November 13, 2019

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 Game 4 Review: Wizards complete sweep of Raptors with win at home

FIRST SEVEN-GAME SERIES SWEEP IN FRANCHISE HISTORY

The Washington Wizards lost all three regular season meetings against the Toronto Raptors, but as Paul Pierce has said “it’s a new season” when the Wizards found themselves going into Game 4 at home already up 3-0. Entering play, the Wizards had played 36 playoff series with zero best-of-five or best-of-seven sweeps. Leading the game from start to finish with a balance scoring attack, the Wizards ended that streak, completing a sweep behind a sellout crowd with a 125-94 win over Toronto.

DC is certainly rising.

Two minutes in and the energy and pace of the game was in the Wizards favor, up 4-2 as John  Wall was serenaded with MVP chants. Washington was methodical in their offensive approach as they got to the line for nine free throw attempts within the first six minutes while shooting 3 of 5 from the field. [Read more…]

Washington Wizards Game 73 Review: Wizards begin new attempt to get back on track with victory over Hornets

John Wall forced overtime with a pull-up jumper with 9.9 seconds left in regulation, then scored seven of his game-high 32 points in overtime as the Washington Wizards halted a four-game losing streak with a 110-107 double-overtime win over the Charlotte Hornets at the Verizon Center.

Wall’s mid-range jumper with 9.5 seconds left in the second overtime sealed it.

The Wizards entered play struggling again. Having lost three in a row, the performance on and off the court is starting to spiral out of control as multiple reports of friction have occurred. Bradley Beal exited early against the Pacers in their third consecutive loss earlier in the week, but returned to the starting lineup two days later nursing a sprained right ankle. [Read more…]

Washington Wizards Game 24 Review: Wiz down Wolves to go 12 games over .500

13-2 RECORD EXTENDS BEST HOME START IN FRANCHISE HISTORY

The Washington Wizards defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves, 109-95, Tuesday night at the Verizon Center in Washington. John Wall tied a career high with 17 assists to go along with 21 points while Rasual Butler led the Wizards with 23 points off the bench. It was the Wizards’ fifth straight victory.

Washington (18-6) is now 12 games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 1978-79 season when they finished the campaign at 54-28.

“I think [Wall] still has the best ahead of him,” coach Randy Wittman said of his soaring superstar. “I want him to keep driving. He’s really been understanding that there’s nothing to rest on here. We have a chance, and he has an opportunity from a leadership standpoint, to continue to push this team. I want him to continue that, I don’t want him to take his foot off the pedal and be satisfied.”

Thaddeus Young led Minnesota with 29 points. Georgui Dieng contributed 12 points along with a team-high 12 rebounds, while Shabazz Muhammad scored 21 points off the bench. [Read more…]

Washington Wizards Game 14 Review: Wiz Fall in Rematch With Cavs

WALL HELD TO SIX POINTS, CAVS BLOW OUT WIZARDS

For the second time in six days, the Washington Wizards took the floor against the Cleveland Cavaliers, dropping the rematch Wednesday night in Cleveland, 113-87.

The second of four games that these two rivals will play this year was a mirror opposite of their first matchup in D.C. last Friday night, which the Wizards (9-5) won in an impressive fashion. [Read more…]

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