Finally, the highly anticipated results of the 2019 NBA Draft Lottery have come and the Washington Wizards, who came into the lottery with the sixth best odds of landing the number one overall pick, landed the ninth the pick in the upcoming draft. While obtaining a pick early in the lottery and having a chance to select odds on favorite to be the top pick Zion Williamson out of Duke, Murray State standout Ja Morant or talented lefty RJ Barrett Jr, would’ve been ideal, that doesn’t mean there won’t be impact players available late in the lottery when Washington is on the clock.
During the season, front court production defensively was a major issue for most of the season. Yes, once Trevor Ariza, Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis Jr came, around the trading deadline, they made an impact. Yet, it was too little too late as the mountain to climb to be a playoff team was too tough a task. Washington, has a team option to pick up the second year of a two year deal worth 40 million for Parker. That mean’s Parker will be on the books for 20 million next season if Washington exercises their team option. Portis is a restricted free agent and after his production late in the season, he will be a target for a number of teams. Ariza, a valuable wing for any team, is an unrestricted free agent. So is versatile forward and home grown product Jeff Green. Dwight Howard opted into the second year of his deal with Washington, however the veteran center is coming off an injury plagued season where he only played in nine games. Thomas Bryant played well, having a career year, but he wasn’t a consistent rebounder and rim protector. Reserve center Ian Mahinmi couldn’t get on the floor due to teams attacking him relentlessly off pick and roll actions, which resulted in foul trouble for Mahinmi early and often. It’s a lot of uncertainty up front for the Wizards and with a team currently over the league salary cap, relying on available exceptions and league minimum deals to build their roster, drafting someone who can produce right away up front instead of down the road is necessary.
With that being said, let’s take a look at some prospects that has the potential to do just that. We start with Duke Freshman wing Cameron Reddish.
Wingspan: 7’0 1/2
Standing Reach: 8’9 1/2
Reddish talent is undeniable and is tailored made for the NBA. His combination of size, skill, athleticism and versatility just exudes All NBA potential. Seeing Reddish throughout high school as a 6’8 point guard, doing it all, playing a national schedule, you could see how special of a player he was. In college, he had to sacrifice that aspect of his game obviously to make things worth with Tre Jones and RJ Barrett when it came to ball handling duties. So it’s not surprising that people overlook his playmaking ability and tend to focus on his potential as a shooter and scorer. It’s also his combination of being a playmaker and scorer that has me looking at Reddish potential as a blend of Penny Hardaway and Paul George.
High praise I know, however, the tools are there. Along with being a good playmaker, Reddish is also a good shooter, has the ability to score from all three levels especially off the bounce and is a reliable free throw shooter. That’s just his offensive abilities, his potential on defense is where he can truly separate himself from other players in the NBA. With his size (6’8) and wingspan (7’0 ½), Reddish if he applies himself, could be a potential all nba defensive team selection throughout his career. He can defend multiple positions, close out on shooters well, contend well at the rim, get steals and deflections and a part of defense that is ignored….rebound! As I’ve said, he’s the total package.
Concerns not just from myself but from many evaluators is with his motor, undisciplined defense at times and his shooting efficiency. Shooting efficiency I’m not as worried about as other things due to his good shooting mechanics. Looking at film, Reddish issues shooting the ball comes when he fades and force bad shots. Those are easily correctable issues as long as he’s open minded and willing to adjust. The motor, energy and at times shaky defense is more of an issue. Having a high motor, always being engaged, bringing energy is indeed a skill and it wins games at every level, especially in the NBA. For example see Draymond Green and how his motor and energy lifts Golden State. Reddish has too many instances, even going back to high school, where he in a sense is just out there, not being engaged, especially if his shot isn’t falling. If he does that at the next level, teams will attack him relentlessly to eliminate him being a threat for that game. He can’t let things not going his way dictate his energy. He can go set a screen, grab more rebounds, swarm the opposing team defensively, find a way to still make an impact to help the team even when your shot isn’t falling or number isn’t called. Dominate making winning plays. It matters. For a blueprint look at Kawhi Leonards performance throughout the Eastern Conference Finals.
On defense, stay disciplined. That’s it. Reddish, while athletic, isn’t a freak athlete compared to what he’s about to face night in night out. LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant among others await and being undisciplined defensively won’t end well for the soon to be rookie. When Reddish is low, balanced and locked in, he’s an excellent on ball defender. However when he gambles for steals, is out of position, and doesn’t consistently see man and ball, it gets him and his team into trouble. Some players can get away with doing that at times due to their elite athleticism which helps their ability to recover, Leonard and Antetokounmpo comes to mind. Reddish isn’t there yet athletically and has to be more fundamentally sound. When he is, he’s a problem.
It appears that the first three selections will be Reddish college teammate Zion Williamson, Murray State’s Ja Morant and another teammate of Reddish, RJ Barrett. That means Reddish can go anywhere from 4th to the Lakers to 10th to the Hawks. Washington may have a shot at him and if there aren’t any bigs they feel confident enough in to make an immediate impact, Reddish might be the player to take. He could help take the load off of Beal and Wall (when he returns) offensively and be a welcomed addition defensively where he can defend the two, three and some fours. For a team in desperate need of talent with a limited amount of cap space to do so, drafting well is a must, preferably for a player with an All NBA ceiling.