During the free agency frenzy of Summer 2016, the Washington Wizards were in desperate need of multiple big men after the loss of Nene and the lack of depth and the center and power forward positions. The Wizards dealt out overvalued contracts to mediocre big men Ian Mahinmi, Jason Smith, and worst of all, Andrew Nicholson.
While Jason Smith lived up to his value, Mahinmi missed much of the season with recurring injuries, and Nicholson rode the bench for a majority of the season. As the Wizards began to make their playoff push after the All-Star break, it was clear that they needed to dump Nicholson and free up space for more depth on their roster at the two-guard and room for late season signings.
The Wizards dealt Nicholson, Marcus Thornton, and their first round pick (which became the 22nd pick) for sharpshooter Bojan Bogdanovic and rookie forward Chris McCullough. This move freed up lots of cap space and a spot on the roster, which would be used to sign veteran point guard Brandon Jennings.
While Bogdanovic will continue to be a positive additon to the Wizards’ bench, a back up scoring guard is needed to replace Trey Burke and fill in the guard spot opposite to Jennings in the Wizards’ smaller second unit.
Lucky for Washington, this year’s second round of the draft will be filled with sleepers that can add a huge scoring output off the bench.
Dwayne Bacon (G/SF) Florida State
Dwayne Bacon was one of the most pursued prospects in the class of 2015 coming off an illustrious career and Oak Hill Academy, which is known for producing talented guards like Brandon Jennings and Quinn Cook. Bacon committed to play at Florida State along with now Denver Nuggets guard Malik Beasley shortly before his senior season at Oak Hill.
Bacon’s first year at FSU was good, but not outstanding. He averaged a solid 15.8 points per game while shooting a respectable 44.7% from the field. His three point shooting dismal, as he shot just 28.1% from behind the arc. Despite his struggles and mediocre season, Bacon showed plenty of signs of maturity and promise for the future.
His second season at FSU showed a clear change in his game. His scoring became more reliable and versatile, as he jumped up to 17.2 points per game on 45.2% from the field. He was the true leader of the Seminoles, who were steadily ranked in the top 15 and earned a three-seed in the NCAA tourney.
Bacon is a dangerous slasher and finisher around the rim. His jab step and hip swivel combination catches his defenders off guard, allowing him to get to the rim for strong finishes. His handles pair well with his crafty footwork, which also allows him to get straight to the rim.
Bacon is not afraid of creating and drawing contact, which is becoming a rare quality in guards in today’s NBA. Bacon’s mid-range jump shot is well polished and a major strength of his, which is another skill that gives guards an upper-hand in matchups on bigger defenders.
In order to fit in with the Wizards system, Bacon must get faster. He is very broad and strong, which is good to have in a slashing guard, but he must be able to run the floor and get ahead of the faster defenders in the NBA. His three-point shot has to become more reliable in order for him to be an efficient spot-up shooter, especially when he will be playing with an exceptional passer in John Wall.
Bacon’s relentless work ethic and desire to get better is something to be valued highly. He will surely learn from playing behind one of the best combo guards in the NBA in Bradley Beal. Bacon could possibly be one of the biggest steals in this year’s draft , especially if he falls into the ideal system that the Wizards have in place.
Marcus Keene (PG) Central Michigan
Marcus Keene could possibly be the most slept on prospect in this year’s draft. Keene is a scoring machine, averaging 30.0 points per game, which made him the top scorer in all of Divison I by a margin of 4.9 points between the next leading scorer. Keene notched six games of 40 points or more, including one 50 point outing. His 44.7% shooting clip was reliable enough to lead him to the Wooden Award Late Season List.
At just 5’9, Keene’s crafty handles and shifty footwork allow him to free up space from his defenders to sink jumpshots in similar fashion to Isaiah Thomas. He is an incredibly dangerous scorer in all areas of the halfcourt, as his out-of-the-gym range and smooth finishing moves combine for a lethal scorer despite his short frame.
Keene transferred to Central Michigan after two years at Youngstown State, where Keene jumped from 6.5 to 15.6 points per game in his freshman and sophomore seasons respectively. Keene absolutely broke out this season with his ridiculous scoring outputs for Central Michigan.
While Keene is a deadly scorer, his game does have some concerns. The most obvious concern is that Keene is only 5’9 and the average NBA point guard is about 6’3. Keene needs to learn to use his height to his advantage in pick-and-roll situations, as he should be able to slip between defenders fluidly and make plays from that point on. His handles and ball control could be tighter, as he averaged close to five turnovers per game in his final season at Central Michigan.
Despite these concerns, Keene would land in the right system in Washington. His pre-draft workout with the Wizards went smoothly and he showed clear interest and desire to be with the Wizards’ franchise moving forward. Brandon Jennings is the perfect mentor for Keene, as Jennings’ explosive and crafty play style is similar to Keene’s, which will lead to a great teaching relationship between the two.
Nigel Williams-Goss (PG) Gonzaga
Nigel Williams-Goss is the most decorated player that would be available by the 52nd pick. After transferring from University of Washington, he was named the WCC Player of the Year, as well as a consensus second team All-American as he led Gonzaga to a top seed in the NCAA tourney and on their run to the National Championship game in his first and only season at Gonzaga.
Williams-Goss dominated as the Zags’ floor general. He averaged 16.8 points per game on a highly efficient 52.7% clip from the field. He also notched 4.7 assists per game and 5.0 rebounds per game, displaying his well-roundedness throughout the season. Williams-Goss also has a lengthy frame for a point guard, standing at 6’4 with a 6’7 wingspan, both valuable assets in today’s NBA.
Williams-Goss was also a reliable three-point shooter for the Zags, knocking down 37% from behind the arc. Williams-Goss’ best quality is perhaps his maturity and leadership. He was called the heart and soul of the Gonzaga team, which he led to a 37-2 record and multiple weeks atop the AP Top 25 poll. His length allowed him to develop into a good defensive prospect and one of the best rebounding guards in the draft class.
Despite his attributes and decorated career at Gonzaga, Williams-Goss has several holes in his game. Williams-Goss struggles when pressured in the half-court. He was able to knock down open looks consistently, but when pressured, his shooting percentage dipped heavily. He does not have the explosive first step that most elite guards have, which hinders his ability to sink jump shots off the dribble. Williams-Goss often found himself in half-court situations where he would panic and take contested floaters.
In order to become an immediately effective player, Williams-Goss must improve on his scoring versatility in the half-court when being pressured on-ball. Luckily, Williams-Goss will have the opportunity to learn from and play behind John Wall, a point guard who came into the league with doubts on his shot creation in the half-court. Obviously, Wall has turned into one of the most versatile guards in the NBA. With Goss-Williams’ shooting and rebounding skills, the opportunity to play behind Wall will help improve his half-court decision making and make him a valuable second-unit player for the Wizards.