The Washington Wizards should get a much-needed boost from whoever they select with the third overall pick in Thursday’s NBA draft, but they’re more than one good player away from making themselves a relevant team again. So whatever they do with their pair of second-round picks also could have a big impact.
As coach Randy Wittman told Monumental Network, “We saw through injury last year that we didn’t have the depth that we needed to overcome that.”
In addition to the No. 3 selection, the Wizards also hold the 38th and 54th picks in this year’s draft, and are presented with an opportunity to add that much-needed depth to their squad. The Wizards have hosted pre-draft workouts to get a look at a few players who may be able to do just that. Or they may choose to package the two picks for a veteran player or a higher second-round selection.
The highest profile players in the workout group have been guards who could back up John Wall and Bradley Beal, such as D.J. Cooper of Ohio and Khalif Wyatt of Temple, and forwards who can create space, such as Jackie Carmichael of Illinois State and Keith Clanton of Central Florida.
The group seems to be a way for the Wizards to cover their bases. If they follow conventional wisdom and select Georgetown’s Otto Porter with the third pick in the draft, it is likely they will select a forward who can spread the floor in the second round. If the Wizards decide to draft UNLV power forward Anthony Bennett at No. 3, there is a decent chance they will look to fill out their backcourt later with another high-energy guard to give the team some life when Wall or Beal needs a rest.
Among the second-round forward prospects, Clanton played four years at UCF, averaging 14.8 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game and shooting more than 50 percent from the field last season. The forward stands 6 feet 9 inches and weighs about 250 pounds.
“I’m a confident player,” Clanton said after his workout at Verizon Center. “I feel like I can go out there, hit the jump shot, rebound and play defense.”
Clanton finished his college career as UCF’s all-time leader in rebounds (1,000), blocks (227), games played (129) and starts (121) and sixth in points (1,718).
Carmichael spent three years at Illinois State, averaging 17.4 points, and 9.3 rebounds his junior year. At 6-9, 240, the forward displayed his strength in one-on-one post-up drills during his workout alongside Porter. While a tough big man who can grab boards and score is always a positive addition for a team, the Wizards are already well-stocked in that regard with Nene and Emeka Okafor.
Cooper played four years at Ohio, and is known for his energetic game. In his senior year he averaged 14.1 points, 7.1 assists and 2.0 steals. His offensive game, however, can be a bit inconsistent, as at times he would catch fire and other times go cold. At Ohio, he never made more than 43 percent of his shots.
“I need to get more consistent on my jump shot,” Cooper said. “[I’m] in the gym every day working on my game, shooting jump shots, shooting shots I’m not usually comfortable with. I’m a good leader, good person, good teammate that likes to make guys better.”
The 22-year-old Cooper is only a few months younger than Wall. Cooper, though, does not see his age as a disadvantage.
“[I bring] a sense of maturity, I’ve been through a lot, I know how to handle different situations,” he said. “I’ve been through some adversity.”
The other notable guard, Wyatt (6-4, 215) averaged 20.5 points, 4.0 assists and 1.7 steals his senior year at Temple and seems to be catching the interest of many teams. Wyatt’s scoring could be a huge boost off the bench and allow the team to get some points from the two-guard when Beal needs a rest.
“I can score the ball, in different ways,” Wyatt said. “I’ve proven that at the college level, and I just want the opportunity to prove that at this level.”
The Wizards’ current roster only has two true power forwards, Kevin Seraphin and Trevor Booker — who took over the starting job when Seraphin had a calf injury. Backcourt depth is a dicier situation. At the point, the Wizards have Wall as well as impending free agents A.J Price and Leandro Barbosa. And that’s about it.
Of course, the second round of the NBA draft is highly unpredictable, and the Wizards could choose from a swath of players or even trade away their picks. Any route the Wizards choose to go in the second round, they should pick up a few bodies to come off the bench and give Wittman more options throughout the season.