Wizards GM says team may aim to find slow-developing hidden gem in draft

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In every draft, there is one guy who falls through to the teens, but a few years later ends up maxing out his talent in a way nobody predicted. In 2013, another down draft — as this year’s is expected to be — Anthony Bennett went No. 1 (Victor Oladipo went second, but the next best player in the top nine is Otto Porter) but the Bucks rolled the dice on a player named Giannis Antetokounmpo at No. 15. That’s worked out pretty well.

Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard says his team will be looking for that guy, that Washington in a position to be patient and bring someone along slowly. Sheppard did a Twitter Q&A last week on the Wizards team account and said this about the draft (at tip Chase Hughes at NBC Sports Washington).

“I think when you look at our roster and you see eight players 23 or younger, we can probably take a swing at somebody and they’re not going to have to help us immediately next year. If that player is there, certainly we do that.”

The Wizards will head into the Draft Lottery (whenever it takes place) with the ninth-worst record in the league. However, with the return of John Wall in the backcourt with Bradley Beal, plus the hoped re-signing of Davis Bertans and the growth of Rui Hachimura, the Wizards expect to leap up into the playoffs next season.

There will not be a rookie who can help them right now, so why not pick and try to develop a player who will be more of a late bloomer, one who in three or four years other fan bases will ask “how did we miss that guy?”

That sounds good. The question becomes, assuming the Wizards find this player, do they have the coaching and development staff to bring him along? And who will be the coach in a couple of years? Still, this kind of long-term thinking is good for the Wizards.

The 2020 NBA Draft is scheduled for June 25, but teams are asking for it to be pushed back to August or later. That likely happens.