The two-round 2017 NBA Draft tips off Thursday night. Now that their blockbuster trade with the Boston Celtics was officially announced Monday, the Philadelphia 76ers are on the clock. Barring a shocking development, University of Washington point guard and DeMatha product Markelle Fultz will be the number-one overall selection.
Unless the Wizards pull of a major move, they won’t be picking until a couple of hours after Fultz’s moment of a lifetime. For the third time in four years, Washington doesn’t have a first-round selection.
Regardless, there is still plenty worth watching Thursday night with the Wizards’ future in mind.
Pack Your Patience
The 2017 first-round pick went bye-bye in February when the Wizards acquired forward Bojan Bogdanovic from the Nets. Washington only owns the 52nd overall selection. That’s not nothing -- Washington didn’t have any picks in the 2016 draft -- but it’s not exactly where teams regularly land building blocks or rotation options.
Yet the Wizards have roster space available, especially for a young and cheap talent. Three undrafted rookies made the opening-day roster last season, showing the organization’s patience while seeking help.
Help is a Phone Call Away
For the Wizards this season, the draft is a mere appetizer ahead of free agency, which begins in earnest after July 1. However, teams can trade players now. Indiana’s Paul George and Chicago’s Jimmy Butler are the primary targets.
The George trade market hit turbo over the weekend when a report from The Vertical had the All-Star forward telling the Pacers he intends to leave during free agency next summer. That means Indiana likely moves George sooner than later in the hopes of maximizing their return. There won’t be nearly the interest in the sleek forward as expected because of fears he’ll sign with the Los Angeles Lakers regardless next summer. Teams willing to risk trading for a one-year rental are those believing they’re one piece away from contending. The Wizards should be one of those teams. Problem: They likely don’t have the assets Indiana would covet unless Bradley Beal is involved. He won’t be.
Butler, Chicago’s leading scorer, comes with a multi-year deal. If either wing threat lands with NBA finalist Cleveland or another East team, the odds of Washington advancing beyond the Conference semi-finals decrease. Unless the Wizards get creative with their own trade, that is.
If the Wizards publicly revealed an offseason wish list, it would look something like this:
1) Guards: There's so much focus on a backup for John Wall that everyone overlooks the fact that the Wizards truly didn't have a viable option behind Beal last season. Ideally, they find a third guard in free agency capable of playing both spots while using the draft pick for depth.
2) Shooting: Beal and Otto Porter rock from deep. So does Bogdanovic, but he might depart in free agency. That would leave a major deep threat void off the bench.
3) Athletic big: Markieff Morris can play all over the court on both ends. That's great because he's the only current power forward or center capable of such tasks. He's also the only big of those in the primary rotation last season under 30.
4) Center: If they, as expected, trade Marcin Gortat, more depth is needed behind Ian Mahinmi.
Nobody should anticipate the 52nd pick solely solving any of Washington’s needs. It's a best available situation regardless. Don’t forget the Wizards could send the player selected overseas, thus maintaining his rights without holding up a roster spot. For example, 2015 second-round pick Aaron White will play his third professional season overseas during the 2017-18 campaign.
Yet with next season in mind, the Wizards can consider several experienced upperclassmen. That specific faction includes Villanova swingman Josh Hart and a trio of point guards, Monte Morris (Iowa State), Frank Morris (Kansas) and Melo Trimble (Maryland).