Several weeks ago, NBC Sports Washington analyst and former Division 1 national champion coach Jimmy Patsos gave his opinion on five NBA Draft prospects who could fall in the Wizards’ range at the 10th overall pick. But given where the Wizards are selecting, and the especially unpredictable nature of this class, five players is not a large enough sample size to cover every possibility.
So, we decided to break down five more with the help of a former Wizards assistant. Unlike Patsos, this coach will remain anonymous. Still, the insight is interesting, as we asked them two pressing questions for each player about their weaknesses, their upside and their potential fit in Washington.
Jeremy Sochan, F, Baylor
A lot of his value as a prospect seems to be potential, so where do you see the most potential in his game?
I think it’s being that hybrid wing where he can both be a playmaker and scorer. I think he has really good size. You look at the way big, versatile wings are valued in the NBA, I think that’s something just by watching him, especially in the NCAA Tournament, that’s something he brought to the table. It’s his versatility and his size to play the hybrid wing position.
Do you think he can contribute right away, or would it take some time before he can even earn a spot in the backend of the Wizards’ rotation?
I think his shooting is definitely going to have to improve. Size-wise, he can fit on the court right away. But with productivity, he’s going to have to become a better shooter. With improved shooting and then defensively, that’s always a hard one to project because they had him playing as a big. With the Wizards, he would have to play more on the wing. That would just have to be an adjustment. Sometimes it’s just hard to predict how quickly someone can adjust from guarding bigs to having to guard guys on the perimeter. He will have to prove he has the ability to switch effectively by defending multiple positions.
Jalen Duren, F/C, Memphis
Duren is known for his size and athleticism, but what skills stand out to you?
I think with him it’s the fact he has a really good motor and he understands his role. He’s someone that, he’s not going to play outside of his strengths. I think he could be a good 5-man. We saw it with Ian Mahinmi and Marcin Gortat, guys that weren’t floating on the perimeter, they were guys that fit their roles well. I think that’s been one of the holes the last couple of years, the Wizards have really needed a true five-man that can be a good screener and roller to the basket and open up the pick-and-roll game for some of their guards. He will need to polish up his finishing ability against NBA-level bigs instead of strictly relying upon athleticism and strength.
Without a perimeter game, do you see a path to stardom for him, and does that matter picking 10th overall or is it more important just to make sure you get a contributor who can be a starter?
It’s not often your 5-man can be a perimeter threat. Certainly, there are examples of that, but I think the value in having someone as athletic as him and as strong, someone who can roll to the basket and finish, serves such a need in the way the game is played now. I don’t think there should be a real concern in the fact he doesn’t have a perimeter game.
Ochai Agbaji, G, Kansas
What role do you think Agbaji would play on the Wizards given he plays the same position as Bradley Beal and may also overlap a bit with Corey Kispert?
Shooting is always a premium in the NBA. Just looking at some of his clips, just how fast he can get his shot off was really impressive. The fact that he led his team to a national championship. He’s someone that can really knock down open shots and defend at a pretty good level. He would come in and have a pretty specific role as a shooter, but he would definitely need to expand upon his game.
What his ceiling is seems to be a common question because he was very good in college and has the measurables to suggest upside, but he’s also 22. So what is his long-term potential?
I don’t think he will ever be a No. 1 or No. 2 option, but I think he can be a really good role player as a guy that if he reaches his potential could get 20-to-25 minutes per game. The NBA is certainly a specialty league where you kind of have to have a specialty to stick around. His is certainly shooting. If he continues to shoot at a good clip, I think he can definitely find his niche in the league. He’s an elite catch-and-shoot guard with a quick release and deep range. Has ability to run off screens. At times he showed ability to score off-the-dribble but will have to continue to broaden his offensive game both as a scorer and play-maker. A little undersized defensively but has a strong, physical frame. He will have to take on the challenge of guarding bigger and more athletic guards and wings at the next level.
A.J. Griffin, G/F, Duke
Griffin shot a very high percentage from 3 in college, 45%; but what skills do you see in his offensive game that could make him more than a shooter and that can make sure his shooting translates?
I think he has a little bit bigger body and frame [to fill out into]. I think he’s someone that has more of an expanded game than someone who will just be considered a shooter. It seemed like in the clips that I saw, he wanted to do a lot of things off the dribble. I think he’s going to have to be more efficient with his dribbling compared to what he did at Duke. That’s one thing that stuck out in my mind. I think he still has some issues with his form that he’s going to have to tighten up. He can improve his footwork to speed up his release.
There are mixed reviews about Griffin’s defense. How do you see his game on that end?
Well, certainly he played with a team that was up-and-down defensively this year. I think physically he has the size and the strength to be a versatile defender. A lot of it is want-to. He’s going to play a real specific role where it’s being able to knock down threes and being able to defend and his role might not be him being an option 1 or an option 2. It might be more him as a role player. To me, he’s more of a wing, a three, than he is a two. I think along with that he’s going to have to be ready to guard bigger players. I think that will be part of his projection; how well he can defend guys where, while he’s not 6’8″ or 6’9″, he’s going to have to go up against and defend those guys like Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum who are taller at his position.
Shaedon Sharpe, G, Kentucky
Just how good of an athlete is Sharpe?
Of course, he didn’t play at Kentucky this year, but there were some clips of him in the EYBL (Elite Youth Basketball League) season two years ago and he was definitely an elite athlete with elite jumping ability. He could be an elite defender with buy-in. To me, it’s a little bit like Jalen Green of Houston. I think that he has a lot of upside, it’s just so hard to project someone who the last film they had was them playing in AAU. Certainly, it’s going to be a jump for him and I think that he’s a wild card in the lottery right now. But in the film that I saw, [his athleticism] jumps off the screen. It’s all relative because he’s not in a game against NBA competition, but he’s in an environment with other athletes and good basketball players and it’s certainly something that jumped off the screen right away, his athleticism.
Do you see the feel for the game and basketball IQ and the things that will determine whether he can reach the potential that his athleticism would suggest?
That’s the one thing that was tough because when you’re watching an AAU tournament, it’s so individualized. It’s a lot of 1-on-1 that they’re playing. It’s hard to project how he will play in a team environment, but he was certianly taking and making tough shots. Now, that’s not to say taking and making tough shots in an EYBL game will translate to an NBA game, but he showed the ability to shoot off the dribble with pretty good range. I think it’s just a matter of him also understanding a role for him. Sometimes that’s a really tough thing to accept because all his life he’s been told he’s the best player in his class, now he’s going to have to go up against guys that are older and veterans that are just as talented as he is.
To read Patsos’ thoughts on Bennedict Mathurin, Dyson Daniels, Tari Eason, Johnny Davis and TyTy Washington, click here.