The Washington Wizards have not gotten out to an ideal start in 2021 despite having the duo of Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal. After an 0-5 start, the Wizards have won their last two and sit at 2-5, good enough for 13th in the Eastern Conference.
The expectations for the new-look Wizards were to be much more competitive this year after acquiring former MVP, Russell Westbrook. The Wizards were projected by many to at least be a competitive team in the East, and make the playoffs.
That hasn’t been the case thus far. Despite the triple-double production from Russ, the Wizards aren’t meshing at all early in the season. This could be because of a lack of time spent together which would improve over time, or it could mean that the Wizards have reason to panic already.
Here are 3 potential trades that the Wizards could make in order to regain their competitive edge in the Eastern Conference.
Wizards trade with Kings
Wizards trade away: Mo Wagner, Ish Smith, 2021 2nd round pick, 2023 2nd round pick
Wizards receive: Marvin Bagley Jr
The Wizards have limited their rotation this year and haven’t really had an opportunity to get Ish Smith or Mo Wagner into the game. Both of these guys have a great deal to offer on the court and could be valuable additions to a team that has room for them to flourish.
Smith is an unselfish guard who can facilitate an offense on the second unit, while Wagner could help the Kings second unit rebound and play in the high pick and roll.
That still shouldn’t be enough to fetch Marvin Bagley, but with how recent events have transpired, it very well could be.
Bagley’s father expressed his frustration on Twitter after coach Luke Walton failed to give Bagley the minutes that his father thought he deserved.
Marvin Bagley's dad has requested a trade out of Sacramento for his son. Yikes city. https://t.co/S8jVnHuqKt
— Tony Xypteras (@TonyXypteras) January 3, 2021
Yikes city is right. The Marvin Bagley era seems to be over in Sacramento, but that does not mean that he can’t contribute elsewhere. He would give the Wizards a mobile big who can run in transition and space the floor as a stretch 5. A seemingly perfect fit for Russell Westbrook who needs the lane to be open when driving the net.
Bagley was the 2nd overall pick just a couple of years ago and has not lived up to his potential thus far in Sacramento. Despite putting up solid numbers, they are not even nearly what you’d expect from such a highly regarded prospect.
Bagley has a career average of 14.4 points and 7.6 rebounds per game shooting 48 percent from the field. The lack of production from the Duke star has been mostly because of his role with the team. The Kings view Bagley as a tertiary scoring option at best and often fails to get involved in the offense.
Struggles shooting the ball this season have also been apparent, shooting under 36 percent in seven games this season.
Although the production isn’t there, Bagley has tons of potential to be a solid contributor. He could potentially be giving you 15 & 8 on any given night. Marvin Bagley’s stock is the lowest it’s ever been right now, the Wizards should take advantage and make a move.
This deal could be exactly what the Wizards need to turn things around.
2. Wizards trade with Knicks
Wizards trade away: Russell Westbrook, 2021 1st round pick (top 3 protected)
Wizards receive: Julius Randle, Frank Ntilikina, Reggie Bullock
Maybe the problem is Russell Westbrook. It’s not like this is the first time we’ve seen the triple-double mirage before.
Westbrook’s style of play does not always constitute winning. Sure, he will stuff the stat sheet, but the wins won’t match. Westbrook has the Wizards playing erratically and is taking reps away from Beal and other emerging stars like Rui Hachimura and Deni Avdija.
The only suitor for Westbrook in the NBA is probably the New York Knicks. The Knicks expressed interest in Westbrook in the offseason, and could use a superstar presence at MSG.
The Wizards, in return, receive a very productive power forward in Julius Randle, and two solid role players that should get significant time off the bench. Randle’s stock is soaring right now with his hot start to the season, and if the Knicks have a change of heart with regards to their interest in Westbrook, this could be their chance to revisit the plan to chase after the former MVP.
Even if Randle didn’t pan out well for the Wizards, at least they have gotten rid of Westbrook’s seemingly onerous contract.
This trade not only makes the Wizards more balanced but also improves the team’s cohesion. Westbrook plays as a ball-dominant guard, and often makes it hard for others to get involved in the offense.
With Russ gone and Randle in, the ball will be dispersed more evenly, making this Wizards offense less two-dimensional (Beal and Westbrook).
Randle has been playing at an all-star level, so the Wizards will likely have to throw in some draft capital to make this worthwhile for the Knicks.
3. Wizards trade with Pistons
Wizards trade away: Ish Smith, Isaac Bonga, 2021 2nd round pick
Wizards Receive: Derrick Rose
The Wizards bench depth has been an issue so far this year, so acquiring some key pieces on the bench could really benefit the Wizards this season.
The Pistons are in rebuild mode, so veteran bench players aren’t vital to their long term plan. Acquiring draft capital, no matter how little, would be a positive trade for the Pistons. Not to mention, Ish Smith had some of his best seasons in Detroit, averaging 10 points and 4.5 assists per game in three seasons there.
I can’t see the Pistons saying no to this deal.
The Wizards receive Derrick Rose in return, who would add some serious firepower to their lacking second unit.
Currently, Rose is the third-highest scoring bench player in the NBA, averaging 15.3 points per game, and the second-best playmaking bench player in the NBA averaging 5.4 assists per game.
According to Hoopstats.com, the Wizards have the worst bench in the NBA. They rank last in point differential and struggle to guard anyone on the defensive end. Adding Derrick Rose to this team would help bolster the production from the bench, but also keep Wizards in games that their bench currently cannot.
D-Rose in DC could be the perfect move for the Wizards.
Although it wouldn’t be smart to panic this early in the season, the Wizards’ slow start is definitely a cause for concern. The Westbrook-Beal project is one that is reliant on chemistry and cooperation from both players. Their numbers haven’t been affected negatively, but the team hasn’t been winning.
Don’t expect a trade anytime soon, but if the losses keep stacking up, things could look very different in Washington in the near future.