Rafael Suanes-USA TODAY Sports
Before we can figure out what moves the Wizards could make before Thursday's trade deadline, it's time to take stock of what they actually need. In doing this, it seems like we just don't have enough information to really know.
The All-Star Game has come and gone, and now it's time to focus on arguably the bigger event on the NBA calendar: the 2013 trade deadline. So far, we've seen a couple Wizards pop up in rumors, namely Jordan Crawford, but it's been a pretty quiet few weeks. As you can see in our trade rumors roundup, the Wizards appeared in far more rumors earlier in the year surrounding James Harden and Rudy Gay than they have recently.
But as wel prepare for what are sure to be a blitzing of rumors, I think it's time for all of us to take a step back and ask ourselves this fundamental question.
What do the Wizards actually need?
Obviously, no trade should be considered until this is nailed down. A trade without a strategy is a trade made for the sake of making change, and it never works out how you'd like. But answering this question is a lot tricker than one would think.
Mostly, that's because there's such a huge discrepancy between the Wizards' "healthy team" and their "injured team." Without John Wall, the Wizards were 5-28. With him, they're 10-8. And, of course, Wall wasn't the only injured player to get healthy recently. Nene's minutes limit has gradually increased, Trevor Ariza is back after an injured hamstring and even A.J. Price's absence with a broken hand in late December was felt.
Figuring out what the "injured team" needs is pretty easy. With the possible exception of interior defenders, it needs everything. Perimeter scoring, post scoring, ball handling, you name it. But the Wizards can't make moves assuming their team is really a 5-28 club, even though the stretch exposed the roster's lack of depth. If you make moves assuming your two best players are never going to be healthy, you might as well fold and close up shop. You aren't winning anything significant regardless.
But at the same time, do we really know whether the "healthy team" is completely viable? We've only seen it together for 18 games, and a lot of small sample size theater can happen in that stretch. Players can have absurd shooting streaks. Teams can struggle to scout tendencies because they don't really know how the pieces fit together. Can the Wizards really rely on this being the kind of team they can expect to work off going forward?
Let's take a break and assume for a second that it is. Even with all the winning, Washington is the league's 23rd-best offensive team since January 12, according to NBA.com's media stats page. This is a team that commits a lot of turnovers (27th in turnover percentage since that stretch) and doesn't generate a lot of free throws. They have a developing, speedy point guard in John Wall, good post play with Nene and Emeka Okafor and improving outside shooting with Bradley Beal and Martell Webster.
What do they lack? Guard play outside of Wall and Beal has been pretty weak, for one. Crawford's in the doghouse and Garrett Temple is playing too many minutes. An excellent third guard to pair with Wall and Beal that takes care of the ball and can play solidly at both ends would be useful. Washington could also probably use one more strong perimeter player that can get to the basket and provide an offensive outlet when the shot clock runs down would also be a nice edition.
But still ... we're talking about an 18-game sample here. Any meaningful move made before Thursday will require the Wizards to sacrifice something to fill a need that may not actually be a real need in the next 18-game sample. Obviously, you can't wait around forever, but I'd like to see a larger sample than 18 games before I decide to do something meaningful.
That's why I think the best course of action is to wait. Make calls, plant seeds, but wait until the summer to really act. That's when the Wizards will really know what they need.