Wizards NBA Draft decisions: Trade up or trade down?


The Wizards may find themselves selecting between two players when they are on the board with the No. 9 overall pick. They may also face the prospect of trading down or up. Here is a compare-and-contrast look at the possibility of a draft night trade...


Factors: There is reasoning supporting both sides for the Wizards, who are at a crossroads in their roster reset with John Wall set to come back from his long Achilles rehab and Bradley Beal entering another year of his prime. The Wizards want to return to the playoffs next season and this first round pick is one of the best resources they have to improve. At the same time, general manager Tommy Sheppard has suggested the first round pick is not likely to start next year and could be a long-term development project.

The case for trading up would center around the urgency for the team to take a step forward this season and the potential to find someone who could help in a major way. USC big man Onyeka Okongwu certainly jumps out as an example, as he could help shore up their biggest weaknesses; defense and rebounding. But he may be gone a few picks before the Wizards are on the clock at No. 9. To trade up for him, the Wizards would have to feel very strongly he was the missing piece.

The argument against trading up would involve the high price that generally comes with it, as well as the precarious future of the team with Wall and Beal at the helm. There are no guarantees their reunion will work with Wall coming off a serious injury and the combined cost of both players under the salary cap. The Wizards need to be careful mortgaging their future in the event a more dramatic rebuild is forced upon them.


There are good reasons for the Wizards to explore trading back. One is the fact they do not believe that player needs to contribute right away. And by going back, the Wizards could add more picks or pieces as they aim to maintain financial flexibility long-term and build out the depth of their roster. 

The Wizards may also be convinced to trade back depending on how the board shakes out on draft night. This year's class is heavy on guards and, with Beal and Wall in the mix, the Wizards have other needs. They could find themselves on the clock with the two or three top players available all being guards.

If that's the case, moving back five or so spots could make it easier to justify taking a player who is a better positional fit. Precious Achiuwa of Memphis could fit the bill, as he is most often projected to go in the teens. Or, maybe they could go back far enough to rationalize taking Jalen Smith of Maryland. Smith would give them rim protection, rebounding and shooting, but taking him at No. 9 would be a reach as most mocks have him as a late first round pick or even in the second round.

Decision: Though Sheppard has said the Wizards are interested in trading up, it is probably a safer bet to expect them to trade down because of the state of their franchise and how each scenario would affect their future. Trading up in the draft would almost certainly cost them future picks and they need to protect their draft assets in case the Wall-Beal experiment goes south.

To go up from nine, the Wizards would probably have to put together a package similar to what the Hawks did to move up from No. 8 to No. 4 last year. They gave the Pelicans two first round picks (No. 8 and No. 17) plus a second round pick and another protected first. Atlanta also got back two second round picks, but if you give up that much, the player better become a star.

Trading down, on the other hand, could give the Wizards more draft picks which would be lower in the first round but could be used either to retool the roster with young players or as trade assets. The prospect of adding an extra pick plus still getting Achiuwa or Smith could be an enticing scenario for the Wizards. 

Sheppard has also said the Wizards like 15 players in this draft, meaning don't expect them to trade back too far. They could go back to the 13th or 14th pick, add another future first and still get help in their frontcourt for rebounding and rim protection.


The Wizards will probably just stay where they are, as they usually do. But if they do decide to work the phones, moving back rather than up makes the most sense for them, when you consider the entire picture.