Wes Unseld Jr. exhibited a muted facial expression when the Wizards were announced at No. 10 on lottery night on Tuesday. He would later say in an interview that he was “at least happy we didn’t move back” from their most likely statistical outcome of the 10th pick.
But still, the 10th overall draft pick is a little like a birthday gift from your uncle—you can hope to get something super awesome, but more often than not you’ll end up with something more utilitarian than flashy. C.J. McCollum in 2013 was like getting a motorized dirt bike, while Elfrid Payton the next year was like getting a really nice pair of socks.
This year’s NBA draft is no different. The potential franchise-changing picks like Chet Holmgren and Paolo Banchero will assuredly be off the board within the first three picks, but that’s not to say the Wizards can’t strike gold at No. 10.
Washington has a few positions of need heading into the 2022 season. Bradley Beal’s contract status is still up in the air, but the Wizards would nonetheless like to build a contender around him, their deep and talented frontcourt, and their young core on the wing. Here is one candidate at each position, 1-5, the Wizards should consider on draft night:
Point Guard: TyTy Washington, Kentucky
Washington’s biggest need this offseason, be it via the draft or a trade or free agency, is a point guard. Bradley Beal said himself a couple months ago on Wizards Postgame Live that “We need bigger guards. We need more guys who can get in the paint for us.” Enter TyTy Washington.
No, Washington doesn’t provide the towering PG size of Spencer Dinwiddie or even Tomas Satoransky at just 6-foot-3, but he has an elusive first step and elite ballhandling. His ability to penetrate down low should not only add to Washington’s paint touches and draw fouls, but could also free up more space for Beal, Kispert and others on the wing. Think Tyrese Maxey.
Shooting Guard: Dyson Daniels, G-League Ignite
NBC Sports Washington just pegged the Wizards to snag Daniels with the No. 10 overall pick, and for good reason. If adding depth behind Beal, who could be on the precipice of the franchise's largest deal ever, is the name of the game, Daniels is an ideal choice here.
At 6-foot-6 and having played against older competition in the G-League, Daniels could provide immediate 'oomph' off the bench thanks to his stellar defense (he can guard 1-4) and playmaking— two areas in which Washington have struggled mightily in recent memory. His deep shooting is not great, but his high basketball IQ and pass-first mentality could pair nicely with Washington’s bigs.
Small Forward: Bennedict Mathurin, Arizona
Mathurin is right in that sweet spot of the 8-12 range where the Wizards could snag him without needing to trade — and boy would they love to get him. He’s a big, powerful wing shooter who could be Kyle Kuzma’s successor as the high-scoring forward Washington would need down the line. He was Arizona’s highest scorer this past season off a stellar 45% shooting clip from the field.
Mathurin’s defense leaves a bit to be desired, but his catch-and-shoot ability and transition play would give the Wizards another level of offense. Don’t sleep on his tenacity in the paint, either:
Power Forward: Jeremy Sochan, Baylor
Sochan’s calling card is defense. It’s been harped on time and time again in Washington, but the team’s defense has been underwhelming since, realistically, the Randy Wittman days. Even with the defensive-minded Wes Unseld Jr. at the helm this past season, the Wizards’ team defense took a step back in 2021. Sochan could change that.
He’s an elite on-ball defender who can guard all five positions admirably and could be a great one-two punch with Beal in the pick-and-roll game. He’s also credited with a strong work ethic and is a tone-setter on both ends of the floor. Washington doesn’t really have one of those high-energy guys on the roster right now, so Sochan could step in and be a firebrand.
Center: Mark Williams, Duke
Williams’ measurements from the NBA combine are intoxicating: 7-foot-2 in shoes, 7'6.5 wingspan, 242.4 lbs with 5.4% body fat. He is a tank. Though Washington looks set at center with Kristaps Porzingis and Daniel Gafford, the former’s health inconsistency and the latter’s constant knack for getting into foul trouble make adding another piece down low an appetizing option.
Williams was just named ACC Defensive Player of the Year with Duke because he simply will not allow shots to go up in his lane. He was a major reason for Duke’s Final Four appearance. Williams is a great rebounder, versatile, and can finish at the rim. He could be a bigger version of Robert Williams III.