Muscala could help Wizards' bench

Muscala could help Wizards' bench
June 18, 2013, 10:30 am
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Who will the Wizards take at 3?

Bucknell Bison center Mike Muscala (31) dribbles the ball during practice the day before the second round of the 2013 NCAA tournament at Rupp Arena.

(Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports)

On June 27, the Wizards will take part in the 2013 NBA draft. Currently the owner of picks 3, 38 and 54, the franchise could go in almost any direction with those selections - including trading them - as Washington attempts a sincere playoff push.

Washington's primary needs, some of which can be addressed during free agency, include adding overall scoring punch, finding a power forward with perimeter touch, a long-term answer at small forward, plus backups for John Wall and Bradley Beal. Between now and the draft, we’re going to identify some of the players the Wizards might target whether the team stays pat or moves around in the first round with analysis from coaches, scouts, beat writers and national analysts.

Up next, Bucknell forward Mike Muscala, who worked out for the Wizards earlier this month. Check below for a running list of all our draft profiles.

Mike Muscala, Bucknell

Draft Express overall ranking: No. 34

Height/Weight: 6-11.5, 230 lbs (combine data)

Key stats: 18.9 points, 11.3 rebounds, 2.3 blocks in 2012-13  

The player: It's not every day we have a four-year player with a back-to-the-basket game and a plethora of offensive moves to discuss. Welcome Mr. Muscala, the two-time Patriot League Player of the Year, who turned into a low block menace during his time with the Bison because of his ability to score with both hands and find open teammates. Owner of a solid shooting touch, Muscala knocked down over 50 percent of his field goal attempts and 80 percent of his free throws in three of his four seasons. Yet it's his work off the ball as a screener and offensive rebounder where Muscala can make an immediate impact on the pro level. His rebounding average rose four straight seasons and last season he ranked second nationally with 14.8 boards per 40 minutes, which also tied him historically with Kevin Love's freshman and only season at UCLA.

The fit: One reason the Wizards are seeking additional offensive weapons this offseason is because their young frontcourt, outside of occasionally Kevin Seraphin, provides little. The stretch-four need is frequently mentioned and Muscala can almost, sorta, kinda fill that role now. Though he has decent range, he attempted only 16 shots from beyond the 3-point arc last year, making only four. Considering his improvement at Bucknell, projecting him becoming effective even from the NBA line seems fair. Regardless, the Wizards lacked shot makers from anywhere outside of five feet. His 7-foot-1 wingspan will help offset the apparent lack of quickness on defense. For a team thinking playoffs, Muscala, who turns 22 next month, brings the experience of two NCAA Tournament appearances. 

The issue: It's unlikely that Muscala turns into more than a deep rotation option, though that's hardly an issue for a second round selection. Actually, it's hard to gauge with confidence what level of player he'll actually become because of his limited big man competition in the Patriot League and non-conference play. Facing Butler's 6-foot-11 center Andrew Smith in the NCAA Tournament, Muscala went 4 of 17 from the floor, but grabbed 10 rebounds. 

The analysis (as told to CSNwashington): 

Paul Hewitt, George Mason head coach (GMU faced Bucknell in each of the past two seasons): "Very skilled player who has some toughness to him. I thought he improved from his junior to his senior year rebounding the ball. Can shoot the ball very well to about 17-18 feet. Can use both hands really well around the rim. I think he'll be a good pro...We were trying to front him and not allow him to get the ball on the low post because he was such a facilitator when he got the ball around the rim. On the perimeter, you had to crowd him because he could make the jump shot pretty consistently."

Jeff Jones, former American and new Old Dominion head coach (coached against Bucknell at least twice during each of Muscala's four seasons): "I don't think there is any question he can be an effective NBA player, a contributor. With him there may be a greater importance of being in the right spot, ideally with teams running a European style offense. ... Muscala is the kind of player the more you see the more you appreciate his skill set. He's certainly able to knock down the college range 3-point shot, but I don't see that being an issue for him to stretch that out over the next few years to the NBA line. He scores around the basket in a variety of ways. Great hands, wingspan. The question I think he'll have to answer is can he guard a mobile four-man on the next level or can he guard a heavier post player. He didn't have to do those things in college. ...Can't sleep on his competitiveness." 

Ed Isaacson, NBA Scout, NBADraftBlog.com, NBCSports: "Looking at the draft as a whole, one of my favorite value guys. I think he should be a late first-round guy, so if you can get him in the second round that would be great value. He already has that mid-range game down and is not that far off from being what a stretch-four is in the NBA these days. With him, it's more about all the little things. Doesn't need to have the ball [to be a factor]. Can play tough defense, great screener on the perimeter, he rebounds."

The summation: Last season when Randy Wittman went to his frontcourt bench for scoring, the Wizards coach rarely found any among his bigs and if he did it was not in a free-flowing offense kind of way. Muscala has the offensive and fundamental makeup to change that. With less than 10 days before the draft, the Bucknell big man finds himself in that low-first/high second round range. Will the Wizards find him at 38, well, that could be a stretch. If in fact he drops that far, he could be a sensible call as the team's new reserve stretch-four. 

NBA Draft profiles:

Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky

Tony Snell, SF, New Mexico

Otto Porter Jr., SF, Georgetown

Lorenzo Brown, PG, NC State

Alex Len, C, Maryland

Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV

Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA, SF/SG