Last June, the Wizards opted to select a plug-and-play upperclassman with their first round draft pick in Rui Hachimura. This year, they feel they can take the longview with a younger and less-polished prospect.
That's according to general manager Tommy Sheppard, who did a Twitter Q&A on Thursday via the Wizards team account. He feels the timing could be right to bet on upside.
"I think when you look at our roster and you see eight players 23 or younger, we can probably take a swing at somebody and they're not going to have to help us immediately next year. If that player is there, certainly we do that," Sheppard said.
That certainly opens up more options in this day and age where one-and-done players generally make up most of the lottery. And this year's crop happens to include some young prospects from the international ranks that won't offer the high floors a seasoned college veteran might.
This year's draft process, of course, will be different than all those before it due to the NBA's hiatus and stay-at-home directive. Sheppard and his front office team plan to conduct all of their communication on conference calls and video chats.
Their interviews with prospects will also occur on those mediums and they start Monday with college seniors and international prospects. There will be no in-person workouts, which Sheppard doesn't foresee having a major impact.
Sheppard called workouts "lower on the checklist" in terms of the player evaluation process.
"Workouts are important, but these players have played all season," he said. "If we're going to decided whether to take a player based on one workout, we're in a lot of trouble. We've done our homework."
The Wizards, of course, never brought Hachimura in for a workout last summer. And they didn't in 2015 with Kelly Oubre Jr., either. Those ploys were seen as purely subterfuge, but clearly Sheppard believes enough can be gleaned about a player without hosting them in D.C.
And Sheppard believes there could be some advantages to the new way of doing business.
"This is actually kind of a normal time for us as a scouting group. We're always on conference calls, and now we're on video calls as we spend much more time on each player as we try to find who the best fits for the Wizards are. We're digesting so much more video and going over players in so much more detail. This may end up being the way we do the draft moving forward," he said.
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