After quizzing about 15 players for 30 minutes each at the NBA combine in Chicago, the Wizards are now moving on to the next phase of the evaluation process as they will welcome the top candidates for the No. 3 overall pick to Verizon Center this week for individual workouts.
The Wizards will bring in three candidates, beginning Wednesday with local product Thomas Robinson from Kansas. Florida shooting guard Bradley Beal will work out on Thursday, followed by Kentucky swingman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist on Friday. All three players are projected to be top-five picks in the June 28 draft.
Robinson has already expressed a desire to play for his hometown Wizards and will have the first opportunity to prove to them that they should invest their top draft pick in the 6-foot-9 power forward. Robinson, Beal and Kidd-Gilchrist could also be scooped up at No. 2 by Charlotte — or any team that is willing to move up in a draft where the only certainty is that Anthony Davis will go first overall to New Orleans.
“I think that I’ll be the most ready to go out of the group,” Robinson said last week in Chicago. “I think that my game is stuff that you really can’t teach, like rebounding, playing hard, so. I think that will help me at the next level.”
Beal smiled when asked how he and Kidd-Gilchrist, a former Southeastern Conference rival, find themselves battling once again after dueling in some capacity for past few years. “It’s competition,” Beal said. “I’ve played against him almost all of my life and throughout high school and through college. I think we kind of know each other’s game and we’ve both improved in most areas.”
Most of the top prospects did not participate in drills at the NBA combine, but Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld said the team was able to get some much-needed information during their meet-and-greet sessions with the players. They met with Robinson, Beal, Kidd-Gilchrist, North Carolina players Harrison Barnes, John Henson, Tyler Zeller and Kendall Marshall, Andre Drummond and Jeremy Lamb from Connecticut, Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger, Washington guard Terence Ross, Duke guard Austin Rivers, Mississippi State forward Arnett Moultrie, Illinois center Meyers Leonard and Vanderbilt guard John Jenkins, among others.
“The players seemed well prepared,” Grunfeld said. “They were honest, well-spoken and we got an opportunity to meet them a little bit and now we’ll bring some of them in to Washington and get an opportunity to spend more time with them.”
The Wizards have three picks in the upcoming draft, including Nos. 32 and 46. With the lockout pushing back the NBA lottery and the NBA combine back a few weeks, teams have less time to evaluate players in advance of the draft. But Grunfeld said the adjustment hasn’t been too difficult.
“There is a little less time,” he said, “but besides that, the process is the same as it has been.”