October 8, 2015

Washington Wizards 2015 Media Day Need to Know: Using Small Ball to get to Eastern Conference Finals

Below you will find everything you need to know from all of the Washington Wizards players, organized by position. The major theme from all parties, which was presumed by the free agent acquisitions, was that the goal is to get past the second round of the playoffs and the team will follow the trend set out by the Golden State Warriors of going small to spread the floor.

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Washington Wizards Resign Veteran Drew Gooden as Roster becomes Complete


Drew Gooden, 33, has been a big part of the Wizards playoff run the past two seasons. As a result, not only did Washington resign the Kansas graduate to a veterans minimum ($1.5 million), but they signed him to a one year deal worth $3.3 million.

With the trade acquisition of Jared Dudley, which became official today once the moratorium was lifted, the Wizards have a stretch four. However, Dudley is not the greatest of rebounders, averaging just over 5 boards in a 36 minute period in his career. With the Wizards only having two big men that Randy Wittman trusts to play during the playoffs: Marcin Gortat and Nene, it made sense for Washington to add another big man.

Gooden has a natural drive and energy he brings to the team. At 6′ 10”, the veteran stretch four always seemed to be soaring into the Verizon Center rafters to corral loose balls against the Toronto Raptors in the playoffs. Gooden might only be credited with 3.1 win shares for the Wizards over the past two regular seasons, but his 46.2 percent (12/26) shooting from beyond the arc last postseason to go along with his 5.5 rebounds per game in limited playing time was key. His performance in high leverage situations as well as his likability in the locker room made this a no-brainer. Gooden is clearly happy to be back.

Other teammates likes Wizards leader John Wall also is joyful about the move.

The Wizards now have the maximum of 15 players currently under contract meaning there is little likelihood, at the moment, of signing an additional player off of the summer league team besides first round pick Kelly Oubre. Unless the Wizards are able to offload the contracts of Martell Webster, DeJuan Blair, and even last year’s starting power forward Nene, who currently do not fit into the way the Wizards are shaping their team, rookies like Dez Wells might have to look for work elsewhere.

UPDATED Projected Depth Chart:

PG: John Wall, Ramon Sessions
SG: Bradley Beal, Gary Neal, Garrett Temple
SF: Otto Porter, Alan Anderson, Kelly Oubre, Martell Webster
PF: Jared Dudley, Drew Gooden, Kris Humphries, DeJuan Blair
C: Marcin Gortat, Nene

The Wizards are now fully committed to the small ball mentality that the NBA’s best teams are transitioning to with their free agency acquisitions of Jared Dudley, Gary NealAlan Anderson, and now Drew Gooden.

For the latest on the rest of the Washington Wizards offseason building up to the start of the regular season, come back and visit District Sports Page regularly.

Washington Wizards sign Alan Anderson to use Mid-Level Exception as Free Agency Winds Down


The Washington Wizards have lost Paul Pierce, acquired Jared Dudley, signed Gary Neal, and now added Alan Anderson as another piece of the puzzle heading into the 2015-2016 season. With these three acquisitions Washington has used up their larger trade, bi-annual, and most of the mid-level exceptions hinting towards the possible end of major transactions during the free agency festivities. Anderson declined a player option with the Brooklyn Nets that would have paid out a mere $1.3 million.

After losing out on veteran PF David West talents to the Spurs, Ernie Grunfeld wasted little time to use up the MLE on what many considered the best wing option still available in Anderson. Anderson will only receive part of the Wizards mid-level exception ($5.5 million) meaning that the team could use the remaining $1.5 million to sign another player. Such an amount might not be much to some, but it would be similar to the veterans minimum that David West settled for. The remaining portion can be used to sign another player. The signing will not be official until the NBA moratorium is lifted on July 9, similar to Jared Dudley’s situation.

Alan Anderson, 32, is a 6′ 6” wing defender out of Michigan State and has plenty of experience both in the NBA and overseas. Anderson is another shooter for the Wizards as he is 34.6 percent from beyond the arc for his career including 252 made threes over the past three years. Anderson was also big in the playoffs last year for the Nets as a bench player by averaging 11 points in 24 minutes a game. Like The Truth, Anderson heated up in the postseason with a ridiculous 10 of 16 (62.5 percent) shooting from three. Possibly even more importantly for Anderson was his versatility and ability to effectively defend against the rest of the league’s premier wing players like LeBron James, similarly to Jared Dudley.

With the additions of Anderson, Neal, and Dudley, the Wizards have deepened their team at the 2, 3, and 4 positions. Anderson will be the most comfortable at the SF position and by backing up rising star Otto Porter , the Wizards can ease Kelly Oubre’s development with limited playing time. The move also allows Dudley to play primarily at the PF position, though possibly in a non-starter role. Washington has obtained versatility, wing depth, and shooting without forfeiting any future cap space for next year’s run at Kevin Durant.

UPDATED Projected Depth Chart:

PG: John Wall, Ramon Sessions
SG: Bradley Beal, Gary Neal, Garrett Temple
SF: Otto Porter, Alan Anderson, Kelly Oubre, Martell Webster
PF: Jared Dudley, Kris Humphries, DeJuan Blair
C: Marcin Gortat, Nene

Washington currently has 14 players under contract and have limited big bodies to rebound the ball at the moment. Although the Wizards have previously opted to leave a roster spot open for a strong Summer League performer such as Rasual Butler last year or Dez Wells this year,  there is a strong possibility that the Wizards will take the $1.5 million left of their mid-level exception and re-sign Drew Gooden. Gooden has preformed well for the Wizards the past two years, especially in the playoffs, and excels in rebounding because of his energy.

Unprobable at the moment, the Wizards may try to move the likes of Martell Webster of DeJuan Blair because of their near certainty of no playing time, as projected by the late stages of last season. Such would bode well for former Terp Dez Wells or another young standout in the upcoming Summer League. To make sure you are aware of the latest Wizards developments, check back on District Sports Page frequently.

Washington Wizards: Gary Neal returns to DMV Area on One Year Deal


Two days removed from losing The Truth to the Clippers and one day removed from acquiring stretch-four option Jared Dudley, the Wizards have continued wheeling and dealing by signing local product Gary Neal to a one-year deal for $2.1 million, using their bi-annual exception (BAE), that they did not use last summer. After receiving heat for letting Pierce go, GM Ernie Grunfeld seems to be back in many fans good graces with the additions of Oubre, Dudley, and now Neal.

Neal has just five years in the NBA after starting his pro career overseas, but at the age of 30 his legs are already starting to wear down. However, the Wizards most likely brought the former Towson Tiger back to the local area because of his three-point shooting ability. Neal wanted a chance to contend for a championship as well as play closer to his home as a Baltimore native. The Wizards provided the best of both worlds.

Neal is coming off of a horrendous season where he shot just 29.3 percent (39 of 133) from beyond the arc for the Charlotte Hornets, but that could partially be chalked up to the sputtering nature of that franchise. This should be looked at as an outlier in his career, where he is an above average 38.1 percent shooter from deep. Neal fills the three-point shooting hole for the Wizards, as behind Bradley Beal (after the departure of Pierce), John Wall made the second most three pointers (20) for the team after the all-star break.

Neal spent three seasons with the San Antonio Spurs, but he wasn’t re-signed in favor of their current three-point specialist, Danny Green. Neal bounced around the league a little bit after that.  He signed a one-year deal with the Milwaukee Bucks before being traded to the then-Charlotte Bobcats (along with oft-traded Luke Ridnour). Neal was then most recently traded to the Timberwolves, where he finished out the late stages of 2015 before becoming a free agent this summer.

The key to this signing taking place was the short term nature that had no impact on next year’s salary cap, because of the BAE, so the Wizards can save up for you know who.

This puts the Wizards at 13 players under contract, but they still have to use their mid-level exception, worth $5.5 million, and possibly re-sign Drew Gooden. With talks of signing David West — who does not fit the requirements of a stretch four if you were wondering — the Wiz utilizing the MLE will only be likely if Nene is traded, though the Wiz are not drawing many offers. Assuming Gooden is re-signed, things would not look the best for former Terp Dez Wells joining the roster, unless Martell Webster and/or DeJuan Blair (who are at this point just taking up a seat with no use) are moved.

UPDATED Projected Depth Chart:

PG: John Wall, Ramon Sessions
SG: Bradley Beal, Gary Neal, Garrett Temple
SF: Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Martell Webster
PF: Jared Dudley, Kris Humphries, DeJuan Blair
C: Marcin Gortat, Nene

For the latest on everything Wizards from free agency moves to the latest on the young prospects on the Wizards summer league team, return to District Sports Page frequently.

Washington Wizards: Jared Dudley to DC for Second Round Pick


The Washington Wizards still have not made a move in free agency although they have been reportedly linked to several players. On the second day of free agency, a day after losing their playoff stretch four in Paul Pierce, GM Ernie Grunfeld traded a protected second round pick to the Milwaukee Bucks for veteran Jared Dudley. The trade will not be official until a week from today, July 9. The Wizards have already parted ways with their 2016 and 2019 second round picks in a draft day trade to acquire Kelly Oubre Jr. Grunfeld clearly did not want to be outdone by his Capitals counterpart who made an impressive move to acquire RW T.J. Oshie.

Jared Dudley, 29, was due $4.25 million this year after opting into the final year of his contract the day before free agency began on June 30. The Wizards will absorb Dudley’s contract into an existing trade exception in order to not exceed the salary cap. This trade player exception (TPE) came from the trade that sent Andre Miller to Sacramento, who was owed a $4.7 million salary. For those who do not know, TPEs allow franchises to acquire a player by only giving up a future pick, which in this case may or may not come to fruition.

Dudley spoke to Alex Kennedy and said, “To me, I understand it’s a business and I understand what the Bucks are doing, but I’m excited. The Wizards are a great team, who have two young stars in John Wall and Bradley Beal. And I played with Marcin Gortat before [in Phoenix]. It would be great to play for them and I’d just try to come in and contribute at the three and do whatever it takes to help them win.”

Dudley is a career 39.6 percent shooter from beyond the arc and was 74 of 192 (38.5 percent) last year in his only season in Milwaukee, who signed former Hoya Greg Monroe today. Although the Boston College product stands at only 6′ 7”, he was the power forward for the Bucks when their coach Jason Kidd elected to go small. Dudley’s ability to literally stretch the defense with his jump shooting ability complements his ability to effectively guard multiple positions. As Washington Post’s Jorge Castillo pointed out, Dudley can be the primary defender against LeBron James whether it be during the regular season or high pressure playoff situations.

Dudley’s versatility, can play the 2, 3, AND 4 positions, was liked by the Wizards front office. Currently, Dez Wells could be the backup SG, Kelly Oubre could be too raw to see consistent minutes at SF, and Kris Humphries is the only Wizard big who has a consistent jump shot at the moment. To see what this does to the CURRENT projected depth chart, see below:

PG: John Wall, Ramon Sessions
SG: Bradley Beal, Garrett Temple
SF: Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Martell Webster
PF: Jared Dudley, Kris Humphries, DeJuan Blair
C: Marcin Gortat, Nene

The Wizards still have a mid-level exception (around $5.5 million) and bi-annual exception (around $2.1 million) to use. After the Wizards resign Drew Gooden, which is reported to be quite likely by CSN’s J. Michael, the Wizards would be at their 15-man roster limit. However, with the Wizards continuing to be high on Dez Wells, assuming second round pick Aaron White does indeed go overseas, Washington could opt to not use the bi-annual exception. In essence, the Wizards are going to try and lure the best possible talent available for $5.5 million; to see a list of who that individual might be check out the Wizards free agent tracker. My best guess would be Gooden, Wells, and C.J. Watson, through mid-level exception, will fill out the roster for the Wizards come the 2015-2016 season opener.

For the latest on everything Wizards from free agency moves to the latest on the young prospects on the Wizards summer league team, return to District Sports Page frequently. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments section below.

Washington Wizards: The Truth Leaves DC for LA


After forgoing a player option that would have allowed Pierce to make $5.5 million in DC, The Truth decided against staying with the Wizards and return to his hometown of Los Angeles.

Pierce is reported to have signed a three year deal for $10.6 million with the Clippers. The last year, a season where Pierce would be 40, will be a team option. Pierce could have made $6.6 million during the upcoming season if he decided to stay in Washington. It is likely that Pierce was sold as soon as the Clippers offered a second guaranteed year, whereas the Wizards would have offered a second year as a team option.

When the Washington Wizards brought in Paul Pierce to replace Trevor Ariza last year, many thought it would be a step back because of the to be Hall of Famer’s age. It turned out to be the exact opposite. Although the argument can be made the Pierce was a liability on defense, his leadership presence to the young core of John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter was priceless. The Truth’s ability to take the last shot and win playoff games did not hurt either.

After the Wizards five minute extension to a season was waived off when Pierce’s overtime forcing three was waved off in Game 6 against the Hawks, The Truth was soft spoken post game. Many immediately thought the former Finals MVP was ready to hang it all up after Pierce discussed the need to see how is aging body healed from the season.

After it became clear that Pierce would give it another go in chase of another championship, many linked the future Hall of Famer to a reunion with his former Celtic’s coach Doc Rivers as a Clipper in his hometown of Los Angeles. Even after the Clippers acquired Lance Stephenson, a small forward, Rivers said on a radio interview that he would like the former Pacer to come off the bench and not start. It has now become clear that Rivers clearly wanted to pursue Pierce to replace Matt Barnes in the Clippers starting lineup.

When Pierce opted out of his contract, many thought it might be a money play to receive an extra $1.1 million that he did deserve. Throughout the wait, both Wizards head coach Randy Wittman and GM Ernie Grunfeld were optimistic that the veteran wing would return. Wittman said he expected Pierce back next year moments after his team’s season ended in a post game presser and also on draft night after selecting Kelly Oubre. It is clear that the former Kansas star, Pierce not Oubre who also went to Kansas, was Washington’s #1 priority as they scheduled a conversation over the phone at 12:01 AM on July 1, the official start of free agency.

Below you can find an UPDATED depth chart including ONLY those who are currently under contract:

PG: John Wall, Ramon Sessions
SG: Bradley Beal, Garrett Temple
SF: Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Martell Webster
PF: Kris Humphries, DeJuan Blair
C: Marcin Gortat, Nene

With four roster spots currently open, the Wizards have four players in the organization who could fill them: Aaron White, Dez Wells, Rasual Butler, and Drew Gooden. White is expected to go oversees, Wells is expected to make the team, Butler may be expendable, and Gooden is the only true stretch four capable player in the franchise. If Butler is not re-signed and/or either Webster or Blair are moved, the Wizards can still look to add talent through free agency.

While waiting for an official decision from Pierce, the Wizards were not completely absent in the free agency festivities. Washington was linked to be in contact with several individuals who could provide depth to the organization. Any and all individuals who were even rumored to be associated with the Wizards can be found below. I would not expect any major flashy deals to be signed as the Wizards have hinted at every opportunity that they will pursue Durant with every penny they have next year. Wizards have essentially no cap room but can use midlevel, biannual, trade exceptions.

  • Former King and second overall pick behind Kyrie Irving, Derrick Williams an undersized power forward that was possibly asked to do too much.
  • Former Timberwolves first round pick, last year with the Lakers, SG Wayne Ellington who has a stroke from beyond the arc.
  • Bulls three point threat in veteran Mike Dunleavy. The former Duke product would go on to resign with Chicago at 3 years for $15 million although he was rumored to have had other offers.
  • Longtime Piston Rodney Stuckey was an interest of the Wizards because of his consistent double digit points per game production.
  • Former Net Alan Anderson also was an interest of the Wizards for wing depth and potentially as a replacement for Pierce.

When the Wizards signed Pierce to a two year $10.8 million deal last summer, they were mostly worried about saving up enough cap space to make a hard push in returning Kevin Durant to the DMV. Coming into this summer, the Wizards hoped that Pierce would be back with the core in place. The Wizards looked to be primed to make a push at the Eastern Conference Finals if Pierce returned, but instead if will be the combination of Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre to take over the small forward position.

For the latest on the Wizards activity during free agency as well as the latest on the young prospects on their summer league team, return to District Sports Page frequently.

Washington Wizards 2015 NBA Draft Results, Grades, and Meaning

The Washington Wizards were probably busier than some might have expected at the Barclary’s center; nonetheless however, measures were taken to improve this team now and in the future. For a full recap and evaluation of the Wizards activities see my in-depth post from last night.

Washington acquired Kelly Oubre Jr., an athletic wing player out of Kansas from the Atlanta Hawks, drafted with the 15th overall pick, by trading away their 19th overall pick that was used to ship Jerian Grant to New York and two second round picks in 2016 and 2019 going to Atlanta.

In the second round the Wizards stay put and drafted stretch four Aaron White out of Iowa, one pick after missing out on Kentucky big man Dakari Johnson. After the draft, the Wizards are reported to have former Terp Dez Wells and former first round pick Roddy Beaubois on the team’s summer league team.

It is a certainty that Oubre will make the team and will see solid minutes coming off the bench. According to J. Michael, Aaron White will begin his pro career overseas even though GM Ernie Grunfeld said it would be up to White; quite possible that the Iowa big has already made his decision to travel. Dez Wells will likely have a spot on the 15 man roster because he can be a go to scorer off the bench when needed to provide a spark. Clearly many in the Wizards organization agree as J. Michael is reporting that the former Terp is expected to reunite with childhood friend John Wall. Beaubois is already 27 years old and will be starting his 10th year of his pro career; the French native is a long shot to make the team although he would probably play a role to last year’s pick up of Will Bynum.

With this news, a more accurate idea of the Wizards 15-man roster is possible:

PG: John Wall, Ramon Sessions, Will Bynum/Roddy Beaubois
SG: Bradley Beal, Garrett Temple, Rasual ButlerDez Wells
SF: Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Martell Webster, Paul Pierce
PF: Kris Humphries, DeJuan Blair, Aaron WhiteDrew Gooden
C: Marcin Gortat, Nene

The above depth chart is assuming that Paul Pierce does  not re-sign with the Wizards when free agency begins July 1. Pierce has officially opted out of his contract, which was reported earlier by others. However, it is still possible The Truth will be back and provide the clutch shooting and mentoring he showed off last year. When asked about the return of Pierce, Wittman optimistically said “yeah, absolutely” I expect him back.

Drew Gooden has resurrected his career in Washington the past two years and the Wizards should and likely will work to bring the veteran back. His spot is secure as long as the Wizards figure out a deal that might include a second year player option that suits him. Rasual Butler is a free agent but could be back if the Wizards want him. They currently do not have the roster spot for him if Aaron White does stay in DC and they could opt to bring in another younger sharp shooter instead (i.e. Michael Frazier or Aaron Harrison). Will Bynum will be the odd man out if Paul Pierce returns or even if he doesn’t and the front office likes what they see out of Beaubois more (quite possible if the former Maverick can over come his injury plagued past).

I would expect the Wizards to try and move either Martell Webster and/or DeJuan Blair in coming weeks because of their lack of production and opportunity last year. It is unlikely Washington targets any flashy free agents starting next week as they will continue to save cap space in hope of a run to bring Kevin Durant home.

Although none of these evaluations will mean anything until the end of these players careers, possibly over a decade from now, Oubre and company can still be evaluated on their projected contribution to the team.

  • Kelly Oubre: B with the potential of A. Since the Wizards did have to part with two second round draft picks in 2016 and 2019 when they could have stayed pat at #19 and selected Bobby Portis or Jerian Grant, Oubre is already in the hole. However, there is a reason why the one-and-done Kansas sensation was projected to be a lottery pick: he is ridiculously athletic. His 7′ 2” wingspan will allow him to be a strong defender and he if he continues to develop his multi-faceted offensive game, he will well be worth the investment. It is more likely he will be signing a max deal in four years than him looking overseas to continue his pro career. Oubre is also close friends with Kevin Durant, it might not help come next summer, but it will certainly not hurt either.
  • Aaron White: B+. The Wizards were one pick away from having the opportunity to select Dakari Johnson, an elite defender with a 9′ 4” reach. After that opportunity was taken away by the Thunder with the 48th pick, Washington opted to draft a big who can continue to help them with their high priority of rebounding. White, like Oubre, can grab nine or more rebounds in forty minutes of action. With White’s growing ability to knock down the three point shot, he could be a younger version of Drew Gooden the Wizards are looking for in a stretch four.
  • Dez Wells: A. It costs the Wizards nothing to put a stud with a prolific college career at a local school in Maryland on the summer league team. Clearly the Wizards have no obligation to give Wells a roster spot, but he has clearly made an impression on the front office with his unique slashing skill set. If he has a strong performance in Vegas, Otto won’t be the only local college star Verizon Center will be chanting.
  • Roddy Beaubois: A. Similarly to Wells, it costs the Wizards nothing to take a second look at the French professional. Once believed to be a budding star who dropped 40 points on the Golden State Warriors in 2009 as a rookie, injuries might have completely derailed the career of Beaubois. Once the dust settles with Paul Pierce and the Wizards make up their minds about Will Bynum and other bench free agents will be when the future of Beaubois in DC will be decided.

For continued coverage of the Wizards in the offseason leading up to the start of the 2015-2016 season, visit DistrictSportsPage frequently.


Washington Wizards 2015 NBA Draft Preview with Predictions

The Washington Wizards hold the 19th and 49th overall pick in next Thursday’s NBA draft, positions determined by their 46-36 regular season record. The Wizards have had some success in drafting recently with selections of John Wall, Bradley Beal, and most recently Otto Porter, but are also known for missing out on the NBA Champion Splash Brothers Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. After trading away last year’s first round draft pick to Phoenix for Marcin Gortat, the Wizards will once again have a first round selection in a fairly talented class.

Although there is nothing that the Wizards desperately need, there is no position where they should feel overly confident in either, whether it is in a starting or backup role. Earlier I discussed some of the potential Wizards that may be leaving the club, which could influence how the team will stand going into next year. It is likely that Kevin Seraphin is gone this summer, but that could be the extent of departures as the Wizards would probably not have to spend too much to retain some of the other role players. Assuming current free agents (italicized) and those with player options (underlined) return, a potential depth chart without free agents or draft picks could look like:

PG: John Wall, Ramon Sessions, Will Bynum
SG: Bradley Beal, Rasual Butler, Garrett Temple*
SF: Otto Porter, Paul Pierce, Martell Webster
PF: Drew Gooden, Kris Humphries, DeJuan Blair
C: Marcin Gortat, Nene

*As reported by CSN Washington’s J. Michael, Garrett Temple has opted into his player option, deciding against free agency, for the 2015-2016 season with the Wizards, as expected.

If the Wizards draft any guard that they think deserves a shot on the team, Bynum is likely to lose his roster spot. However, if Paul Pierce does end up retiring or going to the Clippers — less likely with Los Angeles’s recent  acquisition of Lance Stephenson — Bynum’s spot may be secure unless an undrafted free agent is brought in. Gooden’s spot is likely secure because of the need for an immediate known as a stretch-4. Temple will likely return due to mutual desire from both his side and Wizards management. Butler could be let go if room was necessary after having a dismal second half of the season.

Potential First Round Targets (UPDATED):

  • G Jerian Grant (6-5/202): As a local product from DeMatha High School, Grant would be the ideal fit for the Wizards as a combo guard. Grant has the scoring capabilities, 16.5 points a game, to play alongside John Wall or Ramon Sessions as well as the passing skills, 6.7 assists a game, to run with Bradley Beal. It might be a question of if the Notre Dame product is still available when the Wizards are on the clock.
  • G Tyus Jones (6-1/190): At times overshadowed at Duke by likely lottery picks Jahlil Okafor and Justice Winslow, Jones has the potential to be a great backup point guard. With great vision allowing him over five assists a game; however, it is unlikely Jones would be able to play with Wall at the same time because of his size.
  • G Rashad Vaughn (6-6/210): As a freshman, Vaughn took the Mountain West Conference by storm by averaging close to 18 points and 5 rebounds. His volume shooting in a non-major conference could be a scare and possible reach for the Wizards.
  • G Justin Anderson (6-6/231): The former Montrose Christian star suffered an injury towards the end of last season, which turned out to be the end of his college career as he will forego his senior year at Virginia, but he showed some NBA potential early on. One of the best shooters in the draft class, Anderson shots 45.2 percent (47/104) and also has the capability to be a strong defender.
  • F Bobby Portis (6-11/242): It comes as a shock to many that the SEC Player of the Year did not hail from Kentucky, to Portis it is nothing. The Arkansas product averaged solid numbers with 17.5 points and 9 rebounds a game. With the possibility of developing into a stretch-4 and having unseen post moves because he was doubled throughout college, he could be a nice fit for the Wizards.
  • F Kevon Looney (6-9/220): The freshman will be a first round target for his potential over his production at UCLA. The 11.6 points per game on 47 percent shooting from the field and 63 percent shooting from the charity stripe will not blow anyone away; however, it is his physical attributes, including a 7-4 wingspan, which attracts many franchises.
  • F Montrezl Harrell (6-8/240): When he is determined, the polarizing Louisville product can man handle anybody he wants to on the court. Harrell is long and is a defensive enforcer and is known to be a diligent worker. The lack of size means it would be difficult to play at center, but without a consistent jump shot it could be a reach for the Wizards system.
  • F Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (6-7/210): Not know for his offensive ability (11.2 PPG), the former Arizona Wildcat’s immediate impact will come on the defensive end and possibly as a wing player on fast break as he is known for his athleticism. Hollis-Jefferson was voted first team All-Pac 12 and to the league’s all-defensive team.

In the second round there are a lot more options. The hope is that the Wizards management will simply draft the best talent available and hope to score a diamond in the rough in the same way that Marc Gasol (48th) and Marcin Gortat (57th) were selected.

Most recently, the Wizards traded away the rights to their second round pick, Jordan Clarkson, to the Lakers for cash considerations. In the past seven years, only Shelvin Mack has played a game for the Wizards as a second round pick. This can be blamed on poor logic from the Wizards thinking they could stash foreign players overseas as well as failing to attempt the development of young players. Although this is a possibility to happen again, 26 of the 30 players that the Wizards invited to pre-draft workouts are non-first round picks meaning the coaching staff might be committed to bringing in young talent to develop into a contributor.

Potential Second Round/Undrafted Targets:

  • G Tyler Harvey (6-4/185): Out of Eastern Washington, Harvey was an elite pure scorer at the college level averaging 23.1 points a game and shooting 43.1 percent (128 of 297) from three. His young age of 21 is an advantage as the Wizards would be able to mold him into their scheme.
  • G Corey Hawkins (6-3/195): Like Harvey, Hawkins is a pure sharpshooter out of UC Davis. After improving his percentage from beyond the arc drastically, Davis shot a whopping 48.8 percent (81 of 166) but his height will be a concern at the next level.
  • G Dez Wells (6-6/215): Besides being the long time childhood friend of John Wall, Wells fits the style of what the Wizards like in their guards; a slasher who gets to the rim. Although he might not be known for a great shooting career at Maryland, the strong and athletic Terp has worked on his mechanics which he put on display at his pre-draft workout.
  • F Brandon Ashley (6-9/230): On a loaded Arizona roster, Ashley carved out a solid 12 points and 5 rebound average while shooting at over a 50% clip from the field. The lengthy Wildcat is a career 38.2 percent (26 of 68) three point shooter and has a chance of being developed into a stretch-4.
  • F David Laury (6-9/245): Laury performed at a lesser stage at Iona but put up solid numbers with 20 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, a block and steal a game. Like Ashley, Laury is a potential stretch-4 candidate after shooting 38 percent (27 of 71) from beyond the college arc.
  • F Maurice Walker (6-10/250): With the potential of Nene being on the trading block next season and the likely loss of Kevin Seraphin, the Wizards could use a skilled offensive big man. Walker is big enough to play the center position, while still mobile enough to defend the three.

There is talent to be drafted next Thursday and if the Wizards want to be able to compete with the Cleveland’s and Chicago’s of the East, they will have to take advantage of it. Washington is a club with possibly too many old faces as Wall, Porter, and Beal are the only players under the age of 25. Whether the Wizards draft guards or big men, they can improve their team in whichever way they go. My prediction is Bobby Portis, IF Jerian Grant is not available, in the first round and Dez Wells in the second.

Washington Wizards Roster Situation Heading into 2015 Offseason and NBA Draft

After getting bounced out of the NBA Playoffs in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals for the second year in a row, the Washington Wizards have to start looking towards next year. The first step in that process is evaluating the roster with a keen eye on those who are not guaranteed to be on the roster next season. The Wizards have four unrestricted free agents this summer: Rasual Butler, Will Bynum, Drew Gooden, and Kevin Seraphin. Additionally, Garrett Temple and — more importantly, Paul Pierce — have player options for next season.

Butler will likely be satisfied with a veteran’s minimum contract and he single-handedly won early regular season games as a result of his hot shooting. The 36-year-old vet lacked playing time late in the season which correlated to his mediocre 3-point shooting, possibly an effect of tired legs. However, if the Wizards would rather have an older somewhat proven shooter, though far past his peak, rather than trying to develop undrafted free agents, Butler will have a job in DC.

Will Bynum secured the 15th man on the roster late last season after the Wizards played around with multiple free agents after waiving Summer League MVP Glen Rice Jr. Bynum has enough experience to find work elsewhere in the NBA, if the Wizards decide to pass on the undersized guard. Similarly to Butler, if the Wizards do not draft at their positions and have open roster spots, they might lean towards bringing back the veteran instead of taking a chance on an undrafted free agent.

Out of all the unrestricted free agents, Drew Gooden played the most minutes late in the regular season and post-season, not including Pierce who has a player option. Gooden is a 13-year veteran but is a true stretch four, unlike Nene and Kris Humphries, who is reported to be developing a 3-point stroke. Gooden shot 39 percent from beyond the arc this past season including an effective 46.2 percent (12 of 26) during the post-season. Moreover, the former fourth overall pick was the most effective PF for the Wizards in guarding other big men with jump shot threats. Gooden will likely demand more than just the veteran’s minimum and as a result could ask for a two year deal that could include a player option to allow for flexibility for an aging player.

Kevin Seraphin certainly improved from a disappointing 2013-2014 season as he doubled his points, rebounding, and minutes played production. Moreover, there are few big men with his set of skills, low post moves, jump hooks, and elbow jumpers, in such a powerful body. As a result, the 25-year-old center will demand more than the nearly $4 million he made this year because he is about to enter his prime. The France native wants a chance to compete for the starting job, which will not be in DC after Gortat finished the first year of his five-year max deal. Washington has likely seen the last of Seraphin, but it should not be too much of a hit next year with the league transitioning to a small ball approach.

Garrett Temple is a well-traveled veteran as the Wizards are his sixth NBA team and has also played a year in Italy’s pro league; however, the LSU product has always been known for his effective defense. After missing more than the final month of the regular season with a hamstring tear, Temple looked rusty and ineffective in the playoffs when being forced into action with John Wall’s wrist injury. Temple was 1 of 6 from the field, 5 of 8 from the free throw line, and had one assist to this three turnovers in 26 minutes of work during the Hawks series. That being said, Temple is a solid role player that is in the good graces of the Wizards brace and has told CSN Washington that he is likely to exercise his player option. Temple’s contribution to the organization comes less during the game and more from his ability to push John Wall and Bradley Beal on the practice court at just over $1 million.

It is safe to say the Wizards would desperately love to have Paul Pierce back because of his ability to take clutch shots in big situations as he demonstrated in Game 3 against the Hawks. There are a lot of different options for Pierce to say the least. Immediately after having his potential game tying shot waived off during Game 6 in the same series versus the Hawks, Pierce hinted at the possibility of retirement as he stated he had to “see how my body feels, how it responds. It’s tough when you get older going through these 82 [game] grinds”. After deciding not to take part in exit interviews, rumors surfaced that Pierce might opt out of his contract with the Wizards to return home to California and reunite with his former-Celtics coach Doc Rivers as a Los Angeles Clipper.

Soon thereafter, however, when Pierce went on Mad Dog Sports Radio’s “The Players Tribune” show he gave the DC faithful something to feel happy about. When discussing the Hawks series, he included himself as part of the Wizards using pronouns like “we” and “us”. For instance, The Truth detailed “we really have a really good young team, and a couple budding superstars” and “we felt like we were the better team if we had stayed healthy”. With Pierce having until the end of the month to opt into a $5.5 million contract, it might not be until after the draft that the Wizards know whether they have their future Hall of Famer back. That being said, Pierce did say that he will be making his decision in the next couple of weeks on June 4. Most recently, the Clippers were rumored to acquire Lance Stephenson in a trade according to Adrian Wojnarowski. Such a move could indicate that The Truth turned Doc Rivers down and will either look to retire or return to DC.

Even though the Wizards have nine guaranteed players back for the 2015-2016 season, the Wizards will have to make moves now that take into account them moving forward during the next offseason. Next year the Wizards will have to worry about the expiring contracts of Bradley Beal, Nene, and Ramon Sessions.

Current players aside, if the Wizards truly want to make a run at arguably the second best player in the game and DC native Kevin Durant, they will have to be looking at a max contract that has an annual salary north of $20 million a year.

Bradley Beal is clearly a franchise player for the Wizards and will likely get a max deal next summer even though he will be a restricted free agent. Beal might not draw the same average $17 million as John Wall did when he signed his extension last year, but it should be north of Marcin Gortat’s $12 million a year. Much of the final number will be determined by Beal’s ability or inability to stay healthy which will in turn correlate to his production, which we could see to be in the ball park of 20 points a game if he plays to his potential.

Nene might be the most intriguing player on the Wizards roster as a whole. At times the big Brazilian is unstoppable in the paint both as a scorer and a rebounder and we have seen spurts of that throughout the season, but never consistently. Then in the playoffs he saw limited playing time behind Drew Gooden because of Randy Wittman’s smaller lineups to combat the stretch four options of both the Toronto Raptors and Atlanta Hawks. When Nene was acquired for JaVale McGee four years ago, it seemed like a great move but now with the talk of the Wizards starting to play small ball, it is possible that Nene could be moved to the backup center position. If that were to happen, Nene has always expressed his displeasure in having to play the 5 spot on the floor, which could result in him being on the trading block come February 2016 if not sooner.

Ramon Sessions was a trade target for the Wizards during the buildup of the 2014 playoff run, but Ernie Grunfeld finally struck a deal to acquire the veteran in exchange for the ultimate veteran point guard Andre Miller. Sessions’s skill set to play both guard positions as well as the ability to add more tempo to the second unit drew Washington to his liking after he saw limited playing time with the Sacramento Kings. With still another year on his contract, Ramon Sessions told me he likes the fit and is excited to get a better grasp of the system heading into next year. The one knock on the eight-year veteran is his lack of a three point shot as he is a career 31.2 percent shooter from beyond the arc.

With potentially nine free agents over the next two years there could be a lot of new faces on the Wizards; however, I would say only Kevin Seraphin and Nene are locks to leave. If the Wizards change their track record and decide to start developing younger talent, Rasual Butler, Will Bynum, and Ramon Sessions might not re-sign with the club. Going into next week’s draft, the Wizards should look to draft the best player available to surround the core players of John Wall, Bradley Beal, Marcin Gortat, and the playoff version of Otto Porter.

Washington Wizards Work Out Former Maryland Terrapin Two Weeks before 2015 NBA Draft

When the Washington Wizards bowed out of the NBA Playoffs in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, they stayed at the 19th overall spot in the draft determined by their 46-36 regular season record. The Wizards will also pick 19th in the second round, 49th overall, a selection where Ernie Grunfeld and Randy Wittman will try to find a diamond in the rough. Today the Wizards held their fourth pre-draft workout sessions, which was headlined by former Maryland Terrapin star G Dez Wells.

After having two sessions early last week and now two more this week, the Wizards have seen 24 players up close and personal. The three players who Washington has worked out that could be first round targets are G Jerian Grant from Notre Dame, PG Delon Wright out of Utah, and SG Rashad Vaughn, the freshman Phenom from UNLV. All others are possible second round picks and/or undrafted free agent possibilities.

The Wizards have focused on bringing in guards and tall big men to assess, but surprisingly no small forwards with the questionable depth behind Otto Porter after the potential departure/retirement of Paul Pierce. With the small possibility of getting a lock impact player, such as a Karl Anthony-Towns or Jahlil Okafor, Washington has diversified their pre-draft selection pool by going after the star players from non-power schools. The Wizards have brought in 12 players from lesser tiered schools to evaluate the possibility of their skills translating to a big jump in competition.

Although seen to be too small to play the small forward position at a generous 6’ 6’’ (came in at 6’ 3’’ without shoes at the combine) Dez Wells is an intriguing fit for the Wizards. He has minimal ball handling skills and is still developing his jump shot, but Wells has a unique style of play. Like John Wall, who Wells grew up and played high school basketball with in Raleigh, NC, the former Terp is a beast in transition and can finish through contact with a strong upper body. In a half court set Wells is also a great slasher to the rim where he finishes with great success. Wells has also developed post moves against smaller defenders, which has the possibility of translating to the pros.

With Bradley Beal and Ramon Sessions being the only true players to get playing time at the shooting guard position during the playoffs, the Wizards might be interested in signing an aggressive driver to better complement their bench scoring. Wells is also a shutdown defender who can guard multiple positions as he has effectively faced off against the likes of DeAngelo Russell, Sam Dekker, and Denzel Valentine. Many thought the Wizards partially pulled the trigger on Porter two years ago at the No. 3 overall pick because of his local connection via the Georgetown Hoyas, if the same holds true for the Maryland superstar, the Wizards could reap the benefits once Wells is fully developed.

When Wells spoke to reporters after his intense work out, he believed his athleticism, strength, ability to get to the basket, and playmaking talents would translate to the next level. He honestly chipped in that he will still work on his ball handling. Wells also added that he has developed a sounder mechanical shooting form through repetition in training to the heights where he feels he is at the top of his game. As expected, the local Terp said he is happy to play anywhere in the NBA but would “LOVE” to play with John Wall, “my big-brother” again. Wells has already worked out with eight teams including today with the Wizards and still has three more showcases to attend (76ers, Nets, and Pistons). As a Maryland Terrapin faithful who has seen Dez Wells soar through the rafters of the Comcast/Xfinity Centers on thunderous dunks, I can attest to the unique ability to be a force in the NBA and hopefully as a Washington Wizard.

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