Wizards draft decisions: Isaac Okoro vs. Devin Vassell


The Wizards may find themselves selecting between two players when they are on the board with the No. 9 overall pick. Here is a compare-and-contrast look at the two best wing defenders who could potentially be available at that spot...


Age: Okoro 19 / Vassell 20 Height/weight: Okoro 6'6", 225 lbs. / Vassell 6'7", 194 lbs. Wingspan: Okoro 6'8.5" / Vassell 6'10" Key stats: Okoro 12.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 0.9 spg, 0.9 bpg, 51.4 FG%, 29.0 3PT% / Vassell 12.7 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.4 spg, 1.0 bpg, 49.0 FG%, 41.5 3PT%

The factors: The Wizards have a variety of needs, as most teams that missed the playoffs do. They badly need rim protection and rebounding, but that is not where their defensive shortcomings end. They could also use help on the wing and specifically at small forward, as there does not appear to be a clear-cut long-term solution on the roster. They have some young depth at the position, in particular with Troy Brown Jr., but could use more in-house competition at that spot, at the very least.

If the John Wall and Bradley Beal second iteration is going to work, then they could use a scrappy, defensive-minded wing to go alongside them. Enter Isaac Okoro of Auburn and Devin Vassell of Florida State. Both project as wings at the next level and each of them could help the defensive cause.

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Though they share those similarities, the two players offer differing styles. Okoro is a physical on-ball defender in the mold of a Matisse Thybulle or Lu Dort. He would provide strength and toughness with the ability to guard multiple positions. Vassell is longer and lankier than Okoro. So, he may not be as effective as on the ball early on, but his instincts and style suggest he could be a very good team defender who forces turnovers. Vassell, listed at 6-foot-7, averaged a block per game in addition to his 1.4 steals.


There are also some major differences between them on offense. While Okoro would probably help sooner defensively than Vassell, he is a much less refined offensive player. Okoro doesn't have an outside shot - he made just 29 percent of his threes - and he doesn't do much off the dribble, either, though he does possess eye-catching athleticism and the ability to play above the rim.

Vassell has a three-point shot and a better handle. He profiles well as a two-way wing, which is an attractive selling point.

The decision: It's hard to tell which of these guys would help most right away, as Vassell may be the more polished player, but the role Okoro is best-suited for early on in his NBA career is something the Wizards could offer. They don't really need scoring from that spot with Wall, Beal, Rui Hachimura, Thomas Bryant and possibly Davis Bertans -  if he re-signs - in the fold. That has the potential to be one of the best offenses in the NBA.

That group, however, also has a chance to be the worst defense in the NBA, as the Wizards arguably had this past season. So, Okoro could come in and basically just play scrappy defense and then rebound and stay out of the way on offense. Long-term, the Wizards could then hope he rounds out his offensive game and taps into his athletic upside, not unlike Jimmy Butler once did early in his career. 

Certainly, if you're picking a guy ninth, long-term you need more than a defensive specialist on the wing, unless he's the next Tony Allen. Dort is great for the Thunder, but part of his value is based on the fact he was undrafted. 

That's why Vassell could be enticing because his ceiling is likely higher offensively. A very Wizards-centric way to think of him is a mix between Otto Porter Jr. and Kelly Oubre Jr. He has the versatility and outside shot like Porter with the speed and bounce of Oubre.

Read between the lines and it seems like Vassell is the type of player the Wizards favor over someone like Okoro. Look at their last two first-round picks; Brown and Rui Hachimura. Both are heady players who offered high floors, if not sky-high ceilings athletically.

Vassell is also a shooter and general manager Tommy Sheppard could see value in adding another guy who can spread the floor around Wall, who is coming back from a major surgery and will need a strong supporting cast. Add it all up and Vassell looks like the pick between the two if the Wizards are given the choice.