What is the Wizards' biggest need ahead of the NBA Draft? originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
The Wizards have a variety of needs as they evaluate prospects for the ninth overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Which one will they choose to address?
We have assembled some of our Wizards analysts to answer a series of debate questions involving the upcoming draft. The latest asks the question:
What is the most important need the Wizards should address with the 9th pick?
Chris Miller: Rim protection is a need position for the Washington Wizards with the ninth overall pick. Last year was a struggle for Washington defending the rim, rebounding the ball and limiting opponents' paint points. Given the way the league is trending, bigs with multiple skill sets like Denver’s Nikola Jokic and Miami’s Bam Adebayo, drafting somebody who can set screens and roll to the basket, even a pick and pop threat, will open the floor for John Wall and Bradley Beal to find driving lanes to the rim with much better floor spacing. Defensively, last season Washington ranked 29th in opponents points per game (119.1).
Chase Hughes: Rim protection. The Wizards were one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA last season and the fact they allowed the third-highest field goal percentage within five feet of the basket certainly stands out. They also desperately need rebounding, and they need to give John Wall some help as he returns from Achilles surgery. Putting a rim protector behind him would ask him to do less on defense, which would be smart. Really, the Wizards have been searching for rim protection for many, many years (see: Ian Mahinmi). But one thing they haven't tried in quite some time is drafting one, which is arguably the only way to find them, as teams that have rim protectors don't let them go. The good news is they should have options between Onyeka Okongwu (if he's still there), Precious Achiuwa and Jalen Smith.
Tyler Byrum: Rim protector. There's no denying that one of the biggest needs for Washington is rim protection and cleaning up the glass, both of which the Wizards ranked near the bottom in 2019-20. The opposition in the East is getting bigger with Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Domantas Sabonis and Bam Adebayo, with no one able to cover or counter those guys in D.C. consistently. An upgrade in that positional group would really balance the roster and turn them into a true threat in the East. There are limited options for the Wizards, though, in this draft. James Wiseman and Onyeka Okongwu could easily be off the board at No. 9, but they might be too early in the lottery to take a Precious Achuiwa or Jalen Smith. If they go this route, we may see some movement with the Wizards' pick.
Quinton Mayo: A rim-protecting center. Whether it's James Wiseman or Onyeka Okungwu, Washington needs a dog that is going to roam the paint and make it tough on guys coming into the restricted area. They also need a big that's going to position himself on the floor for easy baskets while creating opportunities for other teammates through the use of solid screens -- off-ball, as well as on. Last year's historically bad defense showed how important it is for Washington to incorporate a defensive anchor into the fold, I can't imagine them ignoring that heading into one of the most important years in franchise history.
Voting results: Rim protector 4, everything else 0
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