Wizards interview pair of athletic wings at combine


The Wizards need help at wing and would like to add athleticism this offseason, so it's no surprise they spent part of Thursday at the NBA Draft Combine interviewing Jalen Johnson of Duke and Ziaire Williams of Stanford. Both are high-upside threes who are projected to fall in the Wizards' range.

The Wizards are selecting 15th overall in the first round of next month's draft. In NBC Sports Washinton's latest mock draft, Johnson is slated to go ninth to the Kings while Williams is the Wizards' pick at 15.

Johnson is a bit higher-rated than Williams despite only playing 13 games for Duke last season before opting out. He also left his high school team as a senior, which has raised some questions about his commitment.

He addressed those concerns with teams and then to the media on Thursday.

"Teams [have asked] why. But they're not really focused on high school or college anymore. This is a new step in my journey. I can just focus on the player I can be," Johnson said.

Johnson measured in at just above 6-foot-9 at the combine with a 7-foot wingspan. He averaged 11.2 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.2 blocks per game while shooting 44.4 percent from three for the Blue Devils.

Johnson said he has interviewed with many other teams including the Raptors, Hawks, Pacers, Magic, Knicks, Nets and Bulls. That shows the wide range he could fall within in the draft. If he fell to 15, he would give the Wizards a versatile defender with two-way potential. They need defense and outside shooting and those appear to be his strengths.


"I had a great interview with them," Johnson said.

Williams also felt good about how his interview with the Wizards went. He said he tried to be himself and explain to teams how he is expanding his offensive game, like by incorporating more post moves to take advantage of smaller defenders.

"It went super well. I think I did good," Williams said. "It was good vibes in that room, for sure. I got good feel for them. That could potentially be a landing spot, for sure."

Williams had a strong combine, measuring in at 6-foot-10 with a 39 1/2-inch vertical leap. He averaged 10.7 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game while shooting 37.4 percent from the field. He also made just 29.1 percent of his threes, though he did shoot 79.6% from the line.

As his shooting numbers help demonstrate, Williams is a bit of a raw prospect. His best selling point is potential due to his explosive athleticism.

"I feel like I have the capabilities and the God-given talent to be a special player in the league," he said.