The Washington Wizards maintained their mantle as one of the most perplexing teams in the league. The top-heavy nature of their roster remained a saving grace and a problem, with and without John Wall. Their starting unit was among the best in the league. Their bench was awful and cost them games.
The locker room was uneven. Scott Brooks had to publicly call out his team’s play style. And yet … Washington was a few bounces away from making serious playoff noise.
This is who the Wizards are. It isn’t enough. Washington’s entering another summer with the same questions. Who is the alpha? Is Scott Brooks the man for the job? Will they finally improve the bench? Heck, can they with their lack of flexibility?
Here to talk to me about the state of the Wizards is Kevin Parrish Jr. of SB Nation’s Wizards affiliate, BulletsForever. You can follow him on Twitter at @KevinParrishJr.
7. ND: How do you feel about the direction of the Wizards right now? Inconsistent play and the injury bug makes it hard to get a read on them, but their cap sheet is also atrocious.
KP: Neither injuries nor inconsistency is the problem, in my opinion. Their cap situation is a problem and it’s going to get worse. One likely problem: Wall’s production is likely to crater in a year or two. Another big problem is how overrated Wall is. He’s treated as an elite performer but he’s not.
He has poor shot selection. Poor shooting. Lots of turnovers. He could be elite, but not with how he plays.
For example, we all know Otto Porter is an elite shooter. With Wall on the floor, Porter averages 15.1 points per 36 minutes, while knocking down 44.4 percent of his threes. When he’s out there without Wall, Porter’s usage rises to above average (15.7 to 20.6), his scoring shoots up (15.1 to 18.0), and he knocks down 43.9 percent of his threes. That’s a testament to how good (and underrated) Porter is, but it’s a little odd there’s virtually no drop-off when Wall — a great passer — is off the floor.
6. That’s fair. Playoff Wall is a different animal than Regular Season Wall, but I can see how that inconsistency may irk you. How worried are you about Wall’s mega-extension, then?
I’m very worried. Those per year numbers are going to be astronomical and there’s no way his production will match that. There’s literally only 4-5 players in the whole league whose production is actually worth $40 million a year.
5. One question that started to arise this year: is Wall even the best player on his team? Bradley Beal took another leap as a creator and more than held his own while Wall was out with injury. Has Beal surpassed Wall as a player in your eyes?
No, definitely not. For all my gripes with Wall, Beal is still just a tier below superstar level. Hell, some people even consider him a superstar (though I clearly disagree). Beal is really good though and the Wizards shouldn’t be looking to trade him. Beal can continue to improve his ball handling and playmaking skills, while I don’t believe Wall will improve significantly as a shooter. There’s a path for him to pass Wall in the very near future.
4. Let’s shift gears a bit. Washington has about $35 million committed to centers next season and all of them have question marks. Wall has been clamoring for an upgrade at that spot. What would you like to see the Wizards do in that regard?
They’re probably screwed. But seriously, finding another team to take either Gortat or Mahinmi probably means attaching a future first round pick in the trade, too. Honestly, that’s not the worst idea if they can clear money for a big who helps them win now. There’s been speculation about the Wizards working out something for DeMarcus Cousins, but that remains highly unlikely.
3. The Cousins-Wall combo would be fun, but I agree that probably isn’t happening. How would you feel about, say, Dwight Howard? He was sneaky good last year and may be attainable if Charlotte blows it up.
I’m not all that interested in him or Cousins, to be honest. Howard was decent last year, but unexceptional. Boogie is overrated in my opinion and he’s coming back from an Achilles tear. That injury is rough for bigs. The history of big men and Achilles injuries isn’t good.
2. Fair enough. Draft time! The Wizards have two picks (15, 44) this year. Who are some guys you’d like to see them target?
Fifteen seems to be right around where it drops off talent-wise, so maybe they look to trade back for future picks. Drafting a guy who’s gonna make $2.7M next year will add to their luxury tax bill, which owner Ted Leonsis may not want to pay unless the team is competitive. If they do keep the pick, I’d like to see them take a backup point guard.
Maybe they take a guy who can step in immediately so they don’t have to spend on a free-agent PG. Alabama’s Collin Sexton would work if he slides. Kentucky’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander could be an interesting option. USC’s De’Anthony Melton is a nice defensive option at that spot.
1. Washington is pretty much capped out, so they’ll need to hit on value deals. Who are some low-dollar guys you think could make an impact for the Wizards?
Backup point guard is their biggest need. If they don’t draft a point guard, I would use most, if not all, of their $5.3M mini mid-level on one. That’s assuming they’re willing to pay the tax, ’cause otherwise they have some trading to do to get off some salary before signing new guys. Some options include Seth Curry, Devin Harris, or maybe Rajon Rondo if New Orleans doesn’t bring him bac. Ray Felton, Jameer Nelson, and Shabazz Napier could also be relatively cheap options.