2022 NBA Draft: Could Blake Wesley be worth the wait for Wizards at guard?

Could Blake Wesley be worth the wait for Wizards? originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The Washington Wizards have the 10th overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select…

2022 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Profile: Blake Wesley

Team: Notre Dame

Position: Guard

Age: 19

Height: 6-4

Weight: 187

Wingspan: 6-9

2021/22 stats: 35 G, 14.4 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2.4 apg, 1.3 spg, 0.1 bpg, 40.4 FG% (5.1/12.6), 30.3 3PT% (1.5/5.1), 65.7 FT% (2.7/4.1)

Player comparison: Reggie Jackson, R.J. Hampton

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 22nd, Sports Illustrated 21st, Ringer 19th, Athletic 19th, ESPN 22nd, NBADraft.net 18th, Bleacher Report 19th

5 things to know:

-Wesley is a combo guard that is likely going to start out as a two and may end up staying there permanently. He’s a gifted athlete with the speed and leaping ability to suggest a high ceiling at the next level. But he’s very young and has a raw skillset, so any team that drafts him will be banking on his long-term upside and likely taking on a developmental project.

-He’s not the smoothest offensive player but shows flashes of feel for the game off the dribble and around the rim. He is comfortable creating his own shot off the bounce, but will likely need to speed up his moves for them to work on NBA defenders. When Wesley gets up the in air, he has good instincts for avoiding shot-blockers. He can adjust and is patient in waiting for his opportunity to strike. That could be a valuable trait in the NBA where the defensive players are bigger, longer and more athletic than the ones he faced in college.

-Wesley was productive as a freshman at Notre Dame, but more so with volume numbers than efficiency. He would likely be drafted much higher if he didn’t shoot as poorly as he did, not only from the field and the 3-point line but also on free throws. Those three numbers suggest he needs quite a bit of work and repetition to develop an outside shot. NBA teams will need to project what type of shooter he can be to get an accurate assessment of him as a prospect.

-He also appears to have considerable potential as a defensive player. Wesley has the athletic gifts to be a tough wing defender and has a solid motor on that end of the floor. He averaged 1.3 steals per game and was particularly good at jumping passing lanes. He has a knack for turning steals into points on the other end. The right coaching staff could turn him into the type of scrappy ball-stopper any team would like to have in their system.

-Wesley comes from a basketball family. His father, Derrick, is one of the best players in Ball State University history. His sister, Taylor, played for Indiana University – South Bend.

Fit with Wizards:

While it’s possible Wesley moves up draft boards into the Wizards’ range, he doesn’t seem to be a great fit for Washington, even though they need help at guard. Maybe if they traded back he could make sense, but as of now they are likely to have better options with the 10th overall pick at his position and ones that project to make a more immediate impact, particularly at point guard where they are in search of a long-term starter.

If the Wizards did somehow land Wesley, he would very likely start out on their bench and possibly out of the rotation altogether, depending on the other guards they add this offseason. It would be more of a long-term play and one they could perhaps justify. The hope would be he is ready for a rotation spot in Year 2 and to be much more than that in the years to come.

Long-term, Wesley could certainly fit what the Wizards need. It has been quite a while since they drafted a guard in the first round, so they could use some upside in the backcourt. And his defensive potential is intriguing for a team that needs help on that end of the floor and particularly in the form of a ball-stopping guard. Also, if they do see him as a two, he would have little pressure developing behind Bradley Beal and a very good two-guard to learn from. 

It’s nothing against Wesley, but the Wizards can probably find someone who fits them better and checks off more boxes for them if they stay at the 10th pick.

2022 NBA Draft profiles:

Jabari Smith Jr., Auburn

Chet Holmgren, Gonzaga

Jaden Ivey, Purdue

Paolo Banchero, Duke

Keegan Murray, Iowa

Shaedon Sharpe, Kentucky

Johnny Davis, Wisconsin

Jalen Duren, Memphis

Dyson Daniels, G-League Ignite

Ousmane Dieng, International

Tari Eason, LSU

This article was written by WTOP’s news partner, NBC Sports Washington. Sign up for NBC Sports Washington’s free email subscription today.

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