Wizards NBA Draft Debates: Trade up for Onyeka Okongwu or James Wiseman?

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The Wizards hold the ninth overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will be picking there.

General manager Tommy Sheppard has indicated they would like to move up in a trade. For that to happen, there would need to be a player they deem worthy going up for, as trading up in the top-10 can be costly.

We have assembled some of our Wizards analysts to answer a series of debate questions involving the upcoming draft. The first asks the question:

Which player is worth the Wizards trading up for and why?

Chris Miller: Onyeka Okongwu. Okongwu provides depth at a position of need for the Washington Wizards. Okongwu spent his lone college season playing for Andy Enfield, averaging 16.0 points 8.6 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game. He is a versatile big man whose defensive versatility and high basketball IQ blends instantly on any NBA roster. Several mock drafts have Okongwu not lasting past Detroit at seven. So, If Washington moves up in the draft, they might have to give up a young asset currently on the roster, a future pick, or both. Okongwu’s been compared to Miami Heat skilled big man Bam Adebayo. One NBA scout told me Adebayo entered the league more offensively developed, but Okongwu’s work ethic seems to be on par. Onyeka has all the measurables to be a plug-and-play prospect. His defense, scouts believe, will be translate right away.

Chase Hughes: Onyeka Okongwu. The Wizards likely wouldn’t need to move up far to get him, not as far as they would one of the top prospects in the draft, and he would fit what they need perfectly. The Wizards have to upgrade their rebounding, which was among the worst in the league this past season. And they desperately need help on defense, particularly with rim protection. Okongwu blocked 2.7 shots per game at USC last year and has the athleticism and instincts to switch onto smaller players. Defensively, he appears tailor-made for where the league is going at his position. Offensively, it may take some time as he doesn’t have a developed outside shot. But he definitely has some skills around the rim and in the midrange and wouldn’t be asked to do much on the Wizards with John Wall and Bradley Beal carrying the scoring load.

Tyler Byrum: James Wiseman. If the Wizards move up in the draft, there is only one player that would be worth their while to fit the team’s trajectory with a presumably healthy Wall and Beal. Selecting Wiseman immediately addresses Washington’s needs in the low post, with rim protection and rebounding, both of which the team ranked in the bottom seven of the NBA last season. The 7-foot-1 athletic center also has a higher ceiling than any option they could hope to select with the ninth overall pick. Getting him will be a tall task where the Wizards would likely have to trade up to the top three, perhaps the second overall pick. Although if the team hopes to return to perennial playoff contender, future picks won’t be as valuable the next couple of seasons.

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