6 Wizards draft prospects to watch in NCAA Tournament originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
The Wizards will keep their 2023 first-round pick if they miss the playoffs, as it is lottery protected. If that ends up being the case, they may draft one of the stars of the NCAA Tournament, which starts this week.
With that in mind, here are some NBA Draft prospects for Wizards fans to keep a close eye on as they watch the games…
Brandon Miller, Alabama
Key stats: 19.6 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 40.1 3PT% (7.6 3PA/g)
NBC Sports Washington mock draft: 4th
Plays Thu. at 2:45 p.m. vs. Texas A&M CC
As things stand now, the Wizards would have to get some lottery luck to be in a position to draft Miller, as he appears to be a top-5 pick at a minimum and could possibly go as high as No. 2. He’s an elite offensive talent with no obvious weakness on that end of the floor. His three-point shooting is special, he can create off the dribble and he’s a dynamic, above-the-rim athlete. Miller has the potential to be a 20-point scorer and perennial All-Star at the NBA level. He also happens to have played for Bradley Beal’s AAU team. The Wizards would just have to do their due diligence on Miller’s well-publicized off-court incident.
Jarace Walker, Houston
Key stats: 11.1 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1.0 bpg, 1.0 spg
NBC Sports Washington mock draft: 6th
Plays Thu. at 9:20 p.m. vs. Northern KY
I’m not as high on Walker as most mock drafts seem to be, I think he will go later in the lottery while many have him near the top-5, but there are some things to like about his potential fit with the Wizards. He would bring an element unique to their current roster with his physical, bruising style of play. He’s also a disruptive defender, which they could use more of. Walker has flashed some shot creation ability that could suggest a high upside. If the Wizards drafted him, though, his best path to minutes early on would likely be on the defensive end. He and Deni Avdija would have some overlap, so that may be worth noting in terms of his immediate fit in Washington.
Nick Smith Jr., Arkansas
Key stats: 14 G, 14.0 ppg, 39.1% FG
NBC Sports Washington mock draft: 7th
Plays Thu. at 4:30 p.m. vs. Illinois
The sample size for Smith remains small as his freshman year was basically cut in half due to injuries. He also did not seem to be 100 percent in some of the games he did play, which could help explain his low shooting percentages. You could tell by watching his games the usual burst wasn’t there and that was likely tough to manage given he’s a slashing wing. Smith, though, was widely regarded as one of the top players in this class coming out of high school. The NCAA Tournament could be a big opportunity for him to remind NBA scouts of his potential. Like Miller, Smith was also on Beal’s AAU team, so the Wizards would have an inside track on his background.
Anthony Black, Arkansas
Key stats: 12.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 4.2 apg, 2.0 spg, 3.2 to/g
NBC Sports Washington mock draft: 8th
Plays Thu. at 4:30 p.m. vs. Illinois
Black is one of the best fits for the Wizards in this entire draft. He is a tall point guard who brings versatility to both ends of the floor. If the Wizards drafted him, he would represent a long-term plan at point guard the likes of which they haven’t had since John Wall. If the Wizards kept Kyle Kuzma (6’10”) and Kristaps Porzingis (7’3″), and plugged Black (6’7″) in at point guard, they would have a size advantage on every team they faced. Black is a creative passer and could form a dangerous pick-and-roll duo with Porzingis. The Wizards would be a great situation for him to develop early in his career, as his outside shooting may take some time to come around. He also needs to cut down his turnovers. On the Wizards, he wouldn’t be asked to do much offensively with the talent they have at other positions.
Cason Wallace, Kentucky
Key stats: 11.6 ppg, 4.2 apg, 3.5 rpg, 2.0 spg
NBC Sports Washington mock draft: 10th
Plays Fri. at 7:10 p.m. vs. Providence
Wallace could be a great option for the Wizards if they pick in the back half of the lottery and if Black is off the board. He would also give them a long-term point guard and provide defense at the position. He’s also got good size for a point guard at 6-foot-4 and does a nice job running an offense. Wallace doesn’t project to an impact scorer at this point, but that would be fine given the makeup of the Wizards’ roster. Wallace could be an ideal glue guy point guard for the Wizards. Wallace would likely come off the bench in his first year, but could develop into a starter just in time for when Monte Morris and Delon Wright’s contracts expire the following summer.
Gradey Dick, Kansas
Key stats: 14.1 ppg, 1.4 spg, 39.9% 3PT (5.8 3PA/g)
NBC Sports Washington mock draft: 11th
Plays Thu. at 2 p.m. vs Howard
Dick has a chance to be one of the best players on the board if the Wizards are picking later in the lottery and would also be a great fit for what they need. He’s a wing who brings excellent three-point shooting, speed in transition and the ability to force turnovers on the defensive end. Early on he could provide scoring off the bench, while developing into their starting three in the long-term. Corey Kispert has emerged as a top-shelf three-point shooter for the Wizards. Pairing him with Dick could turn the Wizards’ second unit into a real strength offensively.