The Washington Wizards find themselves in a very strange place heading into the summer of 2019. Having built around John Wall and Bradley Beal for the last few seasons, it feels as though Washington already missed their chance to make a run at an Eastern Conference title.
While Beal had one of the best seasons in franchise history, Wall missed over half the year due to injury and is likely miss the first half of the 2019-20 season as well.
Without Wall and Dwight Howard in the lineup, the Wizards stumbled to just 33 wins despite the utter brilliance of Beal, as the team lacked any sort of defensive presence and ranked towards the bottom of the league in terms of three-point field goal percentage.
The result was acquiring the rights to the No. 9 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, where Washington will have some decisions to make.
The Wizards dodged a bullet when Beal did not make any of the All-NBA teams (therefore not gaining eligibility for a supermax extension this summer), but they are still paying him and Wall over half of their salary cap money, and Ian Mahinmi will make over $15 million next year (yikes).
Will Washington trade back, or make their selection. Given their awkward situation, they may need to be bold with the ninth pick. Which makes Bol Bol an interesting prospect.
Here are three reasons that the Wizards should consider taking Bol Bol at the No. 9 spot.
3. Two-way frontcourt player
Bol’s height alone (7’2″) makes him an interesting candidate, particularly considering that the Wizards could pair him with Howard in the frontcourt.
The Wizards need shot blockers, and Bol would almost certainly be able to fill that role. He played just nine games in his freshman season at Oregon, but he also averaged 2.7 blocks per contest.
Additionally, Bol is an incredibly versatile scorer. He can fill it up from the post using his height and an assortment of floaters and jump hooks, but he can also step out and shoot the three. Bol shot 52 percent from beyond the arc, and in that regard he would provide value in the pick-and-pop as well as being a contrast in styles to the traditional post presence of Howard.
Again, Washington is in desperate need of an impact player in the frontcourt to compliment both Wall and Beal.
Bol’s ability to block shots and shoot the three immediately fills multiple holes, and his sheer size alone would act as somewhat of a deterrent for opponents looking to drive into the lane.
Of course, Bol has absurd size and length. His height and wingspan were second only to Tacko Fall of UCF at the NBA Draft Scouting Combine in Chicago.
But Bol has also proven that he can cover ground in a hurry and is an extremely valuable help defender with excellent coordination and timing. His side-to-side agility is fantastic, and he even displayed an assortment of turnaround jumpers in the post that could make him that much more unguardable on the offensive side of the ball.
This same mobility and coordination also might dampen some of the concerns over the injury history of 7-footers, including Bol’s father Manute Bol. Rarely has a player with his kind of frame been nearly as athletic or agile as Bol, and thus he might project better than his peers (from a historical standpoint) in terms of longevity.
Of course, we are also talking about a player that made just nine appearances in his freshman season and already had to undergo foot surgery.
Still, some of the physical traits Bol possesses outside of his size make for an enticing prospect.
1. Take a risk
As has been noted, the Wizards need to push the envelope. Wall is locked down for the foreseeable future, and whether they decide to keep Beal or flip him in the coming years, they need players that have All-Star potential.
For all of the concerns over his injury, Bol Bol is that kind of talent. He compares to Kristaps Porzingis in terms of his ability to stretch the floor and score from just about anywhere, but he unquestionably projects as a far better shot blocker and overall defender.
While guys like Jaxson Hayes, Brandon Clarke or Goga Bitadze may have the developmental tools to become productive frontcourt players, Bol could immediately step in and assist the Wizards in two areas of need, which is as good a reason as any to draft a player outside of Bol’s potential.
Given their situation, the Wizards may as well sell high on Bol’s talent and accompanying marketability.