The Washington Wizards can learn from last year when they make their second-round pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.
During the 2019 NBA Draft, the Washington Wizards did something that was a bit unusual for them. They placed some real value on the second round of the draft. After years of watching Ernie Grunfeld treat second-round picks like fun coupons that he could trade in for expensive and aging veterans, Tommy Sheppard quickly separated from the old regime and bought into the second round.
The Wizards traded into the second round and received the 42nd overall pick. With the pick, they took Admiral Schofield out of Tennessee. Schofield was a solid prospect coming out of college: a strong athletic wing that could dunk so hard the rim came off, hit the three-ball with some consistency, and defend. Unfortunately, though, Schofield never really found his footing during the NBA season and spent most nights with the Capital City Go-Go. Aside from a few double-digit scoring performances from Schofield, his rookie season was largely forgettable, although he did show some progress.
Schofield is not doomed at the NBA level. But he needs to get more consistent from three (31.1 percent as a rookie) and get more comfortable defensively. He’s got the body to become a PJ Tucker-type if he can put it all together.
The thing is, Schofield wasn’t the most exciting player left on the board. That was Bol Bol. The unicorn prospect and son of Manute Bol was once considered a lottery pick but had plummeted down draft boards due to injury and maturity concerns. And as the season progressed, few folks were regretting passing on Bol. We didn’t see him suit up for the Denver Nuggets until the NBA was inside of the bubble in Orlando. But once Bol got his chance, he made everyone who passed on him look foolish.
The bubble scrimmages were Bol Bol’s coming out parties. How fitting that it all started against the Wizards. Bol recorded 16 points, 10 rebounds, and six blocked shots vs. Washington in his first scrimmage. Per ESPN’s Stats and Info, Bol became the first rookie to have at least 15 points, 10 rebounds, and five blocks in a preseason game in the last 20 years.
The dominant performance wasn’t a fluke. Bol followed that up with 15 points, three rebounds, three assists, and two blocks in the team’s next scrimmage, a loss to the New Orleans Pelicans. Bol was impressive again in the team’s final scrimmage, grabbing six rebounds to go along with 10 points.
Although Bol’s play dropped significantly once the game in the bubble became real, it took no time at all to see his potential in the bubble scrimmages.
And that is what the Washington Wizards should remember when they are on the clock with the 37th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Although there are several second-round success stories in the NBA, the second round isn’t where you usually find key contributors. With the odds against them, the Wizards are better suited taking a big risk and hoping it pays off rather than playing it safe.
The second round is the place to take some swings. If they work out, great! If they don’t, well, at least you didn’t sink much into that failed project. In the second round, consider a player’s ceiling, not his floor.
Scared money don’t make money, and that’s especially true when it comes to the second round of the NBA Draft. Passing on potential burned the Wizards last draft. Let’s hope they don’t make the same mistake twice.