So the Wizards are finally putting together a nice little run with a recent four-game winning streak. It's really odd because they did so without some important players like Bradley Beal, Alan Anderson (yet to make his season debut) and Nene. As a fan, it's great to see the Wizards won despite the injuries, but the reality is the Wizards need those players to be a playoff team this year and beyond this year they will likely need a bit more if they want to become contenders.
Let's assume that Kevin Durant is not coming here this summer (I know that isn't really a great thing to think about). Let's discuss not necessarily what players this team needs by name, but the types of players that will be needed.
Right now, the Wizards are expected to have 4 players under contract next year, which includes John Wall, Otto Porter Jr., Kelly Oubre Jr., and Marcin Gortat. Then you have Bradley Beal as a restricted free agent, who will likely return. They will form the Wizards' foundation for next year.
To fill out the rest of the roster, we need to ask a series of important question that will lead us to the type of player(s) that will be needed to fill out the rest of the roster.
1. Can Otto Porter be a starting small forward on a contending Wizards team?
Otto Porter is a very skilled wing player that is capable of doing many things on the court, but his play this year has made this a valid question. It's not so much that he's a bad player, but it doesn't always seem like his skill set matches the style of play and the players around him.
He is currently shooting 28 percent from three which hurts when you are trying to space the floor. With a player that plays off the ball next to Wall and Beal, you need efficiency on the offensive end. You do not need a player that is a below average three point shooter playing on the wing. The objective of the Wizards' current offense is for space to be created by legitimate thee point threats. If teams do not fear Otto's ability to shoot the three they will cheat in to take away Wall's driving ability and force Otto to make those shots.
The only way he can be effective is he either needs to drastically improve his three-point shot or the team may have to reconsider how they will use him in the 'spacing' portion of the offense. As we seen in the playoffs last year like when the Warriors were facing the Grizzlies, if teams see a player as a liability on the offensive end, they can greatly exploit that to their advantage, particularly in a playoff series.
In addition to his struggles offensively, Otto has been inconsistent on the defensive end. He hasn't had the impact on that end of the floor that you expect especially considering his up and down offensively play. There have been times this year where he has been outplayed by the league's best SFs which is understandable, but again if you are looking at this team as a championship contender in the future, can you afford to have a starting small forward who hasn't shown that he can excel consistently at either end.
I think this year is extremely important for Otto. If he is able to find his groove, become more efficient on offense and lock down better on defense then he can be effective as the starting small forward, but if he can't improve on BOTH of those areas then realistically this team should consider other options and perhaps even consider starting Kelly Oubre, who has played well in his short stint as a starter but the sample size is simply way too small to assume he can handle that position at this time.
2. We have Jared Dudley now, but what is the future of the stretch four?
Let's be honest, Jared Dudley is a good role player. He is smart, a great leader and just like Otto Porter has many skills, but realistically he should not the future stretch four for this team. If anything he is a placeholder that would probably be better served as a reserve player, but because of the lack of depth at the 4 spot he is pushed into the starting role.
Despite his effort he is still undersized against traditional power forwards and he does not have the athletic ability to take advantage of those match-ups on the other end. The thing that does help him though is he is shooting an incredible 49 percent from 3 point range. That shooting is essential to his effectiveness on the court but if the Wizards want to firm up this position, they may need to sacrifice having that type of shooting to have someone that is a bit larger, who rebounds better than Dudley and can still guard traditional and stretch fours. That is no easy task, but this is a key position to making the pace and space truly effective.
Assuming Dudley holds the fort down for a lengthier time would be a mistake, but finding a better replacement maybe challenging, but could end up being the difference in what direction this team goes in.
3. How do the Wizards address their posts?
As stated earlier, the only big man under contract past this year is Marcin Gortat. Gortat play, which has picked up in the past couple of weeks, is sporadic at times, but he becomes a necessary piece because he is so effective as a pick and roll option and he is the closest thing to a rim protector that the team has.
How does this team help this situation? The issue with their current group of posts is they are mostly too slow to be effective in this uptempo style of play. The Wizards will need players who are capable of getting out and running the floor but also can rebound effectively to make up for the lack of size on the floor when the Wizards go small. They would also benefit greatly from having at least one big that is capable of protecting the rim.
If the Wizards are going to play small, they need bigs who can rebound but who can cover for the opposing team's quick guards that will try to penetrate. Without someone capable of obstructing a penetration to the rim, teams can use the lack of size against the Wizards. Having someone besides Gortat who can bother them will eliminate this.
4. Is there anybody the Wizards should bring back?
Ramon Sessions is the perfect backup point guard that this team has been looking for. At the age of 29, he is still young enough to run this system and contribute for years to come. As mentioned before Jared Dudley could bringing great depth off the bench. Depending on how healthy he is and how well he plays,
Alan Anderson could be a great fit, but only time will tell. Garrett Temple is also a great player to have as wing depth. He is a great defender, doesn't have to play every game, but in cases of injuries he would serve as a great backup SG/SF that is capable of contributing. It's too soon to determine if Jarell Eddie is a keeper. Outside of that, I think this team needs to let the rest of their players on expiring contracts go.
The Wizards will need the following:
- Another starting SF if Otto Porter does not improve his play this season
- A stretch four who is a little bit bigger than Dudley, who can rebound better than him, and shoot a respectable percentage
- At least two posts who both run the floor effectively, can protect the rim and/or rebound
Here's a suggested lineup for the 2016-17 season:
- PG - Wall/Sessions/?
- SG - Beal/Anderson/Temple
- SF - Porter/Oubre/?
- PF - ?/Dudley/?
- C - Gortat/?/?
It's certainly not an impossible list but the reality is that if the Wizards want to commit to building a contender, they need a roster that suits their current style of players.
The Wizards' roster will likely get a big overhaul unless they pull off a miraculous run this year. Hopefully the roster will be more suited for the pace and space system they are running. There is always a chance that this process can start before this year's trade deadline if they aren't able to get back into the playoff picture soon
What do you think? Do you think there are some players on this current roster that they should consider that I did not mention? Do you think Otto Porter is going to be able to be the long-term small forward in the future? What players do you realistically think would enhance this team? What other needs do you think the Wizards have?