The 2020 NBA Draft has come and gone and the Washington Wizards didn't mess this one up, addressing two weaknesses on their roster through the draft Wednesday night.
The Wizards added swingman Deni Avdija from Israel with the ninth overall pick, and acquired Michigan State guard Cassius Winston later in the second round, in a pick swap with Oklahoma City. The Wizards traded Vit Krejci, the 37th overall pick, and Admiral Schofield to the Thunder in exchange for the draft rights to Winston, the 53rd overall pick, and Memphis' 2024 second-round pick (which was owned by Oklahoma City).
Here is what each selection brings to D.C.:
Deni Avdija (Small Forward)
Measurables: 6-foot-9, 225 pounds | Age: 19
From: Israel (Maccabi Tel Aviv)
Selection: 9th overall by WAS
2019 Stats: 12.3 PTS, 5.9 REB, 2.4 AST in 26.6 MPG on 52/35/35 shooting in Israeli League.
Most draft experts didn't expect Deni Avdija to fall to the ninth pick where Washington was able to scoop him up. Some are calling this selection the "steal of the draft", and it eventually could be. At just 19 with fluid size and the ability to defend 1-4 when needed, Avdija is a long-term project with a ton of upside.
Some have compared the Israeli standout to veterans Danilo Gallinari and Gordon Hayward. Others worrisomely mention Jan Vesely, the last European swingman selected by Washington (sixth overall, 2011), who was an electric dunker but didn't offer much else. As with their 2019 selection of Rui Hachimura (ninth overall), Avdija brings international appeal to the Wizards as he is the highest-drafted player from Israel in NBA history.
“For me just to represent my country and to make history, that’s a blessing,” Avdija said from Tel Aviv during a video conference with reporters Wednesday. “I have the whole nation behind me. I hope I’m going to represent well.”
Cassius Winston (Point Guard)
Measurables: 6-foot-1, 205 pounds | Age: 22
From: Michigan State
Selection: 53rd overall by OKC (via MEM); traded to WAS for the rights to Vit Krejci (37th overall pick) and Admiral Schofield
2019 Stats: 18.6 PTS, 5.9 AST in 32.7 MPG on 45/43/85 shooting as a senior at Michigan State.
Cassius Winston gives the Wizards a scoring threat off the bench as well as a more than reliable facilitator for the second unit. Assuming the team doesn't bring back Ish Smith, Winston has shown the ability to control the pace of the game at the highest level as well as become the go-to scoring option when needed. Smith has one year remaining on his deal, but at $6 million, it's likely the Wizards will move him in favor of cheaper option in Winston.
John Wall, who returns in 2020-21 after missing the better part of the past two seasons with an Achilles injury, is expected to play limited minutes as he slowly eases back into playing shape. Winston gives Washington a great insurance policy on the off chance Wall needs time off for "load management."
The Wizards have now had two productive drafts under general manager Tommy Sheppard, who ran their 2019 draft as interim GM after Washington parted with longtime GM Ernie Grunfeld earlier in the year. A renewed sense of direction for the franchise, along with two new fresh faces to cheer for, must be a comforting thought for Wizards fans.