouped for Russell Westbrook. 

Greater salary cap flexibility, better defenders in the rotation, and an eye towards the future were the immediate takeaways. But what about the actual players themselves? How will they fit in with the Wizards should they stay? 

Naturally, turning to an expert for the official scouting report on these three ex-Lakers in the form of LA Times Lakers beat reporter Brad Turner is a good idea. 

Here's what he had to say. 

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

It's always a plus when one of the better assets you're getting in return happens to be best buds with the franchise cornerstone. Well, Caldwell-Pope and Bradley Beal's friendship has been well-documented. But how would a potential KCP-Beal partnership work on the court, you ask? 

"KCP is a two-way player, and is really a 3-and-D guy," Turner told NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller. "When he's knocking down his 3-point shot he's very effective. He struggled at times with that shot last season, but when the Lakers won the NBA championship he was incredible shooting the three. His defense on the wing, defending ones, twos, threes -- he's exceptional doing that. So that helps someone like Bradley Beal, who doesn't have to worry about going up against those tough wing players."

 

Caldwell-Pope's 3-and-D skillset would slot in nicely with Beal, and the point of his ability to take some of the tougher two guard matchups on the defensive end is an important one for a Wizards team that has ranked dead last and second-to-last, respectively, in opponent points per game the last two seasons. He also ran some point in lineups where LeBron James sat with the Lakers, a role in which new Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. could employ as well. 

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Kyle Kuzma

Kuzma's play his first couple seasons in Los Angeles solidified him as an untraceable asset in the Anthony Davis deal, but has since become a bit more polarizing. 

Now with Washington, could Kuzma return to form? His work ethic to improve on the defensive side of the ball last year could be just what Unseld Jr. and company need. 

"Kyle Kuzma is someone starting to come into his own. He had a little struggles in the playoffs and I'm guessing it may be because he might be a little bit tired, the whole team looked that way, but he can score the basketball," Turner said. "And the one thing I really like about Kyle Kuzma: He got better on defense...So instead of him falling back and saying I accept I can't be great defensively, he decided to get better on defense."

Kuzma has hovered around scoring just under 13 ppg the past couple seasons with the Gold and Purple, but produced a solid 18.7 ppg his sophomore season. He's upped his 3-point shooting numbers in both those seasons up to 36%, a trend Sheppard will hope continues. 

Montrezl Harrell

Before the Wizards acquired Daniel Gafford mid-season, they lacked a rim-running presence to pair alongside Rui Hachimura. Though undersized, Harrell has made a career out of proving people wrong with sheer effort and eye-popping athleticism. 

The 2020 NBA Sixth Man of the Year while with the Clippers has also added a nice scoring touch from the block. 

"And we all know that Montrezl Harrell gets buckets," Turner said. "Montrezl Harrell is full of energy and if you don't watch out he will bounce right on your head and have the hair going back and forth so you can taste a little bit of that too."

For a franchise in need of added athleticism and better defense, these three provide just that.