The Washington Wizards are quickly approaching one of the most important and unpredictable summers in the history of their franchise. The team will have plenty of money to spend on talent and lots of roster spots that need to be filled, even once you factor in the max deal they'll likely offer Bradley Beal to keep him in Washington.
To help guide the process (and give us something to talk about because the Wizards don't have a draft pick this summer) we've created a list ranking the Top 30 players available, based strictly on their talent and how they would help the Wizards.
30. Arron Afflalo (Age: 30, Position: SG/SF)
If you’re looking just at his individual production last season, Afflalo didn’t drop off much from his peak years in Denver. However, some of the advanced On/Off numbers paint a much different picture.
According to ESPN’s Real Plus/Minus, Afflalo ranked 77th out of 98 shooting guards in the NBA this season, behind guys like Jarell Eddie, Aaron Harrison, Lamar Patterson and Hollis Thompson. Oddly, the thing that really hurt his RPM was his defense, which has been his calling card for most of his career. You can probably blame a lot of Afflalo’s dropoff this season on his environment. The Knicks have a way of dragging everyone down. That said, he does turn 31 in October, so age is definitely a concern moving forward.
Still, it would be wise to invest in a solid backup for Bradley Beal, considering his injury history. Afflalo would certainly fit the billing, as long as he can get back somewhere close to how he performed in Denver and Orlando.
[NOTE: Afflalo has a $8 million player option for the 2016-17 season. If he choose to exercise the option, the Wizards could still explore using their cap space to acquire him in a trade.]
29. Derrick Williams (Age: 25, Position: PF)
Williams is coming off a banner year where he averaged career numbers shooting and scoring the ball. He’s still young (he turned 25 last summer) but it's probably safe to say he won’t take another leap unless he can finally become a reliable outside shooter. For his career, Williams has under 30 percent from beyond the arc and shot below his career averages behind the line this season.
Unless that changes over the summer, he is what he is at this point. He’s respectable on the glass, can get you some buckets and has a vertical aspect to his game that the Wizards lacked this season.
Like Afflalo, he posted some horrifying On/Off numbers with the Knicks this season, but unlike his teammate, Williams has consistently been a guy who hasn’t been able to translate individual success into something that benefits his team. The good hasn’t outweighed the bad (inefficient scoring, poor defense) to this point in his career.
Washington could certainly use what he brings to the table, but if they bring him on board, they better make sure they surround him with the right players to compensate for his deficiencies.
28. Jonas Jerebko (Age: 29, Position: PF)
If we had to guess, the Celtics will probably pick up Jerebko’s relatively cheap $5 million team option for next season, but if they don’t he’d be an interesting piece off the bench in Washington.
He struggled a bit in Boston during the regular season, but finished strong, averaging 9.2 points and 6.8 rebounds per game during the playoffs. He’s also shot at least 38 percent from deep over the past three seasons, although he isn’t a high-volume shooter from outside. He’s only averaged more than two attempts per game once in his career.
27. Joakim Noah (Age: 31, Position: C)
The Wizards haven't had much success recently with aging, oft-injured big men, but if there’s one guy out there to roll the dice on, it’s Joakim Noah. It would be foolish to expect to return to his 2014 Defensive Player of the Year form, but he could provide a nice jolt behind Marcin Gortat if he can return relatively healthy and rediscover his midrange jumper which abandoned him last season.
With how much the Wizards would need to pay to sign him and a competent third center as insurance, it probably won’t work out, but if he slips through the cracks in free agency, he could be worth the gamble.
26. Terrence Jones (Age: 24, Position: PF)
Jones really struggled this season, much like the rest of his Rockets teammates this season. He never found his rhythm and wound up on the outside of the rotation for most of the final two months of the season.
So why is he so high up on our list? For one, he should benefit from a new environment, and the form he showed in his second and third seasons was very promising. In 2014-15, as a 23-year-old, he averaged 11.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per in less than 27 minutes of action per game, while shooting 52.8 percent from the field and 35.1 percent from outside.
Defensively, he’s a tad undersized which can get him in trouble when he’s faced up against some of the taller 4’s in the league, but he isn’t a major liability on that end.
The thing that’s tricky with Terrence Jones is that he’s a restricted free agent, so the Rockets can match any offer sheet he signs. If he can reach the form he showed in his first three years, it would be hard to see them letting him walk for nothing, and if they do, that should say something about their confidence he can return to the player who helped the Rockets surge up the Western Conference standings.
Washington’s best chance of getting Jones on the rise is hoping Houston pulls off a big deal this summer that makes it hard to justify bringing him back.