Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard discusses upcoming NBA Draft, Bradley Beal’s future, and more

As of Monday, the Washington Wizards went into Thursday’s NBA Draft armed with the 10th overall pick after failing to move up (or down) at last month’s draft lottery. Following the team’s 13th public pre-draft workouts, team president and general manager Tommy Sheppard spoke to the media before a big summer for the Wizards gets underway.

Wizards GM Comments on “Big Summer” Ahead of NBA Draft 2022

“Really excited about having the 10th pick, they’re a lot of great players that we’re interested in,” Sheppard began his first media availability since the end of last season two months ago. “Try to show continued progress with this team, building this team is all about acquiring talent. You can acquire it through the draft, acquire it through free agency, acquire it through trade. We’re going to continue to do whatever we can to get the best possible team.”

Which NBA Draft Prospects are the Wizards Interested In?

The Washington Wizards have publically brought the likes of Dyson Daniels, Ochai Agbaji, Johnny Davis, Mark Williams, Jeremy Sochan, Blake Wesley, TyTy Washington, Tari Eason, Jaden Hardy, and MarJon Beauchamp to DC for pre-draft workouts in June. They have a clear need at point guard after the failed Spencer Dinwiddie experiment, Tomas Satoransky reportedly returning to play in Spain, and Ish Smith with a team option that Washington may not be able to afford to pick up if they want to stay under the luxury tax, but that doesn’t mean point guard will be the selection.

“For us, there’s not a position that we don’t need depth in. I don’t think we’re going to do anything but take the best player available at 10,” Sheppard broadly projected.

Sheppard is one to play his thoughts close to the vest. He has talked to all of the teams slated to draft in front of Washington in case a trade up is beneficial to the team, but also certainly has weighed trading back or out of the first round entirely. The Wizards have taken a closer look at several players that should be available outside of the lottery, five or more picks back from their current selection, which could be the best of both worlds to acquire a veteran point guard. Of course as the front office head noted, “there’s guys that we work out that nobody ever knows about.” Pre-draft workouts are only a small part about the basketball drills because a one hour workout is only going to sway a team’s view of you so much past the larger body of work in college, internationally, the G League, high school, an/or AAU.

“I don’t put a lot of stock into the workout itself. You can be an excellent shooter, come in and miss every shot and we know you’re an excellent shooter,” Sheppard reasoned. “We’re bringing them in for the interview, for the process, breaking you down, making you accountable for decisions. … A lot of these players are being interviewed without even knowing. We take them through an entire day. From the time they leave the hotel to the time they get on the airplane to leave here, they’ve talked to a lot of people without even knowing it. You download [information from] everybody. I don’t expect guys to be idiots around me or in front of our stuff, but maybe they betray themselves somewhere else, we’re going to find out about it. We just like to see your character.”

Bradley Beal Offseason Update

Probably the worst kept secret in Washington is that three-time All-Star Bradley Beal will remain on the Wizards going into next season. It would be tampering to say the two sides already have an agreement ahead of free agency moratorium on June 30 when the two sides are expected to officially meet first. Beal has 248 million reasons to re-sign for five years, especially knowing that in today’s player-empowered league, he could always ask out down the road. Part of the willingness to undergo season-ending wrist surgery midway through last season was to be healthy in advance of the 2022-23 season and both sides continually talk about the future indicating Beal’s return.

“I’ve never seen a better healer than Bradley Beal,” Sheppard echoed as he has before with Beal recently being cleared for full basketball related activites. “I fully anticipate him being ready well ahead of training camp. … I think Bradley would tell you he’s got a very big chip on his shoulder for the upcoming season. Injuries tend to minimize people’s value in the NBA.”

“I’m not worried about the noise outside, I just look at the player and I know that’s somebody you can build your franchise around,” Sheppard said possibly referring to a fan base that is less than pleased with the possibility of another supermax contract being handed out, handicapping the team’s salary cap. “I know he’s going to have a tremendous season coming up. Where he’s at right now, it’s not where he’ll be in a month. In two months as we get ready to go to Japan, I think he’ll be in full swing in terms of his shot.”

Sheppard Offers Praise to Wizards Head Coach

Los Angeles legend Jerry West once advised Sheppard that you cannot be afraid to take big swings. That is how Washington’s president views the Russell Westbrook and Kristaps Porzingis trade acquisitions that helped the Wizards in different ways without having to give up many future assets that would later hamstring an organization. Again an area where fans may not agree, Sheppard has unsurprisngly doubled down in support for his head coach hire last year.

“I think we made a big swing last summer, hiring Wes Unseld [Jr.]. Couldn’t be happier. I think he’s going to be one of the top, bright, young coaches in our game. The best thing about his first year is when it’s over,” Sheppard predicted a better season ahead for Unseld on the bench.