The Washington Wizards find themselves in a very weird situation. After finishing 49-33 in 2017, their best season since 1979, they have been on a downward spiral, going 100-136 in the three seasons after. They’ve been hit with injuries, but none bigger than John Wall tearing his Achilles in early 2019. Without John Wall in the lineup, Washington has no chance to compete for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, as they’ve gone 62-93 without the five-time all-star.
Many speculations have been going around that Bradley Beal has drawn interest from many teams over the last year, specifically from teams like the Brooklyn Nets and Dallas Mavericks. But Washington has shown no true interest in trading away the two-time all-star.
With the core of Wall-Beal-Hachimura, they have their core, they just need to add some more pieces to return to competing in the Eastern Conference. With contracts like guys like Ian Mahinmi and CJ Miles coming off the books, Washington has room to make some solid moves to bolster their roster heading into the 2021 season.
Here’s some moves I think they should consider:
1. Re-signing Davis Bertans is the most obvious move they need to consider. They gave up the rights to Aaron White, a guy they drafted in the second round of the 2015 draft, who has yet to play a second in the NBA. He’s one of the best shooters, probably the best shooting big man in the league, and Washington lacks shooters, they need to re-sign him.
One key with trading for Bertans, they acquired his bird rights, which means they can go over the salary cap to re-sign him, so if they go after another free agent before signing Bertans, they can retain him easier while building the best team possible. He has stated that he enjoys DC, and GM Tommy Shepard has said bringing back Bertans is “top priority” for him the offseason, so I expect him to be back with the team.
2. Draft/sign a small forward. Washington has lacked talent at the small forward position since Caron Butler, and that truly affects them on the defensive end. They had Kelly Oubre Jr, but they traded him to the Phoenix Suns back in December 2018, which was a mistake looking back on it. I think if they go after a guy in free agency or even a trade, Demar Derozan is someone they should target. Yes, he is not good at shooting the three-ball, shooting 20% in the last two seasons, but with guys like Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans, I don’t think there will be much pressure for him to lean heavily on the three-ball. Even without his low three-point percentage, he has still managed to shoot over 50% from the field while scoring almost 22 points per contest.
Maybe a guy like Issac Okoro will be a guy they target in the draft. He’s really good on the defensive end but lacks the offense.
3. Get better rim protection. Thomas Bryant is a very good building piece, but he’s not the big man that Washington needs. He’s a very good offensive threat but lacks the defensive skill to become a true everyday starter in the NBA. Onyeka Okongwu is someone I heard would be a dream scenario for Washington. Averaging 16 points, almost 9 rebounds, and 3 shots blocked per game at USC, the 19-year-old would be a perfect fit in DC. He would instantly fix the defensive issue that Washington has had at the center position for years, as the Ian Mahinmi experience failed miserably. Myles Turner is someone that has not been directly tied into Washington, but with the rise of Domantas Sabonis, he clearly wants out of Indiana. What Washington would have to give up to acquire the big man remains a question, but it’s something to keep an eye on.