The rarity of the Washington Wizards participating in the postseason, not to mention advancing to the second round, has delayed the usual intense focus on the NBA Draft. When the current season ends and true focus on the future begins, fans should know there will be reason to care about the draft. That's because the talent pool and Confucius have something in common: Both are deep.
"The second round of this draft was shaping up to be incredibly deep, and that was before the list of Early Entry International candidates was revealed," NBADraftblog.com's Ed Isaacson told CSNwashington. The NBA announced on Wednesday that 75 early entrants applied for the draft, including 45 from American colleges and 30 international players.
The Wizards don't have a first-round selection because of a pre-season trade with the Phoenix Suns that brought center Marcin Gortat to Chinatown. Not that anyone is complaining about that deal that ultimately helped Washington offset Nene's absences and provides interior power on both ends of the court.
The draft is nearly two months away. The Wizards hope to fill most of that time by actually playing basketball for another round or two (or three??).
The 75 does not include a formidable group of seniors including Creighton's Doug McDermott and Connecticut's Shabazz Napier. Georgetown's Markel Starks is a four-year-player already moving up draft lists after shining at the Portsmouth Invitational.
"There are really two main groups of American players in this draft - the seniors, who are usually taken in the second round, and underclassmen who in many other years may even be considered late 1st round picks," Isaacson said.
"The sheer volume of underclassmen who have a first round value will push other first round value players into the second round, simply based on the fact that there are only 30 first round spots. I can see as many as 10 players with first round value ending up as second round picks this year."
Determining which players rise and fall will shake out after weeks of workouts and evaluations heading into the June 26 draft. What's clear now for Isaacson is that teams "can fill almost any need" depending on their plans. Washington owns the 46th overall selection.
The Wizards roster is such going forward at least in terms of depth that they can go in almost any direction. Guards John Wall, Bradley Beal and Andre Miller along with big man Nene plus small forwards Martell Webster and Otto Porter are the only players under contract for next season. Washington can make qualifying offers to forward Trevor Booker and center Kevin Seraphin.
Should Washington seek a long-term backup plan behind Wall, Isaacson notes the draft is loaded with senior point guards. Napier, the hero of UConn's title-winning team, will surely be gone by the time the Wizards pick. Other notables include Louisville's Russ Smith, Arizona State's Jahii Carson and Ohio State's Aaron Craft.
Among the "interesting" power forward and center types, Isaacson sites Florida's power-packed Patric Young, Tennessee's Jarnell Stokes, Michigan's Mitch McGarry and Baylor's Cory Jefferson. 6-foot-5 C.J. Wilcox from Washington tops the list of potential second-rounders on the wing along with Missouri's Jabari Brown.
Though the Wizards could have room for a rookie to step in, they could also attack the draft with an eye toward development.
"Whether teams look to pick International players to "stash" overseas will likely come down to certain organizations which have gone that route in the past," Isaacson said. "The rise of one-to-one NBA team/D-League affiliates could also see many teams looking to make 2nd round selections with the intention of developing players further."