Wizards

Which Top 2024 Draft Prospects Should the Wizards Target?

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Rebuilds are not for the faint of heart.

They require patience, lots of losing and an emphasis on draft capital over star talent. For the Washington Wizards, their journey has just begun.

In May 2023, Washington’s owner Ted Leonsis did the unthinkable. The same man who uttered the words, “We will never, ever tank,” committed to tearing his roster apart and starting from scratch. To do so, he had to fire GM Tommy Sheppard, ushering in a new era of Wizards basketball.

Leonsis’ first move was to hire Michael Winger as President of Monumental Basketball. Winger’s opening move: Hiring GM Will Dawkins away from the OKC Thunder. The pair have since traded Bradley Beal, Kristaps Porzingis and Daniel Gafford, drafted Bilal Coulibaly and acquired additional draft capital.

For a team in mediocrity for numerous years, Washington looks poised to come out of this rebuild on top. First, they’ll have to hit in the draft. Last year’s selection, Coulibaly, looked solid in Year 1, as did Tristan Vukcevic. Now, Washington’s front office will be tasked with finding another young buck to add into the fold.

With a 14% chance at the first pick and locked into a top-six pick, the Wizards have an opportunity to acquire talent. Now, it’s just a matter of finding it.

Listed below are three options Washington should consider atop the draft:

1. Alex Sarr (PF, Perth Wildcats)

Picking for fit — especially during a rebuild in which your roster is ever-changing — makes little sense. However, Washington’s need for a center pairs perfectly with Sarr being the best player in this draft class. At 7-foot-1 and 217 pounds, Sarr creates havoc on both ends.

The 19-year-old’s lengthy frame and elite rim protection have drawn comparisons to Jaren Jackson Jr., one of the game’s best defenders. If Sarr turns out anything like those projections, he’ll look like a home-run selection.

The Frenchman went overseas this season, appearing in 24 games for the Perth Wildcats of the NBL. In limited minutes, Sarr averaged 9.7 points and 4.4 rebounds, underwhelming numbers from an outside perspective. However, that tone changes when looking at his “Per 36 minute” stats:

  • 20.3 PPG
  • 9.2 RPG
  • 2.8 BPG
  • 1.0 SPG
  • 52% FG

Those look like numbers worthy of the top selection. In a draft class labeled as weak and unimpressive, Sarr stands out as the clear-cut best player. For a Wizards squad in need of a center and with a 14% chance at the No. 1 overall pick, a big man as talented as Sarr should slot as their top choice.

2. Nikola Topić (PG, Mega/Red Star)

Traditional foreign point guards are smart, shifty and fundamental. Those stereotypes are likely what drew Nikola Topić comparisons to Goran Dragić, one of the NBA’s shiftiest PG’s of the 2010’s. Topić may play like Dragić, but the 18-year-old has a lot more to his game.

At 6-foot-6, Topić’s size is his best asset. The Serbian point guard is able to see over defenders in pick & rolls, scanning the court for open teammates. We’ve seen a revolution in larger point guards with Ben Simmons and Luka Dončić, two guys that have had success in those roles.

Enter Topić into that conversation.

Like most European players, Topić began his professional career at an early age. At 16 years old, Topić suited up for his premiere EuroLeague game. Two years later, he averaged 18.4 points and 7.1 assists for Mega of the ABA. The Serbian controlled Mega’s offense, playing point guard against tough overseas competition.

Turnovers — 3.2 per game — were an issue, as is typical with most young PG’s. However, his shot is the biggest concern. Topić knocked down just 25.9% of his deep balls, a concerningly low clip for NBA GM’s. His limited shooting ability has even knocked him outside the top five on many Big Boards.

For a Wizards team in need of high-upside talent, Topić should be top three on their board. 6-foot-6 point guards are hard to come by, so passing on one, especially a player of Topić’s caliber, isn’t advised.

3. Rob Dillingham (PG, Kentucky)

Undersized? Yes. Skinny? Yes. Freakish athlete, skilled shotmaker and impressive court vision? Yes as well.

The questions surrounding Rob Dillingham’s frame are warranted:

Can he see over defenders in the pick & roll?

Will he be able to finish at the rim against bigger bodies?

Is he going to be a liability on defense?

Dillingham has a unique opportunity to silence the doubt in 2024, but first, he must show scouts what he can do.

At Kentucky, the 6-foot-3, 176-pounder averaged 15.2 points and 4.0 assists, shaking defenders en route to easy buckets. Dillingham’s best performance came against Tennessee’s top-ranked defense, dropping 35 points on 14-of-20 shooting (6-8 3PT).

What Dillingham lacks in size, he makes up for in efficient buckets. Kentucky’s PG shot an outstanding 44% from three on 4.5 attempts per game. Dillingham is possibly the best long-ball shooter in the draft for a league that essentially requires three-point prowess. He probably doesn’t go top two, but if Washington sits at No. 3 and Dillingham is there, I’d be hard-pressed to find a more intriguing prospect than the Kentucky PG.

About Greg Finberg

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