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Who should the Wizards draft?

On Thursday night, the Washington Wizards were officially eliminated from playoff contention. The Miami Heat had won and this caused the Wizards to look ahead to next season. This game was notable as it was Dirk Nowitzki and Dwyane Wade’s last time playing against each other. But that’s not the main issue of concern.

The Wizards are now back in the NBA Draft Lottery for the first time since 2016 when they were ninth in the Eastern Conference and were 41-41. This season, Washington is just 31-45 and will likely finish no higher than 11th in the Eastern Conference.

At this point in the NBA season, most teams give their younger players action to see what they can do in game action. It is also important to know that Washington have as high of a draft position as possible for this year’s draft.

Washington cannot make much noise in free agency either. Half of their salary cap is tied to John Wall and Ian Mahinmi who either won’t play next season or won’t be productive on the court. They can’t get players on maximum-level contracts so the draft is their best bet to get a significant contributor. As the NBA Draft is on everyone’s mind because of March Madness, here are some of the players I would love to see the Washington Wizards take with the pick they are expected to get.

Brandon ClarkeBaylor Bears guard King McClure (3) drives against Gonzaga Bulldogs forward Brandon Clarke (15) and guard Zach Norvell Jr. (23) during the first half of a second round mens basketball game in the NCAA Tournament  on Saturday, March 23, 2019, at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

One player I would like for the Wizards to target entering the NBA Draft is Brandon Clarke. Clarke has freakish athleticism, which allows the 6-foot-8, 215-pound junior to play far bigger than his size. Clarke has also shown that he is an elite defensive player which is something the Wizards have lacked this season. Overall, the eye test shows that he could be a quality NBA player.

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As for the numbers, Clarke is having a historically great season. No player since the 1992-93 season of college basketball has been putting up the numbers he has right now: 17.0 points on 69.9 percent shooting, 8.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 3.1 blocks, and 1.2 steals per game. He’s an offensive machine who can protect the rim a lot better than most NBA centers.

Pairing him with Thomas Bryant in the Wizards frontcourt would be a pipe dream for every Wizards fan on the planet. It has been a long time since Washington has had one, let alone two athletic big men who can play in space and finish strong as well as protect the rim.

However, there are some downsides to Clarke’s game. His inability to shoot threes at this stage of his career means there will be a lot of situations that are hard for him in the NBA. His ceiling is too high for him to be a bust, but it depends if the team he gets drafted to wants to build around him or not. Clarke can prove this over the next two weeks by leading Gonzaga to a possible NCAA championship.

Coby White

Image result for coby white nbaThis would be my ideal pick if he happens to fall to the Wizards. Coby White is the kind of player that could lead a team’s offense for many years to come. Heck, he’s been the lead ballhandler and most potent scorer on a program that is known for winning. While this is not to suggest that White is any sort of unknown quantity—NBA teams have been tracking the freshman closely since the fall and it’s probably safe to say that a lot of teams will be in for him.

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This would also be a great fir for the Wizards. Now that John Wall is out for all of the 2019-2020 season with a ruptured left Achillies tendon, Washington has a massive hole at the point guard position. While Tomas Satoransky is a nice option, Coby White would bring an entirely different game that the modern point guard usually has. At 6’5” with a good build, some sneaky explosiveness and a clean, potent three-point shot, he profiles as a strong fit within a positionless system.

However, White isn’t exactly the best decision-maker. He has continued to improve and has all of the tools to learn how to play off-the ball. With positionless basketball and shooting being at an all-time high in the NBA, it doesn’t matter all that much if White doesn’t become a pass-first point guard. Overall, this would be a great pick and even when John comes back, they can always move Coby to the 2 given his terrific shooting.

Cam Reddish

Image result for cam reddish

This would be a steal if the Wizards were able to land Cam at number 7-10. While Reddish isn’t having the best year of his career, there are still some positives to be taken from his game. His ability to read the game and make the right play will always go far in today’s NBA. Being listed at 6’8 218 pounds while sporting a 7”1 wingspan will help him get by in the league as this will allow him to guard multiple positions and be the prototypical NBA player that most GMs would love to have on their team. Just like his teammates, Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett, Reddish can advance the ball the length of the court.

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Reddish will be able to help an NBA team that likes to space the floor as he is able to catch and shoot. For Wizards fans, this is the kind of player we all wanted Otto Porter Jr. to be but for whatever reason, it didn’t happen. Reddish is also a very good passer. He is very good at making the extra pass, which can help get teammates open shots.

However, there are a lot of flaws to Cam Reddish. One big flaw is that he tends to be very streaky. Some games will have Reddish going off and scoring 25 and then there will be others where he will shoot 6/24 on 33% shooting which will leave scouts puzzled as to what they will see from him in today’s NBA. Another big weakness to his game is that he turns the ball over way too much. His 2.0 assists per game to his 2.7 turnovers per game are not a good sign to any team looking to draft him. There was one five-game stretch in December where Reddish committed 16 turnovers which is around 2 to 3 of those per game.  He will need to cut down on the mistakes to improve his assist to turnover ratio. That being said, he is one of the main reasons why Duke are the favorites to cut the net in April.

 

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