The Washington Wizards hold the 15th and 44th picks in the upcoming 2018 NBA Draft. The Wizards biggest needs are in their front court. The crown jewels of this draft just happen to be front court players. Barring unforeseen circumstances, the Wizards won’t have a shot at players like DeAndre Ayton and Mo Bamba. There will still be some high-ceiling players that may be available at 15 and 44.
Kevin Knox played power forward at the University of Kentucky. At 6-foot-9, Knox has the height to play either forward spot in the NBA. He has been compared by some to current Wizard, Otto Porter Jr. Some would even argue that their skill sets are redundant. As the NBA becomes more positionless by the moment, it’s beginning to matter less and less where guys fit into the lineup. In the current NBA climate, the more tall skilled players on the floor the better. With that said, Porter and Knox would fit just fine next to each other.
Knox can score from all three levels. He has the ability to hit the long range shot, hit from mid range, and even post up. He isn’t a finished product but he has an excellent foundation of skills to build upon. Knox isn’t currently a great defender but he has the motor and seems to be willing to put forth the effort to improve on that end. At just 18 years old, his ceiling is very high.
Lonnie Walker IV
Lonnie Walker is a 19-year-old shooting guard from the University of Miami. Walker is extremely athletic. He shot under 35 percent from downtown in college, but he’s a microwave-type player who can get hot and hit everything. For the Wizards, Walker could fit right in as a backup to Bradley Beal. He is a great finisher, and also has the strength to finish through contact. He hasn’t shown to be an efficient player but his ceiling is sky high. His athleticism along with a 6-foot-10 wingspan also implies that he could be an elite man defender in the NBA.
Walker could drive a fan base crazy with some wild shots that maybe he shouldn’t take but look at the list of recent sixth man of the year winners. You’ll end up saying the same thing about them. He fits perfectly with the Wizards as a sixth man. He can play a prime J.R. Smith type of role. From a long-term perspective, if Walker improves his efficiency, he could eventually even make Beal expendable.
Omari Spellman would be a nice second round pick for the Wizards. The big man from Villanova earned Big East Freshman of the Year honors in his only season. At 6-foot-9 and 245 pounds, Spellman is a big body who shot over 40 percent from three in college. He did this while also being a decent rim protector with 1.5 blocks per game. Spellman is bulky enough to hold his own in the paint, but has the stroke to bring much needed spacing to the Wizards. His only glaring weakness is that he doesn’t really have a post game, but we saw what having a post game has done for Jahlil Okafor. He’s also not a great athlete but he rebounds and hold his position well enough for that not to hurt his game too much.
Drafting Jarred Vanderbilt from Kentucky is a gamble that could really pay off. He has been compared to Draymond Green, Lamar Odom, and Dennis Rodman. His best skills are rebounding, passing, and defense. The biggest problem is he can’t shoot.
Vanderbilt is 6-foot-9 with the handles and passing ability of a guard. He played just 238 total minutes at Kentucky due to injury, but in that time, he averaged over 18 rebounds per 40 minutes. His athleticism would provide the Wizards with the lob target they’ve been missing since they traded Javale McGee.
At his best, Vanderbilt could be a very athletic point forward that can guard four positions. He has no skills when it comes to scoring the basketball outside of dunking. There are major concerns over his injuries. He has had numerous lower body injuries that could be preventing him from gaining the lower body strength he’d need to reach his ceiling.
Regardless of who the Wizards pick, one thing is for sure. They absolutely have to take advantage of this opportunity to get some young talent on this team. They can’t afford to part with either of these picks.