After months of scouting games, watching game tape, conducting interviews and holding workouts, one should logically expect some semblance of order with a given year’s draft class.
That simply won’t occur in 2019. Get past the likely top three picks -- Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, R.J. Barrett -- and anything is possible.
Over and over that is the position of numerous NBA sources heading into Thursday’s NBA Draft in which the Wizards select ninth overall.
“This draft is pretty unique,” said a Western Conference scout in recent days. “There are a few outliers and then the draft could really, really go in any direction. It’s really an eye of the beholder draft.”
In other words, after those top three, consensus doesn’t exist. Teams will surely add help and some prospects will ultimately turn into viable starters and perhaps more, but in June of 2019, there isn’t much love for the 2019 group especially in the lottery range.
There’s a general agreement within public mock drafts in terms of the five players after Barrett, but the order comes out in a variety of ways. Some observers see little difference between picks 4-12 while others view 9-22 comparable.
That anything-is-possible vibe has some believing more than the usual amount of trades occurring. One already went down, though the Pelicans adding the fourth overall selection wasn’t exactly the main point of Saturday’s deal with the Lakers involving Anthony Davis.
Yet the main reason behind all the anything-is-possible talk stems from several teams simply not loving the options especially in the top half of the draft. Therefore, why trade up if the player available in teens is comparable to the candidates at nine?
The same logic applies for the team holding the ninth pick. For the Wizards, the general hope is one player they truly desire slides to them or some team that covets a prospect is willing to pay a premium for a trade up.
Stay put and even without a shocker ahead of them, the Wizards can help their cause. Not with an obvious slam dunk selection, but in specific areas, eventually, hopefully.
This year, anything seems possible.
As stated above, projecting who goes where and the preferences of each team, especially in this era of positionless basketball, is a true challenge. Before getting into some league-wide notes, here are some educated guesses for the Wizards.
The rebounder: Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga. There might not a better selection for addressing numerous areas than the athletic 6-foot-8 power forward with a 7-foot-2 wingspan.
The Wizards currently lack a true forward on the roster. This one brings three years of collegiate experience.
The 21-year-old Hachimura led Gonzaga with 19.7 points and 6.5 rebounds last season while shooting 41.7 percent on his 3-point attempts.
The Japanese native lacks upside compared to some other candidates and there are concerns about his basic hoops instincts. There have also been long-running whispers of interest from Washington.
The defender: Sekou Doumbouya, France. The still maturing 6-foot-9 forward with good size and length showed off his freaky athleticism in France's top league. As the youngest player in the 2019 class, Doumbouya will need more than a minute to find his footing and develop his perimeter shot, but his physical traits and defensive versatility match the direction of the modern NBA.
The polarizing upside: Cam Reddish, Duke. Reddish goes third on this list even though the likelihood is, based on year-long player projections, he becomes the pick if available. While it seems doubtful he falls past eight, Reddish feels like the one heralded prospect who could take a tumble on draft night.
The 6-foot-8 forward turned into a clanky 3-point shooter around mid-February and often faded late in games. While his perimeter stroke is pretty, Reddish struggled significantly around the rim. Yet his athletic fluidity is ideal. Combined with strong measurables (7-foot-1 wingspan) there is plenty to like. Where he lands in terms of team culture feels like a huge key to unlocking the potential vs. bringing out the worst.
Considering all the variables, Reddish represents a big test for the league's talent evaluators -- All-Star level talent or underachiever?
The scorer: Keldon Johnson, Kentucky. The likely wing threats available in the 9-22 range epitomize the risk-reward aspect in this class. Despite specific concerns, Nassir Little (raw instincts), Romeo Langford (27 percent on 3’s), Kevin Porter (undisciplined) and Tyler Herro (short wingspan) could all hear their names called before Johnson and with good reason due to their intriguing potential.
Meanwhile, the UK product offers hope with impressive athletic traits and a 38.1 percent clip on 3-pointers during his freshman season. On the other side, Johnson lacks playmaking skills; he averaged 1.6 assists in 31 minutes per game.
Nine seems high based on perception, but Johnson might be the prospect who turns out more coveted by teams than public big boards. While his range is considered 10-20, sources feel Johnson goes somewhere 15 or higher. Potential target if the Wizards trade down.
The high floor: P.J. Washington, Kentucky. Washington’s profile lacks the wow factor compared to the names listed above. What the sophomore offers is a steadier baseline in numerous areas including rebounding, defending, 3-point shooting and maturity. All of that comes with a 7-foot-3 wingspan. If the Wizards go safe rather than star chasing, Washington makes sense especially if they move down in the first.
*The feeling around the league is a lottery-picking team has made a draft promise to Hachimura with Minnesota the likely spot. That’s assuming the 4-man gets past the Wizards.
*For those of you wanting Oregon’s Bol Bol at nine, I hear you based on the height (7-foot-3), length and impressive perimeter shooting. Some of Bol’s game tape is wildly mesmerizing. The downside, however, ranging from his weight (208 at the Combine) to the injury risk to an inconsistent motor to defensive concerns beyond shot blocking, seems a bit much for the Wizards’ situation. Also not hearing much about a landing spot in the lottery, but subterfuge is real this time of year.
*Interesting that North Carolina guard Coby White worked out for the Wizards Monday considering most projections have him off the board by seven. Say Reddish goes before White and the scoring threat remains available at eight. Do the Hawks, already loaded with Trae Young and Kevin Huerter, go elsewhere? That’s one way White could fall to nine.
*Speaking of promises, University of Washington wing Matisse Thybulle received one in the first round according to multiple sources and... Arkansas center Daniel Gafford to a team in the 17-23 range?
That would be quite a jump for Gafford based on public projections; NBCSW ranks him 31, Sports Illustrated 36 and ESPN 40. If true, the best guess among those teams is...Atlanta at 17? The Hawks need a center. This approach would allow them to take the best available at 8 (Reddish?) and 10 (Doumbouya?).
*Georgia center Nic Claxton, slotted 21st on the NBCSW Big Board, is receiving interest from teams picking in teens.
On to the main event...
2019 NBA Draft Big Board (with tiers)
5. Jarrett Culver, SG, Texas Tech
6. Darius Garland, PG, Vanderbilt
11. Nassir Little, SF, UNC
14. Keldon Johnson, SF, Kentucky
15. PJ Washington, PF, Kentucky
17. Goga Bitadze, C, International/Georgia
18. Tyler Herro, SG, Kentucky
19. Kevin Porter Jr., SG, USC
20. Romeo Langford, SG, Indiana
21. Nicolas Claxton, C, Georgia
22. Nickeil Alexander-Walker, SG, Va. Tech
23. Cameron Johnson, PF, UNC
24. Mfiondu Kabengele, PF, Fla. St.
26. Luka Samanic, PF, Croatia
27. Matisse Thybulle, SF, Washington
28. KZ Okpala, SF, Stanford
29. Grant Williams, PF, Tennessee
30. Daniel Gafford, C, Arkansas
32. Carsen Edwards, PG, Purdue
33. Luguentz Dort, SG, Arizona State
34. Eric Paschall, PF, Villanova
35. Darius Bazley, SF, USA
36. Jordan Bone, PG, Tennessee
37. Dylan Windler, SF, Belmont
38. Admiral Schofield, PF, Tennessee
39. Jalen Lecque, SG, USA
40. Talen Horton-Tucker, SF, Iowa State
41. Louis King, SF, Oregon
42. Isaiah Roby, SF, Nebraska
43. Chuma Okeke, PF, Auburn
44. Tremont Waters, PG, LSU
45. Naz Reid, C, LSU
46. Terence Davis, SG, Mississippi
47. Jalen McDaniels, PF, San Diego State
48. Jontay Porter, C, Missouri
49. Ky Bowman, PG, Boston College
50. Zach Norvell, SG, Gonzaga
51. Deividas Sirvydis, F, Lithuania
52. Jaylen Hoard, F, Wake Forest
53. Shamorie Ponds, PG, St. John’s
54. Jordan Poole, SG, Michigan
55. Yovel Zoosman, F. Israel
56. Miye Oni, F, Yale
57. Brian Bowen, PF, USA
58. Ignas Brazdeikis, PF, Michigan
59. DaQuan Jeffries, SG, Tulsa
60. Cody Martin, SG, Nevada
Others: Quinndary Weatherspoon, SG, Miss. St; Dedric Lawson, F. Kansas; Marcos Louzada Silva, SF, Brazil; Terance Mann, G, Florida State; Justin Robinson, PG, Virginia Tech
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