The Washington Wizards' month of January started out pretty rough with three straight losses. Then they went 8-6 the rest of the way. How they did so, was a pivotal moment, given that the Wizards went with an eight-man rotation. The players in this rotation included John Wall, Bradley Beal, Trevor Ariza, Nene, Marcin Gortat, Trevor Booker, Martell Webster, and Garrett Temple.
Why were these eight players part of this rotation? The answer is pretty simple. All eight were the only players who were playing consistently. Second, head coach Randy Wittman was trying to keep the Wizards in the thick of the playoff race despite having a sub .500 record during that time. In fact, most teams in the Eastern Conference playoff race were around that mark, if not slightly below.
The biggest takeaway from the eight-man rotation wasn't so much about the risk of injury to the players in the rotation. The rotation to me seemed like a bigger statement about the players who were NOT injured and not playing regular minutes. In other words, that eight-man rotation was a sign that the Wizards had depth issues, and needed to rectify them sooner, rather than later.
So this wasn't so much about Harrington, who suffered a knee injury in December. That leaves Jan Vesely, Chris Singleton, Otto Porter, Eric Maynor, Kevin Seraphin, and Glen Rice Jr.
Vesely and Singleton were the Wizards' draft picks from 2011, and neither were performing to expectations. They were denied their fourth-year team options which already showed that the Wizards were not particularly pleased with their performances to that point. Seraphin was drafted the same year as Wall and was also inconsistent at best.
Maynor was originally signed in the 2013 offseason to be Wall's backup at the point guard position. Given that he played very poorly during his limited time on the floor, that forced Temple and Beal to be the backup point guards when Wall took a rest.
Porter and Rice were swingmen that would have had a hard time getting into the rotation as it is, since Beal, Ariza, Webster, and even Temple would take most of the minutes at those spots. And Rice spent multiple stints in the D-League, probably in part because of this.
In February, some of these players would be traded to other teams, like Vesely and Maynor. And in the next offseason, the Wizards would let Chris Singleton walk, though they did give a qualifying offer deal to Seraphin.
So in summary, the January eight-man rotation was a precursor that the Wizards' time building primarily around the draft was over. A trade was definitely on the horizon, and some players, including Vesely and Singleton, all but knew that their time with the Wizards, if not the NBA, was coming to an end. The eight-man rotation also helped pave the way for the AARP Unit to come about during much of the latter half of the season, once Andre Miller and Drew Gooden came aboard.
January 2014 wasn't the Wizards' best month by any stretch. If anything, it was a dark time in an otherwise great season. If Wittman never did stick to this eight-man rotation, would the Wizards' record have been considerably worse? Alternatively, if Wittman didn't stick to an eight-man rotation, could they perhaps have received more value in a trade with other teams for players along the likes of Jan Vesely and Eric Maynor, among others?
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