Posts Tagged ‘john wall’

PG

SG

SF

PF

C

John Wall Bradley Beal Trevor Ariza Nene Emeka Okafor
Shelvin Mack Jordan Crawford Chris Singleton Trevor Booker Kevin Seraphin
Jan Vesely Andray Blatche

2012-2013 Salary: $59,364,062 (including Beal and Blatche)

2012-2013 Expected Salary: $52,245,560 (including Beal, excluding amnesty candidate Blatche)

Expected Salary Cap Space: Around $6 million

RFAs: (none)

UFAs: Roger Mason, Jr., Cartier Martin, Maurice Evans, James Singleton, Morris Almond, Brian Cook

Strengths: After trading away Rashard Lewis, Nick Young, and JaVale McGee for Emeka Okafor, Trevor Ariza, and Nene, the Wizards have shown their commitment to being a good defensive team: a refreshing change for fans in Washington who, even under the marginally successful Eddie Jordan-era Wizards, haven’t seen a good defensive team in many, many years.  McGee (a.k.a. “Epic Vale”) was among the top shot-blockers in the league, and boasted the highest PER (player efficiency rating) on the team, but the poor souls who watched the Wizards on a consistent basis (this panelist included) know that McGee’s stats were not an indicator of his effectiveness on defense.

All of the players in Washington’s “new” roster are extremely athletic and a few have the reputation (Ariza, Okafor, Vesely, Singleton) for being tough defensive players.  Wall and Beal both have the potential to be great defensively, but Wall was often burned by opposing teams in his second year, and Beal is, until further notice, unproven.  Still, this team should terrorize opposing offenses with their length, speed, and athleticism.  Washignton’s real strength last year was their effectiveness on the fast break (third in the NBA at 17.9 ppg).  Look for this to be further improved, now that they’ve added a sharpshooter in Beal, and get a full season with Nene, Vesely, and Ariza running the floor with the “one-man fastbreak,” John Wall.  With more competent teammates, Wall will be more effective in the fast break and the open court.  Mike Prada of Bullets Forever made an appropriate tool to measure the detriment Wall’s teammates were having on his assist total last season, and the need for such a tool was evident to anyone who watched how frustratingly often Wall’s 2011-2012 teammates flubbed open shots after a bit of playmaking from Wall.  Despite these hardships, Wall averaged eight assists per game, and that number should rise this season.

Washington’s frontcourt has been significantly upgraded, and starters Ariza, Nene, and Okafor should provide a huge rebounding boost over incumbent starters Chris Singleton, Trevor Booker, and Kevin Seraphin.  Booker and Seraphin should be excellent role players on this team, and this panelist believes that Seraphin, who showed significant polish and effort once McGee was sent out of town, could wrestle significant minutes, and maybe even the starting job, from Okafor (if minutes aren’t computed by salary).

Needs: The Wizards addressed their need for rebounding (see above) in their trade with New Orleans.  But they still have one glaring weakness: shooting.  The only players on Washington’s roster with any ability to shoot from beyond the three-point line are Jordan Crawford (29%), Ariza (33%), Singleton (35%), and presumably, Bradley Beal.  Those numbers aren’t exactly encouraging.  Ariza should benefit from playing alongside a playmaking backcourt, and may perhaps return to the form of his best season with the Lakers in a best-case scenario.  Put simply, the Wizards are one of the worst jump-shooting teams in the NBA, and desperately need another shooter to take the scoring pressure off of Bradley Beal, and the defensive pressure off of John Wall.  Wall suffers the most from Washington’s shooting woes, as defenses feel free to converge on him in the driving lane, not fearing kick-outs to shooters who are more likely to miss a shot than make it.

Potential Free Agent Targets:

  • Roger Mason, Jr. (UFA, WAS, SG) and Cartier Martin (UFA, WAS, SG/SF) – Both of these players were serviceable shooters last season for the Wizards.  Mason is a well-liked, well-respected veteran who can hit from deep, especially when he’s on a hot streak.  Cartier Martin is a high-character guy with an excellent haircut who has an outside shot, and shows some ability to make cuts to the basket.  Neither of these players are long-term answers, but could likely be signed for the veteran’s minimum, and fill a significant need.
  • Jeff Green (UFA, BOS, SF) – “You’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?” Green isn’t the best three-point shooter available, but he is a solid midrange jump-shooter, a smart player, and a competent rebounder at the SF position.  He’s also a Georgetown alumnus (he graduated this year, after sitting out the NBA season due to a heart ailment), and by all accounts a bright, professional human being.  But to make this a valuable signing, the Wizards would have to hope his heart ailment: a) hasn’t atrophied his game; b) won’t cause him to miss any more time; and c) keeps his price low.  Signing Green for between $3 million and the mid-level per year would be an intriguing pickup for the Wizards
  • Carlos Delfino (UFA, MIL, SF) – Carlos Delfino isn’t going to radically restructure your team, but he provides dependable three-point shooting (career 36%) at the small forward position, something that Washington will need.  Chris Singleton, touted as a defensive specialist, and developed as a three-and-D prospect, hasn’t shown that he can excel at either aspect of that player tagline, and shouldn’t necessarily be tolerated on the court when better options are available.  Delfino and Ariza sharing time at the small forward position in Washington seems like a good plan of action going forward, if Washington can nab Delfino for an affordable price on a short-term deal.
  • Mickael Pietrus (UFA, BOS, SF) – Decent three-point shooter, mean on defense. Pietrus would be a relatively good fit on this Wizards team, but is overvalued due to his contributions with Orlando and Boston in recent years, and will likely sign with a more established contender.
  • Jodie Meeks (UFA, PHI, SG) – Philadelphia is likely to re-sign the inexpensive Meeks, as he is one of their only players who can hit jump shots outside of Louis Williams.  But he could be an excellent fit in limited minutes with the Wizards, and is a career 37% three-point shooter.

Potential Trades:

  • Dwight Howard (ORL) to Washington for Emeka Okafor, Jan Vesely, and Trevor Booker – Dream on.  Orlando wouldn’t do it.  Dwight would bitch endlessly before faking a back injury and leaving the following summer.
  • The Wizards have very few tradable assets, and since they’ve just acquired Ariza and Okafor in positions of need, they are unlikely to make any other trades.  Another issue with the Wizards is that most of their second-string talent is still playing on rookie contracts, making salary matches difficult.  Look for the Wizards to make one or two minor signings in free agency, and let the great experiment begin!

For the most part, the 2011-2012 season was a soul-crushing disappointment for Wizards fans who were hoping that the “Plan” outlined by Ted Leonsis when he bought the team would begin to produce results measurable in more than abstract notions of increasing maturity and development from the young players littering Washington’s roster.  This disappointment was worsened by the media’s frequent portrayal of Washington as nothing more than a meme content farm.  But just as the season, and more specifically, the trade deadline was winding down, the Wizards began to distance themselves from the identity of the old regime by shedding JaVale “Pierre” McGee and Nick “Swaggy P” Young while picking up Nene Hilario. Most of us who follow the Wizards hope that the team uses their one-time amnesty clause release on Andray “Lap Dance Tuesdray” Blatche.

Indeed, every player currently under contract, other than Blatche, is a product of Washington selections in the draft or a trade executed during current owner Ted Leonsis’s tenure. Leonsis, in a recent Michael Lee article, said what Wizards fans have been waiting to hear: the Wizards will keep their draft pick, be aggressive in free agency, and then attempt to actually win! Their first step in that direction this summer should be to draft Bradley Beal. Especially if MKG is already off of the board.

Some may see Beal as a replacement for Young, but they are vastly different players. Beal is primarily a perimeter shooter, but he has also shown the ability to get to the rim. More importantly, he’s not just a shooter.  He grabbed over five rebounds per game in his freshman year at Florida. Throw in a few assists as well, and Beal looks far more like the complete player that the Wizards need to pair alongside John Wall in the backcourt, a guy who doesn’t over-control the ball and can space the floor to open up driving lanes for Wall and Washington’s cadre of athletic cutters.  Beal has high basketball IQ and displays anticipation on the defensive end, despite being slightly undersized at 6’4.  The Wizards were subjected to the irresponsible and at some times seemingly indignant inefficiency of Jordan Crawford as the starting shooting guard for much of this year.  Fortunately, Crawford has shown that he doesn’t really care when (or where) he shoots it, and found success scoring off of the bench as well, which would make room for Beal as the starter.

The Wizards are a strange team because they have what-some-might-call promising young players in several positions without having clear-cut starters for the future.  There is an argument that the Wizards should solidify the two-guard position with Beal, the small forward position with MKG (should he be there) or the power forward position with Robinson. But ultimately, their most glaring deficiency is jump shooting ability. Beal would be a great fit, one some members of the panel were hoping the Wizards would take at #2 had they not been leapfrogged by New Orleans.

There was a report out of Cleveland that the Wizards would not let MKG slide past them at #3 if he was still on the board.  In this mock, he is off of the board. This panelist is of the opinion that even were he still there, the Wizards would select an available Beal.  The report may be a smokescreen, and if it is, kudos to team-president-for-life Ernie Grunfeld.  By claiming that they favor MKG at #3, and leaking that information to the Cavaliers, the Wizards are attempting to prevent the Cavs from packaging #4 and #24 for Charlotte’s #2.  The Cavaliers, like the Wizards, desperately need perimeter shooting help to take pressure off of their young point guard.  Here’s hoping that: a) Charlotte owner Michael Jordan doesn’t want to spite the Wizards, b) the Cavs buy Grunfeld’s semi-transparent leak, and c) the Wizards get their guy here.

If they do draft Beal, the Wizards will likely target small forwards in free agency to shore up their league-worst small forward rotation of Chris Singleton and Mo Evans.  Jeff Green may be the biggest name out there (outside of Nicolas Batum) this year at the position, which isn’t great news for anyone looking for a significant upgrade.  If Abe Pollin were still alive, this panelist believes he would gladly pay Jeff Green starter’s dollars, heart problems be damned.  However, he is not.  Leonsis and Grunfeld, in “lock-step” of course, will have to choose between taking a big dollar risk in Nicolas Batum, a starter who fits perfectly with the Wizards but is by no means a star, and who looks to command quasi-star money at or around $10 million.  Other available options are Carlos Delfino, Mickael Pietrus, Alonzo Gee, and Andrei Kirilenko.

Adjusted for fit, affordability, assumption that Beal is on the team, and likelihood of signing*:   (1) Gee; (2) Batum; (3) Delfino; (4) Green; (5) Pietrus; (6) Kirilenko.

*If you were wondering where Gerald Wallace is then you don’t know what he did to this franchise.

UPDATE: Well, it’s just like the Wizards to invalidate much of my free agency talk in this post.  Their trade with the Hornets also most likely erases Thomas Robinson from contention here.  Regardless of your opinion on the merits of the trade, Washington now (contrary to my assertions earlier in the post) has a more fully realized starting lineup: Wall (PG), Beal (SG), Ariza (SF), Nene (PF), Okafor (C).  Of course, it would be all too easy for Michael Jordan to exact revenge on the Washington franchise now that they so clearly need to draft Bradley Beal.

(C. Dirks)