Wizards

Wizards

The Wizards pulled off a surprising, if small, move on Friday night to ship Jason Smith to the Milwaukee Bucks along with a second round pick in a three-team deal to land Sam Dekker.

Though the intention was mostly to save money, much like their deal months ago with the Bucks involving Jodie Meeks, the Wizards brought back a prospect in the move. 

So, what exactly are the Wizards getting in Dekker?

Most may remember Dekker from his glory days at Wisconsin where he and Frank "the Tank" Kaminsky led the Badgers to the 2015 national championship game. Dekker was picked 18th overall that summer by the Rockets. 

Since, he has battled injuries and found little success in the professional ranks. He missed much of his rookie year due to back surgery and hasn't played since Nov. 5 of this season because of a left ankle sprain.

The Wizards are taking on his salary, which at $2.8 million is lower than Smith's ($5.5 million), for some luxury tax relief, about $6 million in total. But they are also taking a flier on a player who still has some decent upside. 

It's sort of like when they grabbed Chris McCullough from the Nets in the 2017 Bojan Bogdanovic deal, though obviously they will hope Dekker works out better.

Dekker is still only 24 and there are reasons why he was a first round pick. He is 6-foot-9 and, at least in theory, can shoot. This season, in a microscopic sample size of nine games, he is shooting 38.5 percent from three. 

 

He has a smooth shooting stroke, a high release point and hit a lot of big shots in college. In 2016-17, his first healthy NBA season and his only year with more than 1,000 minutes played, he shot 39.4 percent on corner threes for Houston.

The Wizards will have about two-thirds of a season to evaluate Dekker for their future. Because the Clippers picked up his fourth-year option in October, he can be a restricted free agent following this season.

That evaluation process just likely won't include much playing time at the NBA level. Smith already wasn't playing, and that was with Dwight Howard out due to injury.

The Wizards have considerable depth at forward, where Dekker plays. If Troy Brown Jr. can't get minutes, Dekker likely can't expect any.

But the Wizards could give him some time with the Capital City Go-Go. Interestingly enough, Dekker has spent very little time in the G-League in his career. He has played only seven games there, and none since 2015-16. The Wizards could send Dekker down and see what they have in him alongside Devin Robinson, another tweener forward of similar size.

With Dekker now in the fold, the Wizards are building a solid stable of young prospects, especially considering they didn't make a draft pick in 2016 or 2017.

With Dekker, they have two 2015 first-round picks (including Oubre), a 2017 second round pick in Thomas Bryant and a 2018 first round pick in Brown. 

They have varying degrees of potential, but all are 24 or younger. The Wizards have an expanding farm system, and that approach can pay off.

Bryant, for example, has exceeded expectations so far. He was acquired off of waivers from the Lakers over the summer and has since proven to be an adequate rotation player and replacement starter. He's 21 and is developing nicely.

Bryant has shown how taking a chance on a young, but high-upside player can pay dividends. Sometimes another team's castoff can turn into Hassan Whiteside or Isaiah Thomas.

The potential for Dekker is there. At the 2015 NBA Combine, he measured in at a full 6-foot-9 with a 7-foot wingspan. He had a 34.5-inch max vertical leap, not far off from Oubre's 37-inch vertical.

Dekker is also fairly good at running the floor and moving without the ball. Last season, he had the fourth average speed among qualified players. In 2016-17, he was ninth. 

Dekker may ultimately amount to nothing, but the Wizards have another low-risk, potentially high-reward prospect in their organization. Perhaps they can make something out of the guy.

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