The 2023 NBA Draft is less than two weeks away and there still is no clear indication of who the Washington Wizards are going to select with their no.8 pick. New team president Michael Winger and general manager Will Dawkins didn’t provide any clues regarding how the front office is leaning leading up to the draft. One name that keeps coming up as a potential Wizards pick is Cason Wallace, the 6’4 combo guard from Kentucky.
Wallace is one of the best perimeter defenders in this draft class. He is incredible at getting into players’ bodies, forcing steals and mistakes. He is strong and physical despite his short, slender stature. He has active hands and averaged 2 steals per game as a freshman. His effort level was high and his motor was impressive throughout his lone season at Kentucky.
There aren’t many questions about Cason Wallace’s defense. He will certainly be at least a good guard defender with the potential to be elite. There is a path in which he could get to a Jrue Holiday-level on defense, being able to guard 1 through 4. He needs to continue to get stronger for that.
Wallace doesn’t project to be an elite shot creator at the next level
The questions about Wallace are on the offensive end. He doesn’t have elite athleticism or size for his position. He doesn’t have the quickest first step, making it difficult for him to blow by his defender. This results in a lack of ability to create high-percentage shots for himself. If he doesn’t get better at creating separation, it will be hard for him to become a high-efficiency scorer in the NBA.
One way for Wallace to improve his shot creation is to work on his ball handling. His handles are not as tight as one would want from their starting point guard. He is not as comfortable going to his left as to his right. This may prevent him from being a good half-court creator.
However, Wallace’s passing is certainly encouraging. He averaged 4.3 assists and 2.1 turnovers in 32 minutes per game. He is not only a willing passer, but he also has great court vision and creative passes in his arsenal. For now, he projects as a pass-first point guard, which is not necessarily a bad thing depending on the team that drafts him.
A lot of Wallace’s scoring came through spot-up jumpers and in transition; both areas he excels in. Despite not having the most versatile jump shot, he is a capable shooter with 34.6% from downtown and 75% from the free-throw line. Whether he improves at these will be the swing skill that will decide the success of his NBA career.
The Wizards need to go for a higher-upside player than Cason Wallace
A defensive specialist who can pass and shoot at a decent level is a valuable player. Whether that value is enough to be picked with the no.8 pick is a different question.
Wallace can be a long-time starter in this league. The path for that is obvious. However, projecting him as an All-Star or All-NBA caliber player is very difficult. It is almost impossible to become a star point guard in the NBA without elite handles and off-the-dribble creation.
And the Wizards need a player with superstar upside. This draft is too loaded with talent to go for a low-ceiling type of player like Cason Wallace.