The Washington Wizards have one of the best young backcourts in the NBA in point guard John Wall and shooting guard Bradley Beal, and they’ve done a nice job drafting while also making key free-agent acquisitions to build a successful team in the Eastern Conference. The Wizards have had five first-round picks in the last five years; three within the first six picks paired with four second-round selections. When looking back at how the Wizards took advantage, it’s a bit of a mixed bag.
Starting with the 2011 draft, Washington had two first-round picks and one in the second. At pick No. 6, the Wizards selected athletic combo forward Jan Vesely — who had two dismal seasons for Washington before being traded to the Denver Nuggets in February 2014. Their second first-round pick was used on another combo forward in Chris Singleton. However, Singleton only played three seasons with the Wizards and didn’t do much. He was signed and waived by the Indiana Pacers before the 2014-15 season, so he’s played overseas and in the D-League ever since. Their second-round pick — 34th overall — was used on combo guard Shelvin Mack, who remains in the league today on a nice contract with the Atlanta Hawks.
In 2012, the Wizards took their shooting guard of the future in Beal with the third overall pick, and he’s improved immensely to get to where he is today. Beal has turned into one of the most prolific young shooting guards in the league and should continue to develop as he matures. Washington also took combo guard Tomas Satoransky at 32nd overall, and it doesn’t appear that the 24-year old will ever come overseas after signing a two-year deal with FC Barcelona Lassa in July 2014. Looking back on this draft, Beal was not only the safe pick, but the perfect one to pair alongside Wall to help grow this franchise for the future.
The Wizards had only one pick in the 2013 draft (No. 3), and they took Otto Porter Jr. Porter has turned into a solid NBA player, and there’s still a bit of upside remaining in his game after getting off to a slow start as a rookie, where the game was oftentimes moving too fast for him. Porter took things into his own hands last playoffs, averaging 10.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.2 steals while shooting well from deep. It’s set up a successful start to this season, where he’s averaging career-highs across the board. The Porter pick has given the Wizards a perimeter triumvirate capable of sticking with some of the best teams in the league. Their 2013 second-rounder was traded away in the Ronny Turiaf deal in December 2010, leaving Porter as their lone selection in the draft.
In October 2013, the Phoenix Suns traded Marcin Gortat, Kendall Marshall, Shannon Brown and Malcolm Lee to the Wizards for Emeka Okafor and their 2014 first-round pick (which turned into Tyler Ennis), leaving them with one lone second-round pick. But the Wizards decided to trade that pick as well — trading the 46th overall selection to the Los Angeles Lakers for cash considerations. The Lakers selected combo guard Jordan Clarkson, who should be a staple in their backcourt for years to come as one of the steals of the draft. The Wizards definitely could’ve made more of an impact on their roster with the second-round pick, but the production Gortat has provided since joining the Wizards has been significant to warrant making that deal for the first-rounder
Washington traded up this past draft — from the 19th pick up to 15th overall — sending two future second-round draft picks Atlanta’s way in the process. The Wizards selected swingman Kelly Oubre Jr., and the 19-year old who played at Kansas has very high upside. However, it might take some time to develop Oubre as he matures and transitions to the NBA level. Oubre was impressive in Summer League, but he’s only played in five games so far this season. The Wizards also traded away their 2014 second-rounder in the aforementioned Turiaf deal. It might take some time, but Oubre should develop into that extra quality swingman Washington needs in order to play a versatile lineup of Wall, Beal, Oubre, Porter and another big to play small ball and be able to space the floor.
Overall, it’s safe to say the Wizards have done a nice job maneuvering through each draft to bring in talent to build the roster. Washington has a bright future whether or not Oubre does develop, because it seems like the three core perimeter players are staples for Washington long term, which will be a problem for teams in the East as they continue to develop.