5 College Players That Could Be Future Washington Wizards
The Washington Wizards are likely to be drafting in the top five of the upcoming NBA draft. They also have two second-round picks, which they might be able to package for a late first-rounder from teams such as Oklahoma City and San Antonio, which already boast great depth and don't need to pay a player first-round money to ride the bench.
John Wall has played well since returning from injury, and the Wizards have played considerably better with him on the court. Still, he has yet to reach his true potential, mostly due to health problems.
Bradley Beal has played great as a rookie, winning Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month honors in December and January. He is a favorite to snag the award for February as well. He has showed the signs of a great scorer and his game will only improve. The Wall/Beal duo has been working and shows great promise for the future.
With a top-five pick, the Wizards will look to draft either a small forward or power forward. There are no great centers available worthy of a high pick, so they will have to wait until round two. Jan Vesely is a certified bust and Trevor Ariza is an average player set to make over $7 million next season. Martell Webster has been surprisingly good, but is a free agent better suited to come off the bench.
Nene and Emeka Okafor combined will cost the Wizards over $27 million next season. Neither is an All-Star-caliber player and Nene has only started 30 games this season. Additionally, both players are over 30 years of age.
*Players featured are based on the assumption that they will declare for the NBA draft as underclassmen.
Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA
WT: 225 lbs.
Stats: 18.2 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.0 APG
Shabazz Muhammad is one of the nation's best players as a freshman. He leads a good UCLA team in scoring, and is one of the biggest reasons why they're competing for a Pac-12 title. Offensively, Muhammad can score in a variety of ways and is probably the most complete player in college basketball. He has great athleticism and an NBA-ready body.
A Beal/Wall/Muhammad (BMW) backcourt is really exciting, both for the present and future. In three seasons of playing together, they'll all still be under 25 years of age. Muhammad would give the Wizards the star they need at small forward and round out a great nucleus of young talent.
Cody Zeller, PF, Indiana
WT: 240 lbs.
Stats: 16.6 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1.3 BPG
Cody Zeller is the best player on the one of the best teams in the country. He is a skilled seven-footer who can play power forward or center and has a refined offensive game. What he lacks in athleticism, he more than makes up in work ethic and "hustle." He's a good defender and would add much needed size to the Wizards' frontcourt.
Nene is due $13 million next season while Emeka Okafor is due over $14 million next season. Both of their salaries are much too high and their output in no way justifies their pay. Expect one, or both, to be released. By drafting Zeller, the Wizards would be adding a young frontcourt player that would be an immediate contributor.
Otto Porter Jr., SF, Georgetown
WT: 205 lbs.
Stats: 15.9 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 2.4 APG
Otto Porter Jr. has emerged as one of the best players in the country. He is the star for a Georgetown team that has surprised the college basketball world, and his 33 points in a win over Syracuse has proven him to be a big-game player, placing him in national player of the year contention. Not to make too lofty of a comparison, but his game and size is very similar to that of Scottie Pippen.
At best, he's Scottie Pippen, and at worst, he's Tayshaun Prince.
Martell Webster has far exceeded expectations, and has churned out a good season. He is a solid player that is better suited as a sixth man. Trevor Ariza is due over $7 million next season, grossly overpriced for a utility player. Arguably the Wizards' biggest need is at small forward, and drafting Porter would give them a versatile player with much potential and the ability to start immediately.
Erick Green, PG, Virginia Tech
WT: 185 lbs.
Stats: 25.2 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 4.1 APG
Scoring has been hard to come by for the Wizards, and Erick Green does just happen to be the nation's leading scorer. Green is listed as a point guard, but would likely play more naturally at the 2. He is a true scorer and very consistent to boot. A four-year player who has improved every year, Green has only played one game this season in which he scored less than 15 points.
The Wizards have two second-round picks, and would be wise to add some quality bench depth. After trading away Jordan Crawford, the team is lacking a spark from the bench. Green would give the Wizards quality minutes at either the point guard or shooting guard position, and is a value pick in the second round. Green would contribute more, especially on offense, than current reserves A.J. Price and Garrett Temple.
Kenny Kadji, PF/C, Miami
WT: 242 lbs.
Stats: 12.7 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 1.4 BPG
The Wizards have a solid group of hard-nosed big men, but none is an offensive threat. Nene and Okafor are both overpaid, and if either is released in the offseason, the Wizards need to add a quality big man that can provide some offense from the post.
Kenny Kadji can stretch the floor with his perimeter shooting (37 percent from beyond the arc), and possesses a versatile scoring ability. By adding some weight, Kadji could also provide valuable minutes at the center position. As a second-round selection, Kadji offers the Wizards a player that can add quality minutes, especially offensively.