It’s not easy being a fan of any Washington-based franchise right now. Whether it is the Wizards, the Capitals or the Redskins, they just can’t find that ultimate success
For Wizards fans, this season was particularly tough, as it came on the back of two consecutive seasons with playoff basketball.
The D.C. franchise finished fifth in both 2013-14 and 2014-15 and won their first rounds in both years, including collecting their first-ever sweep against Toronto last year.
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This year, the Wizards missed the playoff berths with a 10th place finish, going 41-41 for the season. It was a disappointing step in the wrong direction, but with John Wall and Bradley Beal as a young dynamic backcourt, the future should still be bright.
They have a new coach, with Scott Brooks replacing Randy Wittman, and there are a lot of interesting storylines for the coming summer and beyond. It is an exciting time to be a Wizards fan, but how will they be lining up next year?
Draft Day: Trades
Sorry, Wizards fans, but you’re not likely to see much from your team in terms of trades on draft day. This year's event promises to be an exciting one with lots of trades floating around, but Washington is unlikely to be involved.
The only trade we might see from the Wizards is for a low draft pick. They could move cash, future picks or minor assets for a second-round pick, but you won’t see anything more exciting than that.
The Wizards have been having workouts with draft prospects so they must be considering it.
Draft Day: Picks
Washington does not have a single pick for the upcoming draft and so it could be a pretty boring day for them. If they do trade for a pick, however, there are a few names to look at.
These are all big men and are realistically acquirable. Carter is a weak rebounder for his position but he, according to Draft Express, is “blessed with outstanding overall scoring instincts” and is a good passer for his position. Add in his big wingspan and Carter could be an intriguing prospect.
Wiltjer has more flaws to his game. At 6’10”, he has good size for a power forward, but his athleticism and defence are lacking in a big way. Still, he is a lights-out shooter with a great percentage from three-point range this last year and that is attractive.
Auguste is a centre in a power-forward’s body, but in today’s small-ball NBA that could work. His skillset is raw but he is a great athlete for his size and that could help him make it in the NBA.
Given their needs, it seems likely that the Wizards would chase a big man in the draft but it is not a certainty. If they wanted a guard, they could look at Joe McDonald, Sterling Gibbs or D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, but with Wall and Beal, that seems unlikely.
These are all players that have worked out for the Wizards so there is, at least, some interest. They are all acquirable even without trading for a draft pick, though, as none of them are guaranteed to be picked in the two rounds.
Retain or Release
There are quite of few of these, so let’s start with the big one, Bradley Beal. The two guard is still waiting to break out and, despite arguably taking a step back this year, Beal wants a max contract.
There are some doubts as to whether he will ever take this next step forward, but he’s a good shooter and there is still a lot of potential there. These doubts might lead to speculation that the Wizards could trade Beal to start again but, while that may have its merits, they would be foolish to let him walk. Beal will stay.
Jared Dudley and Marcus Thornton are unrestricted free agents and both are good to have in rotation. Dudley is a sweet-shooting wing veteran who will have plenty of suitors. The Wizards will try to retain him but it just might not happen. Thornton is a crafty shooting guard and a good scorer for the second unit, so he is worth re-signing if the price is right.
Mid-range shooter Ramon Sessions and wing defender Garrett Temple are both valuable parts of the Wizards bench depth and both are worth re-signing to cheap deals for the rotation also.
There are players the Wizards should let walk, though. Alan Anderson is a spare wheel on the team and Hickson can be improved upon.
After many years, though, it might also be time to part ways with Brazilian big man, Nene. He’s an efficient post scorer but his rebounding is poor and his contributions are dropping. He could return if his salary demands are low enough but it seems more likely that he will go elsewhere for one last payday or one last chance at a ring on a veteran’s minimum.
Let’s get this bit over with: Kevin Durant. KD is the dream and the Wizards fans must desperately hope that the lure of coming home will be enough to bring Durant to D.C. Washington brought in Scott Brooks, a coach Durant knows well, and could chase other lures, like friend D.J. Augustin, to throw their all at the unrestricted superstar.
However, most agree that the Wizards are not a realistic destination for Durant, a sentiment Dudley echoes.
While Wall and Durant teaming up would be cool to watch, it just doesn’t make sense. KD can get more money and better chances for success at the Thunder and the lure of coming home just isn’t significant. KD will remain a dream.
Elsewhere, Dwight Howard might be an improvement on Gortat, but it would be surprising to see him come to D.C. because that then makes trading the latter a necessity. His rebounding and defence are better than Gortat’s but it just doesn’t make sense, especially when there will be franchises, like Dallas, pushing harder for him.
Who is worth chasing then? Probably not a small forward. Otto Porter, a former third overall pick, is now a starter on this team and he has plenty of room to grow.
Of course, they could look to recruit Nicolas Batum or Chandler Parsons if they want to take that step forward soon but both of those seem more likely to return to their current teams than to move elsewhere, especially to a team, like the Wizards, who don’t really need them.
If they did want to splash the cash, though, the Wizards could look at Jared Sullinger. He is an RFA so acquiring him would either require a bigger contract or a trade-and-sign but he could be a nice fit.
Sullinger can space the floor well on offence, pass well for his position and is a solid rebounder to complement Gortat, all while also being capable of being a small-ball centre. There are concerns about his fitness but he might be worth a gamble and, if the Celtics are chasing a Jimmy Butler or a Demarcus Cousins, they might see Sullinger as expendable.
For a similar need, Ryan Anderson, Marvin Williams and Mirza Teletovic would also be worth recruiting, while Ezeli or Biyombo would help improve the centre rotation.
Courtney Lee could be a more balanced and upgraded version of Marcus Thornton. Allen Crabbe is definitely worth a look at to help the Wizards address their lack of scoring depth, while Jeff Green, with his stock possibly at an all-time low, could be a good piece at a good price.
How will the Wizards look?
Likely: Wall, Beal, Porter, Morris, Gortat.
Possible: Wall, Beal, Porter, Sullinger, Gortat.
Unlikely: Wall, Beal, Parsons, Morris, Howard.
Not going to happen: Wall, Beal, Durant, Morris, Gortat.
Depth: Teletovic/Williams, Ezeli/Hickson, Sessions/Augustin, Thornton/Courtney Lee, Green, Oubre, Temple, Eddie, Carter/Wiltjer/Auguste.
The Wizards’ list of contracted players is pretty small but they have a nice amount of cap space to fill it up with.
That is why we will see them acquire multiple free agents for the bench, while the starters are left to grow. That being said, if either Parsons or Howard come to D.C., it wouldn’t be a surprise if they brought the other with them.
Their starters might not change but the Wizards will have great depth on their bench and that is big in today’s NBA.
Players like Thornton and Green should be signed to one-year deals and that should be the aim for Teletovic/Williams too. With this bench depth and the elite Wall, one of the best and most explosive floor generals in the league, the franchise is going in the right direction and has plenty of cap space still available.
Wizards fans will be disappointed that KD won’t be coming home but, with Wall as a superstar and Beal and Porter waiting to take strides forward, Washington should return to playoff contention next year.