By all signs, it appears as though the NBA regular season is finished. It would take a sharp decline in new COVID cases for the league to have time to finish the regular season and playoffs in a timely manner, so it’s about time to look ahead to the offseason. I performed a full roster breakdown, split up by ball-handlers, wings, and bigs, so check that out.
It’s looking like the Wizards will have their selection in the 8-10 range, and given their lack of strength at most positions as well as aging status of their backcourt, almost any position could make sense. I trust Tommy Sheppard and the front office to take the best available player. It’s just a complete mystery as to who that’ll be. Let’s break it down by position.
Haliburton stands at 6’5”, part of the ever-growing movement of mid-sized ball-handlers finding success in the NBA. He’s a pass-first guard with great court vision and spatial awareness and has a nose for attacking the rim. His jump shot could be a weakness despite being known as a knockdown catch and shoot player — he barely bends his knees at all when he shoots and he’ll likely have to tweak that in the pros. He’s the type of guard that seems to get along well with his pick-and-roll mates, something that John Wall has been inconsistent with in the past. It’s unclear if Haliburton would make it to the Wizards pick, or even head to the draft at all, but if he’d be a great selection if available when the Wizards are making their selection.
R.J. Hampton has athleticism that jumps off the highlight reel. If he’s available, the Wizards should jump at the opportunity to take him. His biggest strengths include attacking the basket — his driving dunk and layup packages are sick — and his speed and jumping ability which make him a challenging matchup. He projects as a pretty ball-dominant guard, and along with what seems to be a strong personality, the transition to the NBA could be difficult in terms of ideology. But he doesn’t appear hard-headed from interviews or gameplay breakdowns, so that shouldn’t be too tough. All things considered, Hampton has game-breaking talent and projects as an NBA talent for years to come.
Mannion is a tough case because he’s shown the talent to be a 20 point-per-game scorer at many times in his high school and college careers, but has been lacking in other parts of his game. Common critiques about him include ball-hogging tendencies and taking bad shots. His shot creation ability is impressive, and so is his ability to wiggle around and make room for himself, but as other critics have mentioned, it could do him well to take another year at the college level despite being projected as a top-20 pick. He wouldn’t be the worst pick for the Wizards, as Wall and Bradley Beal would be able to mentor him and get his game prepared for the pros, but it could serve him well to take another year at Arizona.
Okoro is another player with a game that could easily translate to a successful team. He didn’t take on too large of an offensive role at Auburn, and doesn’t have much of a jump shot, either from range or midrange, but those weaknesses don’t appear damning. He’s an awesome finisher around the rim with either hand, and can power past his opponents with his low center of gravity. That ability is even more present in transition, where he’s an absolute force to be reckoned with, and he can play swarming, turnover-causing defense to earn those opportunities. Okoro is a classic “passes the eye test” kind of prospect — he looks comfortable and confident on the court. The Wizards arguably already have a version of him with Troy Brown Jr., but the more the merrier. I’d slot him below Hampton and Haliburton but above Mannion.
Toppin is another player projected to go to the Wiz along with Hampton and Mannion and is probably my least favorite of the bunch. He rocks a similar frame as Rui Hachimura, but seemingly without the deft touch despite scoring 20 points per game this past season. Let’s get one thing out of the way — Toppin should not be on any shortlists for the Wizards. With several wings in progress and a logjam at the 4 (hoping Bertāns returns), he just wouldn’t fit in. But in the case Sheppard pulls a Grunfeld and takes the talented PF, fans can look forward to highlight dunks, good finishing around the rim, an efficient jump shot on limited attempts, and not much else. Scouting reports project him as another wing that can’t defend, and the Wizards don’t need another one of those.
I kept this list short because the Wizards are pretty packed at the PF and C spots, but Okongwu’s talent is not to be messed around with. He’s an athletic big that can play the P&R adeptly, and would be an awesome target, especially in comparison to Wall’s other current options Thomas Bryant and Ian Mahinmi. He has the upside and downside of Hassan Whiteside, a bouncy big man that can block shots at an elite rate but is often caught out of position and just gets lost matching up against wiggly guards on the perimeter. But Okongwu has a developing jump shot, the agility to guard from SF to C, and could come in and immediately outplay Wagner and Pasecniks. He’s worth a long look.
In order, I’d take these players:
Thanks for reading! Check out our other Wizards coverage on the site, and there will be more offseason coverage to come.