I would find it extremely hard to be a Wiz fan right now. Sure, you fired your horrible GM, but you haven’t signed a new one. Your owner is still viewed as one of the most delusional and worst owners in the league. Your head coach is the exact same guy that couldn’t win with KD, Russ, and Harden under his wing. To cap it all off, the worst contract in league history (sorry John Wall) kicks in next year. We haven’t even touched the fact that Dwight Howard is not only still on this team, but will be making $5.6 million next year.
However, we aren’t here to talk about the sins of the old Wizards right now. What we can discuss is how the Wizards are one of what I consider to be the “silent deaths” of the new lottery. The Wizards slipped four spots lottery night, sliding from their projected 6th pick to their current 9th pick. While the highlights of the new era of lottery have been well discussed, some teams slipping went unnoticed and unreported. The Wizards, unfortunately, have suffered in silence with their horrible roster and now shitty pick.
But there may be some hope, and it may come from unexpected places. While their roster is bad, most of it is tradeable. Bradley Beal, Tomas Satoransky, and Thomas Bryant are all great young players. Hell, Bobby Portis is decent enough to start on a bad team (like the Suns cough cough). While I am sure the Wiz may not want to move on from these players, it would not be good to keep more than 2 of these players. Tomas has a very high trade value, and Beal is an All-Star on a cheap(ish) contract. Their values are both high, but teams are dying to acquire Beal. If the Lakers strike out in free agency again, it would behoove them to acquire Beal if Mike Conley’s price is too high. However, I do think that, if they cannot re-sign Bobby Portis on a cheap deal, then they should let him sign an offer sheet. While Bobby can put up monster stats on a rebuild team, he is a locker room nightmare. Even though the Wiz will need players to post numbers for them in the rebuild ahead, they have John Wall for that. They don’t need a ball-dominant, non-stretch 4 on their team. So, by process of elimination, the only value player they should try not to trade is Thomas Bryant. Bryant is an absolute monster on the glass and defensive end, and I can’t wait to see him in a pick-and-roll with John Wall.
However, this does pose a problem for the Wiz in the grand scope of this proposed rebuild. Their roster currently consists of 6 players under contract, and an additional 4 that they hold restricted rights for (make that 3 since Sam Dekker will not be resigned). The 6 under contract make the salary cap, and that’s still before resignings and free agency acquisitions. Sure, Jabari Parker is under team control, and his $20 miillion contract should get waived. Jabari is an untradeable player, and no one wants him in the slightest. Compare that to Ian Mahinmi’s roughly $15.5 million expiring contract, which can easily be traded. Even though Ian could FINALLY be off the Wiz books after a horrible stint with the team, they will undoubtedly take on a longer contract of a worse player if it means that they can get a good pick out of it. The Wiz goal right now should be to enter a total rebuild and acquire assets. Satoransky and Portis can net them a low first round pick or some seconds. Mahinmi could net them a spectacular late lottery pick if they play their cards right. However, Beal could net the biggest haul for them if they called a certain team in LA, and they might be able to form a semi-capable starting lineup for their team. Who wouldn’t want to watch Ball, Ingram, and Bryant try and mature into a capable team?
I know some Wiz fans might scowl at the thought of having to endure Lavar Ball in their stadium all the time for games, but ask yourself this question: who wants an All-Star shooting guard AND is willing to trade for one? To be honest, I can’t think of many. There are certainly teams that need an all-Star, and they would gladly take one at any position. However, they more than likely are not willing to pay for one asset or contract wise. While this is a little too forward thinking, I think the only team that can reasonably and willingly make that trade is the Los Angeles Lakers. A Lakers-Wizards trade would undoubtedly have to involve the 4th pick, and could result in more than Beal moving from the Wiz. This would also only happen if the Lakers could not, in any way, shape, or form, get any other All-Star via trade. Again, this is the best case scenario for the Wiz. It would help jumpstart a rebuild for sure, providing they make the smart move and draft whichever is available between Jarrett Culver and De’Andre Hunter.
I could also see a trade between the Celtics and Wizards involving the Wizards trading back to get more picks. This would allow the Celts to have (by my calculations) the 9th and the 14th. Would the Wizards take the 20th pick, the 22nd pick, and a player like Rozier? I would. They could get a good point guard behind John Wall, and could net some late round gems like Cam Johnson, Naz Reid, or PJ Washington (according to some mocks). That wouldn’t be a horrible start to a rebuild, and I’d pat myself on the back if I was the Wiz’s GM. Then again, I don’t know what the Wiz will do since they don’t have a GM currently. Hopefully they address that soon, and maybe send some feelers out for this kind of trade. I’d definitely find it hard to turn down.
However, we have to focus on the here-and-now for the Wiz, since they don’t even have a GM to make or talk of making these trades. Which puts them in a rough spot with the 9th pick in the draft. Current mocks have their best options at Jarrett Culver (HIGHLY unlikely), Cam Reddish, Jaxson Hayes, Rui Hachimura, Goga Bitadze, Nassir Little, Sekou Doumbouya, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Keldon Johnson, Romeo Langford, and Bol Bol. The Wiz have somewhat solidified their big rotation with Thomas Bryant. While he is not perfect, he is better than anyone on their roster. However, with Trevor Ariza hitting the open market, they might be looking to upgrade the SF position since Satoransky is more of a point guard than a small forward. They are completely devoid of talent at the PF position since Bobby Portis is expecting to receive a max contract (and I thought my delusions of grandeur were out of control). So, as I am sure you are guessing, they pretty much need every position in the frontcourt fixed. The 9th pick is tough to do that, since they are sandwiched between the Hawks, a team with two picks at 8 and 10. They easily could just evaluate the three to four best guys in that region, and go from there. Since the the last thing the Wiz need is an undersized or not-so-skilled player on their injured/depleted roster, say goodbye to them looking at Rui Hachimura, Nassir Little, Keldon Johnson, Romeo Langford, and Bol Bol. Off of that cut alone, that has the Wiz down to Cam Reddish, Jaxson Hayes, Goga Bitadze, Sekou Doumbouya, and Nickeil Alexander-Walker. I highly doubt Jarrett Culver will drop past the Hawks, let alone reach the Hawks at the 8th pick. Operating under that logic, we can begin to refine what they should do down a bit.
I should start this off by saying I personally do not get the hype surrounding Jaxson Hayes. He had 9 total assists in his tenure with the Longhorns, and could easily be bodied up by more physical big men on both ends of the court. Those are not great numbers, and neither is the fact that he is very undersized at 220 lbs for his 6’11” frame. Sure, his 2.2 block shots per game is great to point out, but they came primarily when he was helping off his guy or going up against a smaller big. I don’t expect him to do much at all, and I think Mahinmi or Howard will actually be bad influences on his game. If the Wiz were inclined to go after a center, they should target Goga Bitadze. I talked extensively about what Goga can do for teams in my Hawks piece, so I will briefly mention again how great of a passer and defender he is. He won’t be as good as Bryant defensively, but he will be the East’s version of Jokic. However, I do not think the Wiz should pursue a center with the 9th pick at all. They currently have three on their roster totaling about $22 million. They need to address other areas of their team, which is why they need to look at the guards and forwards. Until they have a plan in place to trade Bradley Beal, then I do not see a particularly strong reason to draft Nickeil here. He is very good, and can certainly strengthen their bench a ton until Brad gets traded. However, I can’t see them adding a player that will add more controversies to a already hectic locker room.
Therefore, I believe they will ultimately be targeting Cam Reddish and and Sekou Doumbouya with their pick. Sekou would be a great fit for the Wiz. While he may ultimately may transition to a PF, think of Serge Ibaka when you think of Sekou. An uber-athletic forward with no real offensive skills but a ton of defensive potential and instincts? Sounds like a prime defensive stretch 4 to run the court with John Wall and Bradley Beal in a fast break. It’ll take time to get him there though, but I think that, in the scope of a total rebuild, it would be beneficial to the Wiz to consider him heavily. Ultimately, I think Cam will be the one that is higher on their draft board. He has more hype than Sekou, is a small forward, and is frankly a more polished product. A defensive 3-and-D small forward that is okay not having the ball is his hands 24/7? Sounds like yet another perfect fit for Wall and Beal to have with them, but better. Sekou is an unproven prospect, whereas Cam is a proven prospect. Sure, Cam played himself out of being a top 3 pick in the draft, but he took the backseat for the star and the wannabe star on his team. That says a lot, especially considering the situation that Cam would be going in to. He’d be the safe pick for them to make, and that’s the one I hope they make.