Planning Out the 2024 NBA Draft for the Washington Wizards

June 12th, 2024

by Alan Lu

The Wizards didn’t have a very good season, as their season was disastrous. They have seemingly no cornerstone players, Jordan Poole played much worse than anticipated and is on a hefty contract, not enough depth, and are led by an unproven coach to boot. Their previous head coach Wes Unseld Jr. was fired midseason, and Brian Keefe ended up finishing out the rest of the season as their head coach as the Wizards missed the playoffs yet again. On the plus side, Deni Avdija, Kyle Kuzma, and Tyus Jones had pleasantly solid seasons this year on a very bad Washington Wizards team. As they need talent, they could go in a number of ways for the second overall pick.

Kyle Kuzma and Deni Avdija were two of the best players on the Washington Wizards this year, but the Wizards missed the playoffs yet again. (Photo: Jerome Miron/USA Today Sports, via Last Word on Sports)

In exploring trade ideas, I tinkered around to see what would make sense. As Jordan Poole had a terrible season this year, it puts the Wizards in a bind, as he’s on a mult-year contract, which would be deemed an albatross if he keeps playing as poorly as he did this year. So, it makes sense for them to trade him. Here’s what I did here in this NBA mock trade.

3-Team NBA Mock Trade involving the Washington Wizards, Brooklyn Nets, and Chicago Bulls:

A mock NBA basketball trade between Washington Brooklyn Chicago Fanspo images
This mock NBA trade would be a blockbuster trade between three teams that would see a couple of first round picks change hands.
(Photo: Fanspo)

In this hypothetical trade scenario, the Washington Wizards would trade Jordan Poole, Marvin Bagley III, and the 26th overall pick of the 2024 NBA Draft to the Brooklyn Nets for Ben Simmons, and then, in the second part of this hypothetical trade, the Wizards would trade and flip Ben Simmons to the Chicago Bulls for Zach LaVine, Lonzo Ball, and the 11th overall pick of the 2024 NBA Draft. Therefore, the Wizards would end up with LaVine, Ball, and the 11th pick in this scenario.

This would unload Poole’s hefty contract so that they would be able to swap it for the expiring contract of Ben Simmons, but this may cost something extra for the Wizards to unload, so they would give the Nets Bagley and the 26th overall pick as compensation. Then, if the Wizards were to keep Simmons, then they could theoretically be able to free up cap space the year after this one, unless if Simmons ends up having a great year and if they were to decide to re-sign him. Or they could flip Simmons to acquire LaVine, and as LaVine is an injury-prone star that is trending downwards and on a massive contract, they may might be able to extract an extra pick out of the Chicago Bulls.

I know this latter part sounds a bit ludicrous, but LaVine is on a very expensive contract and is at best a B-tier star player that is probably maxed out, and he’s an injury-prone star player on a middling team that has been known to not want to pay luxury cap. So, even though LaVine is considered the better player than Simmons right now, who has his own issues of not being healthy and being unselfish to a fault, LaVine having multiple years left on his contract compared to Simmons’ expiring contract could make it so that the Wizards may be at a position to obtain an additional draft pick in return. So, in this one, the Wizards would move up to get the eleventh overall pick here. As for Lonzo Ball, his knee is basically busted and there’s very little chance of him ever returning to play in the NBA or to the level he used to unfortunately, so he’d merely be cap ballast or a player they could take a flyer on in case if his knee does somehow improve drastically.

As they have the second overall pick, the Wizards could go in any number of directions. As they don’t have a true cornerstone player, they could simply opt to select the best player available at this spot. Determining who that would be may be another thing altogether.

If Zaccharie Risacher is on the board, then he would be the most logical pick at this spot. He is a very tall, smooth athletic wing that has a strong all-around game and does everything well. There are no major flaws in his game, and he could both step in right away and provide long-term value for the Wizards. Otherwise, they’ll have to look elsewhere for answers.

If the Wizards are aiming to select a point guard or an initiator to start the offense, Rob Dillingham, Reed Sheppard, Stephon Castle, and Nikola Topic could be options. Dillingham is a very athletic playmaker that can shoot it from deep, and Sheppard is a very efficient shooter that plays hard on the defensive end, but lacks elite athleticism. Castle is a tall, athletic combo guard that may be the best perimeter defender in the draft, but his jump shot may be a work in progress. Topic is a very tall, skilled playmaker, but his ACL injury and questionable outside shot may make him a risky pick at number two. So, out of these choices, the best options for the Wizards may be either Dillingham or Castle.

If the Wizards are looking to draft a wing guy and if Risacher is off the board, then Matas Buzelis, Cody Williams, and Ron Holland may all be enticing options. In addition, Dalton Knecht and Tidjane Salaun could also be names for this spot.

Cody Williams is a tall, athletic, rangy two-way wing that has a solid set of all-around skills, but lacks elite offensive skills and is a skinny wing that tended to pick up minor injuries throughout this season. Matas Buzelis is a very tall, athletic combo forward that has a variety of skills, but can tend to take tough shots that hurt his percentages, and was on a bad G-League Ignite team this season. Ron Holland is a tremendously athletic, energetic swingman that can score and is a rangy defender, but his lack of a credible jump shot or elite playmaking skills may be a concern, as well as having been on a bad G-League Ignite team. So in this group, Cody Williams would be a solid choice as a non-Risacher wing player out of these names. Also, Castle can double up as a wing player, and his development may hinge on his jump shot and ability to assert himself on offense.

Dalton Knecht is a ready-made NBA draft prospect, as he is an agile, skilled marksman that can really shoot and score the basketball, but he lacks elite athleticism or defensive skills, and his advanced age may suggest he may be close to being topped out, although he could still step in to be a solid starter in this league. Tidjane Salaun is an extremely athletic combo forward that may have an immense upside, but his inconsistent jump shot and lack of elite handles may make him too risky a pick to go this high.

If they’re looking to draft a center, they could turn to Alex Sarr or Donovan Clingan. Alex Sarr is a tremendously athletic, but skinny big man that has an exceptional shot blocker, but he didn’t quite shoot as well from the outside, and his thin frame may make it a bit tough for him to handle stronger opponents inside for the time being, even though he is quite strong for a skinny center. Donovan Clingan is a polished center that can block shots and anchor the paint, and he is a very tall, athletic center that can be a rim runner, but his fairly limited offensive skills may make his ceiling lower than the other top prospects. So, amongst these guys, Sarr might be the best prospect in this group.

If Risacher is off the board, I think the Wizards would need an initiator to run their offense. Therefore, I think that ROB DILLINGHAM would make logical sense as the pick at two for Washington. Otherwise, if Zaccharie Risacher is on the board and if they were to select the best player available, then Zaccharie Risacher would also be a smart and sound selection at this spot.

If they were to have the 11th overall pick for some reason, they could go in a number of ways. Dalton Knecht would be a polished player that could provide instant offense as well as some hustle on the defensive end. Cody Williams would be the long, springy wing that could play lockdown defense, provide some shooting and be a two-way wing player, as long as he’s healthy. Tidjane Salaun also would enter the conversation due to his length and tremendous athleticism, but his inconsistent shooting and questionable handles may make him less enticing than either Williams or Knecht. It’d be hard to pass up on Knecht, but I think the potential of Cody Williams combined with his fairly solid feel for the game may make him the pick here. But as there is a chance he may not be on the board, Dalton Knecht would be a good pick at 11.

At 51, it would be to pick the best player available, since finding a good player would not be an easy task at that spot. At 51, the smart move would be to go with Harrison Ingram, a solid, pass-first combo forward that has shown an improved jump shot and has good strength. There are other options available, too, but I think Ingram would be a solid pick at that spot.

Also, if centers Adem Bona and Ulrich Chomche are available, they would be athletic, springy big men that could be worth selecting at 51, as Bona is a tremendously athletic center that can protect the rim, and Chomche is a promising, but untested big that adds a stretch component with his ability to shoot from the outside. So, Ulrich Chomche could be a nice swing for the fences pick if he’s on the board at 51, in the sense that he could be a high risk, high reward type of selection.

Also, it’s important to discuss the 26th overall pick, because the Wizards have this pick in real life, and not the 11th overall pick. Baylor Scheierman and Tyler Kolek would be solid, win now players at 26, and both are very worthy of being first round selections. Both players can shoot and pass and are really solid offensively, and while neither are elite athletes or defenders, both would be very good choices at this spot. If Justin Edwards is on the board, he would also be a very good pick, as he is a very athletic swingman that can shoot and has defensive upside, and while he was inconsistent this year, he fits a 3 and D skill set, and he also has the potential to develop into a very versatile player that could make an impact on both ends of the floor.

If you’re looking for defense at 26, Ryan Dunn may be the best defender in the draft. He is a rangy defender that covers a lot of ground, but his lack of a jump shot combined with his passivity on offense may be concerns. Terrence Shannon Jr. and Kevin McCullar also would be good options, as Shannon is a very athletic shot creator that can shoot, and McCullar is a big strong wing that can pass and defend, but McCullar may lack elite athleticism and upside, while Shannon allegedly being involved in an offseason incident may make him a risky pick for the first round. Justin Edwards also would be an upside pick, as he is a very athletic forward that would project into a 3 and D role, but will need to be a more consistent player in the meantime. In addition, Baylor Scheierman and Tyler Kolek are smart, skilled offensive players that could step in right away, but their lack of elite athleticism and middling defensive skills would also present as some concerns.

So with all these moves, here would be the framework for the Washington Wizards, via the ESPN’s NBA Mock Draft Simulator:

Test Simulation #1:

A mock draft board for the Washington Wizards, second simulation.
A mock draft board for the Washington Wizards, second simulation. Image courtesy of ESPN Analytics.

Test Simulation #2:

A mock draft board for the Washington Wizards, first test simulation.
A mock draft board for the Washington Wizards, first simulation. Image courtesy of ESPN Analytics.

With the draft, the Wizards can go any number of ways. Here’s another test run, because it’s probably not likely that they’ll end up with the eleventh overall pick, and here’s a simulation where they end up keeping the 26th overall selection.

Test Simulation #3 (the one where they keep the 26th overall pick and don’t have 11):

A mock draft board for the Washington Wizards, first simulation.   Image courtesy of Fanspo.
A mock draft board for the Washington Wizards, third simulation. Image courtesy of ESPN Analytics.

Anyways, this could be an exciting draft for the Wizards, and they really could go in a number of ways with the picks and moves they have available this year. It will be interesting to see what happens. Thanks for reading.

NBA Scouting Live
error: Content is protected !!