With the 2022 NBA Draft approaching, let’s read the league’s tea leaves with regard to what’s brewing with the Washington Wizards:
- Likelihood of Washington keeping the No. 10 pick — The franchise has reportedly been willing to move the pick as they look for a veteran guard. The Wizards have been connected to Malcolm Brogdon and they’ve been linked to Collin Sexton (though if the Wiz and Cavs were going to swap picks as part of a Sexton sign-and-trade, they’d have to wait until after free agency begins to make such a deal). Ultimately, it would be surprising if Washington ended up keeping this selection even if it’s for a smaller move that picks up a veteran and moves down slightly in the draft.
- Ideal Fit if Wizards Keep No. 10 — Bennedict Mathurin. The Arizona State product is unlikely to be available at the Wizards’ spot but he’d be a seamless fit.
- Best Realistic Fit if Wizards Keep No. 10 — AJ Griffin. The injury history worries some but Griffin should be able to step right in and play a role as a sharpshooting forward that would unlock some interesting possibilities in Wes Unseld Jr.’s offense.
- Avoidance — Johnny Davis might be the favorite to go No. 10, though I’m probably more bearish on him than most. What is his game going to look like four years from now? I’d rather trade down, get someone like Jalen Williams and land an additional asset.
- Latest on Kyle Kuzma — Reports surfacing Wednesday night indicated that Kuzma is available in trade talk with the Wizards (Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is also available). Kuzma’s stock has no doubt risen since he was acquired in the Russell Westbrook trade and just reading the tea leaves of the trade marketplace, it wouldn’t be surprising if he netted Washington a significant return. That could be a mid-first-rounder to utilize in another trade or it could be a 2023 selection that frees up the club to trade away this year’s No. 10 pick. In my All-Trade Mock Draft, I proposed a deal that sent Kuzma, Deni Avdija, and the No. 10 pick to the Kings for the No. 4 pick and Justin Holiday. While I would make that move if I was either GM (with Jaden Ivey being the target for Washington), there hasn’t been much traction on that kind of deal for Sheppard & Co.
- I Think: Will Barton Somehow Ends Up in Washington — On several occasions, Tommy Sheppard has indicated that he’d be comfortable with adding non-traditional floor generals to share some of the play-making duty. Beal has excelled at the point guard spot and it makes sense to try that route. To do that, the franchise needs a secondary ball-handler and someone who can create offense off the bench so that Beal doesn’t have to split time as much time between units. Barton is reportedly available in trade talks with the Nuggets. Monte Morris is also a name to watch, per Josh Robbins and David Aldridge of The Athletic.
- Late Second-Round Watch — Iverson Molinar. Washington possesses the No. 54 overall pick and in an early version of my two-round Wizards mock, I had the Mississippi State product heading to D.C. Play-making is his specialty, though it’s unlikely that Molinar can make it to the NBA playing the exact style of basketball that he showcased during his junior season. He showed promise in a lesser usage role earlier in his collegiate career and as I previously wrote for SLAM, elevating from the G-League to the NBA many times is about accepting and thriving in a lesser usage role. Molinar is a candidate for the Capital City Go-Go or another G League squad, and if he can improve his three-point shooting and defense just a notch, it’s easy to envision him being a high-energy guard off the bench for the Wizards or another NBA team.
- What Up Beal — Death and taxes might be the GOATs of certainty but Bradley Beal re-signing in Washington might be the closest thing to certainty that we’ll see all summer long.