Which direction the Washington Wizards chose to go with their first-round pick in the 2020 NBA Draft is of much contention. Do they draft a big-man to fill out the post or do they chose one of the many, young talented point guards that are littered to go in the first round?
The team's biggest immediate needs that should be addressed this offseason are clearly in the frontcourt. They were the third-worst rebounding team in the league and had one of the worst defensive ratings as well. With the Wizards current crop of talent and John Wall coming back, that could be the difference that gets them into the playoffs.
However, this draft is filled with point guards which could be very enticing for a team with any uncertainty at one of the most important positions in the game. Many of these prospects are dynamic and versatile at the one or two positions.
Wall's injury concerns and history are of course why there is any question on this topic. Wall has not suited up for a game since Dec. 2018 and just turned 30 this month. The Wizards and Wall are both encouraged that he will come back as good, if not better, than before the injury. Still, he's not getting any younger and his health will remain a question mark until he plays a significant number of games without issue.
Whether it's as an insurance policy or the eventual successor to Wall's spot in the rotation, it makes sense for why the Wizards might look at PG. Of course, that is on top of the tantalizing crop of options this season.
Below are the best options that will be available for the team if they chose to go that route in the first round. This is assuming LaMelo Ball and Tyrese Haliburton will be off the board. Analysis is from NBC Sports Washington's Chase Hughes and Tyler Byrum.
Killian Hayes - Draft Profile
Team: Ulm (France) Position: Guard Age: 19 Height: 6-5 Weight: 215 Wingspan: 6-8
2019/20 stats: 10 G, 26.8 mpg, 12.8 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 6.2 apg, 1.5 spg, 0.2 bpg, 45.5 FG% (4.6/10.1), 39.0 3PT% (1.6/4.1), 90.9 FT%
Player comparison: Goran Dragic, Malcolm Brogdon
Fit with Wizards: Of the prospects that will still be on the board at No. 9, Hayes is one of the few that projects to be a potential franchise player down the line.
Hayes seems like he would be able to play with both Wall and Bradley Beal and maybe even at the same time in three-guard lineups. Assuming Hayes is indeed 6-foot-5 as he is listed, he would be the tallest of the three and possibly be able to serve as the three on defense. And his shooting ability and play-making versatility indicate he could be effective both on and off the ball.
Also, given the Wizards' current state, they really can't afford to pass on a potentially great player just because he isn't a perfect positional fit. They need to take the best player available, even if there could be a playing time conundrum down the road.
It is an extreme example, but one we were recently reminded of in 'The Last Dance' documentary about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls: the Blazers didn't take Jordan in part because they already had Clyde Drexler. Drexler was a great player, but not as good as Jordan.
That's not to compare Hayes to Jordan, but also Wall and Beal aren't as good as Drexler. What if Hayes actually is the next Harden? If the Wizards feel that way, then the presence of Wall and Beal should be a secondary concern. - Hughes
Tyrese Maxey - Draft Profile
Team: Kentucky Position: Guard Age: 19 Height: 6-3 Weight: 198 Wingspan: 6-6
2019/20 stats: 31 G, 34.5 mpg, 14.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.2 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.4 bpg, 42.7 FG% (4.8/11.3), 29.2 3PT% (1.1/3.6), 83.3 FT%
Player comparison: Kyle Lowry, less-accurate Tyler Herro
Fit with Wizards: The Wizards have to assume they already have their version of Maxey in Beal and Troy Brown Jr. Playmaking off-the-ball guards who also have a background as facilitators. There are much bigger areas of need for the team, especially in the post.
Still, a team can never have too many competent ballhandlers that can score and at Kentucky, Maxey was rotated into the point guard role among several other competent stars. Maxey would just add another piece to where Washington already has a strength.
He would be an improvement for the Wizards' defensive efforts. Maxey has a high basketball IQ that makes him a phenomenal off-ball defender. However, he is limited in how he cannot guard well enough outside of the guard position.
Like many of the other top-end lottery prospects, he could likely contribute from day one and make the roster for the new season. Assuming Beal and Wall are relied on in the same capacity from Scott Brooks though, Maxey would be buried down the depth chart. A lot of his offensive upside is dependent on his touches because his numbers don't exactly jump off the page. Washington would likely want him to shore up his shooting motion as well before giving him meaningful minutes. - Byrum
Cole Anthony - Draft Profile
Team: North Carolina Position: Guard Age: 20 Height: 6-3 Weight: 190 Wingspan: 6-5
2019/20 stats: 22 G, 34.9 mpg, 18.5 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 4.0 apg, 1.3 spg, 0.3 bpg, 38.0 FG% (6.0/15.7), 34.8 3PT% (2.2/6.4), 75.0 FT%
Player comparison: Kemba Walker, Shabazz Napier
Fit with Wizards: Anthony might be easier to mesh with Wall and Beal than others would because of the style he plays. He figures to be effective off the ball with his 3-point shot and, though he's probably too small to pair with both Wall and Beal in three-guard lineups, should be able to co-exist with either of them individually. Even with Wall, Anthony could play the two on offense and take the point guard assignment on defense.
If the Wizards took Anthony, they could start him out as a microwave scorer off the bench. Though sometimes that is a difficult transition for rookies, Anthony has the tools to be good at it. He would bring a different element with his energy, handle and range.
Ultimately, what Anthony amounts to is a bit of a boom-or-bust prospect. The ceiling appears high, maybe like a Kemba Walker-type scoring guard. But players like that often times level out as a Trey Burke or Shabazz Napier, two guys Wizards fans know well.
On the face of it, the Wizards seem likely to find a better fit for them than Anthony in this draft. Though he isn't as redundant style-wise as other prospects, he also doesn't seem to offer enough potential for them to overlook the drawbacks. - Hughes
RJ Hampton - Draft Profile
Team: New Zealand Breakers Position: Guard Age: 19 Height: 6-5 Weight: 185 Wingspan: 6-7
2019/20 stats: 15 G, 20.6 mpg, 8.8 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 3.9 apg, 1.1 spg, 0.3 bpg, 40.7 FG% (3.3/8.2), 29.5 3PT% (0.9/2.9), 67.9 FT%
Player comparison: Dante Exum, O.J. Mayo
Fit with Wizards: Hampton is not among the top tier of guards in this year's class but does offer a mid-round option for a team to take a chance on a playmaker that already has shooting fundamentals. While he is most likely going to be used as a player in a SG role, he does have a background running the point and will be called upon to do so in some fashion.
Likely he is a depth piece, which is not what Washington needs with their first-round pick. Even from a preparedness level, Hampton might need a year or two to fully develop into his frame and to improve his shooting numbers.
Given his inaccuracies, his hip injury and limited NBL success, drafting Hampton does not appear to be a smart move for the Wizards with the uncertainty on how he will project out.
That is not to say Hampton cannot be a successful pro. The Nuggets took a similar chance on Michael Porter Jr., who was coming off a back injury when he was drafted in 2018, and is now a star of their team. Both Porter and Hampton saw marginal success and tough injuries in the year before the draft. They also are highly regarded high school prospects that are well known among the scouting community.
Hampton may not be a quick answer for the upcoming season. However, the Wizards could see him becoming a key bench piece in the future. - Byrum
Jahmi'us Ramsey - Draft Profile
Team: Texas Tech Position: Guard Age: 19 Height: 6-4 Weight: 195 Wingspan: 6-6
2019/20 stats: 27 G, 31.2 mpg, 15.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.2 apg, 1.3 spg, 0.7 bpg, 44.2 FG% (5.5/12.4), 42.6 3PT% (2.2/5.2), 64.1 FT%
Player comparison: Sam Dekker, less explosive Donovan Mitchell
Fit with Wizards: Some see Ramsey filling into a variety of roles for a team, as a point guard, shooting guard or a smaller wing. This could be encouraging for the Wizards wanting to invest in a player that possesses versatility and is still young enough to mold into a system.
The depth of the guard/ wing combination is slowly growing for Washington. The team has added Troy Brown Jr., Jerome Robinson, Ish Smith and Isaac Bonga over the past couple of seasons. Ramsey would be on the smaller end of that depth chart but provide shooting and solid positional defense. Even in his first year, he would push for minutes against that group.
What makes him more enticing than perhaps other prospect options around his draft stock is his 3-point ability. Every team needs a bench perimeter option to provide a spark, as he would be unlikely to be in a small lineup alongside Wall and Beal.
His youth will allow the Wizards to get younger as well as the team only has two rostered players under 22. And while Ramsey is young he is a more than capable defender. He can generate new possessions off of steals and even blocked shots against his matchups.
Ramsey would be a part of a development plan for Washington and could be an integral piece when it comes to building their future. - Byrum