3 targets for the Washington Wizards in this upcoming NBA draft

3+targets+for+the+Washington+Wizards+in+this+upcoming+NBA+draft

Jude Heatley

The NBA (National Basketball Association) Draft will take place on Wednesday, November 18. The Washington Wizards, after a disappointing season in which they won only 25 of a total 72 games played, have once again found themselves with the ninth overall pick. Last year, the Wizards made a great choice at number nine with the pick of Rui Hachimura, an athletic forward who averaged 14 points and six rebounds in his rookie season. This year, however, drafting such a talented player will be much more difficult — most college basketball teams played around only 30 games last season and many pre-draft workouts have been cancelled. Whoever the Wizards are looking to draft, they will have a much smaller amount of information to go off of this year than compared to in the past.

Taking all this into consideration, here are the three best players for the Wizards to draft that will most likely still be available at pick nine:

 

Onyeka Okongwu

The first player on any Wizard fan’s list would be Onyeka Okongwu. Still, this is very wishful thinking and, according to NBC Sports, Okongwu is more likely to go in the top five than in the top ten. 

A player who I’ve heard a lot moving up a lot of executives’ big boards is Onyeka Okongwu from USC, who I’ve heard moving into the top three-to-five,” Brian Windhorst, a well-known sports writer for ESPN, said on “The Jump,” a sports talk show.

That being said, crazier things have happened and there have been mock drafts where Okongwu falls to the Wizards. Okongwu is a 19-year-old freshman out of USC who averaged 16 points and nine rebounds in 28 total games played. His biggest attribute is probably his defense — something the Wizards desperately need more of, seeing as they were the second worst defensive team on paper according to data at NBA.com. In his one short year at USC, Okongwu averaged 2.7 blocks and 1.2 steals. He has great defensive instincts and a very high ceiling.

 

Isaac Okoro

A more realistic pick would be Isaac Okoro, a 6 foot 6 inch forward out of Auburn University. In his freshman season, Okoro averaged 13 points per game and four rebounds on over 50 percent shooting. Okoro is most praised for his intense energy on both the offensive and defensive sides of the floor. Still, Okoro’s offense will need some work. 

“Okoro is a work in progress when it comes to his skill level offensively,” one analyst for NBADraft.net said. ”While his touch is good, his mechanics are inconsistent as he is often affected by closeouts and contests.”

One of Okoro’s main weaknesses is his inconsistent three-point shooting. This shouldn’t be a huge concern for the Wizards, though — they were among the top 10 best teams for three point percentage according to NBA.com and Okoro has a lot of time to improve. Okoro has amazing defensive potential, but his offensive capabilities — both his shooting and dribbling — could use some polishing. 

 

Killian Hayes

Another prospect that will most likely be available is Killian Hayes, a point guard who, at only 19 years of age, has already played three seasons of professional basketball overseas in France. 

“[Hayes is] a unique player,” one unnamed NBA scout, in an article by Bleacher Report, said. “[Teams] like that he comes from a basketball family and that he will bring that professional experience from Europe. Playing professionally makes you tough, and you can see that in the way that he plays. I’d bet on him making a big impact right away in the NBA.” 

Hayes is a talented scorer with a consistent jump shot and shifty handle. Last season, he averaged 13 points per game on 46-39-90 shooting splits, ridiculously consistent numbers considering he is a teenager playing against grown men. He is also a skilled passer — he averaged six assists last season. The main concern with Hayes is that the Wizards already have a lot of guards, especially with John Wall returning this year after suffering an achilles injury, and he may be underutilized in the offense.

The NBA draft in the age of COVID-19 is sure to be an interesting event. All of the listed prospects have a lot of potential and would be great fits for the team. Whoever the Wizards draft, though, it is important to keep an open mind. Many Washington fans last year were skeptical of the Wizard’s pick in Hachimura, but he swiftly proved those doubters wrong within only a couple weeks of the NBA season. This is a new era of Washington basketball–the team is drafting talented young players and the future is looking bright for fans.