By Anthony Davis Jr.
With the NBA Draft less than 12 hours away, we wanted to take an in-depth look at the prospects the Wizards should be targeting with the 19th overall pick in Thursday’s draft. The Wizards had a very successful season this past year and were two games away from defeating the Eastern Conference’s top regular season team, the Atlanta Hawks, and competing for the Conference championship.
If the Wizards want to take that next step towards truly competing for championships there are some areas of weakness they need to address. However, this year’s draft is full of players with the potential to fill those areas of weakness for the Wizards and contribute right away.
The Wizards will be looking to strengthen themselves off the bench in this year’s draft, looking for a solid back-up shooting guard or combo guard to come off the bench for Bradley Beal, as well as auxiliary big men to back-up Nene and Gortat. Or even to push Nene for that starting job, definitely need a big that can stretch the floor and run with those guards.
John Wall was one of the top point guards in the NBA this past year as he had a career year, averaging 17.5 points per game, as well as 10 assists. Wall and Ramon Sessions, who are both under contract, provide the Wizards with a good combination at the point guard position.
Paul Pierce, whose recent performance in the playoffs was stellar, has a player option. If he agrees to come back to the Wizards, he and emerging young swingman, Otto Porter, provide the Wizards with enough balance at the Small Forward position to compete with any team on any given night. Pierce has proven that he can hit clutch shots time and time again. Porter, with his length has shown he can be a decent perimeter defender when he puts his mind to it.
So these aforementioned weaknesses help in making a prediction as to what players the Wizards will select with their draft picks. Here is a list of five players the Wizards should target with the 19th overall pick:
1. Bobby Portis, Power Forward, Arkansas
This selection is wishful thinking for the Wizards, as it is assumed that Portis will be off the draft board by the 19th selection. However if he were to slip down the Wizards would definitely select him. Portis, this year’s SEC player of the year, is a 6’11, slim Power Forward who plays with intensity and desire. This year he averaged 17.5 points per game, and almost 9 rebounds at Arkansas and he could be a good fit for the Wizards as a lean inside player who can also stretch the floor and pull bigger defenders away from the basket. If Portis is not off the board by 19, expect the Wizards to hop on him quickly.
2. Jerian Grant, Point Guard, Notre Dame
“The Hometown Kid,” Grant is a native of the Washington, D.C. area and a graduate of the esteemed Dematha Catholic High School. Grant would be a great addition to the Wizards roster as a 6’5 guard who primarily plays the point, but can play the shooting guard position if on the floor with Wall at the same time. Grant averaged 16.5 points per game and 6.6 assists per game this year at Notre Dame. His ability to facilitate will be his greatest strength coming into the league as he has already shown on the college ranks that he has a knack for getting his teammates involved and being a floor general.
3. Kevon Looney, Power Forward, UCLA
Looney is an intriguing prospect because of the potential he possesses as a 6’9 stretch 4-man. He is the youngest prospect on this list, but he held his own this year at UCLA averaging 11.6 points per game and 9.2 rebounds per. Looney led all freshmen with 15 double-doubles this year, more than the presumed number one and number two overall picks Karl Anthony-Towns and Jahlil Okafor. Looney has the ability to stretch the floor as a four man and has shown flashes of hitting outside shots. He’s also capable of attacking the rim from the perimeter. His upside grants him great consideration of being selected by the Wizards with their 19th overall pick.
4. Montrez Harrell, Power Forward, Louisville
Harell has the frame and game to potentially be a younger, more athletic version of Nene for the Wizards. He is an extremely good defender and rebounder, and he steadily improved his offensive game over his three years at Louisville. This past year he averaged 15.7 points per game and 9.2 rebounds per contest. He is a garbage man, who does not mind banging on the inside. Harrell could provide toughness inside that the Wizards do need as Gortat and Nene transition into more finesse veterans.
5. Justin Anderson, Shooting Guard, Virginia
Anderson, is another native of the DMV area, and is a graduate of Montrose Christian School. Since the high school level, Anderson has always been
physically prepared for the NBA , but he has worked extremely hard on developing his game over his three years at Virginia. He’s poised to be selected in the first round of this year’s draft. While Anderson may be a little lower on the draft boards than the Wizards first selection, he could be a good fit if the Wizards were put in a situation where he was the best fit left on the board. A 6’6 wing player, Anderson has the strength and athleticism to play the shooting guard and possibly the small forward position at times. He has worked profusely at improving his jump shot to compliment his slashing abilities, and if he continues to improve his range, he could be a big threat at the next level. If selected by the Wizards, he will be added to a system that will set him up to succeed as a young, athletic guard.