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.
Previously, we ranked Arron Afflalo, Derrick Williams, Jonas Jerebko, Joakim Noah and Terrence Jones. Now we continue our series with a look at players 25-21 on our list.
25. Donatas Motiejunas (Age: 25, Position: PF/C)
If you don’t know much about Motiejunas, it’s tempting to classify him as a stretch four, because he does have some outside touch. However, he’s more like Markieff Morris than Ryan Anderson, in that while he can shoot from deep, he’s never been great at it (last year he shot 28.1 percent from deep, over his career he’s only shot 30.8 percent).
Motiejunas is coming off a very bizarre season, as The Dream Shake chronicled. He missed a lot of time during the season thanks to offseason back surgery, then he was traded to Detroit at the deadline, but the deal was voided after he didn’t pass Detroit’s physical. After the trade, he began to reclaim some of his form from the 2014-15 season, but it was too late to salvage Houston’s lost season.
Obviously, Washington will want to do their due diligence on his back before entering any sort of a deal, but if he clears, he could be a great fit on the Wizards. Even when his shot isn’t falling, he’s a great inside scorer and a solid playmaker at the 4 or the 5.
24. J.R. Smith (Age: 30, Position: SG)
J.R. Smith has said in the past that part of the reason why he’s played better in Cleveland is because there’s nowhere to party. That alone probably takes Washington out of the running for Smith’s services. Still, it’s hard to put him any lower than this when you think about what someone who averaged 7.8 three-point attempts per game this season could do next to John Wall.
23. Dwight Powell (Age: 24, Position: PF/C)
Looking for a young big man who can play above the rim and finish well around the basket? Powell is your guy. Problem is, that’s the only thing he can do consistently and effectively on the offensive end as his shot chart attests:
On the bright side, Powell also was 10th among power forwards in Defensive RPM last season. Obviously you don’t want to rely on one stat to say someone is good or bad at defense, but that should at least give you an idea that you’re getting someone who will be dependable on that end.
As one of the few young players out there under the age of 25 who you might be able to snag with a competitive offer sheet, the Wizards should seriously consider making a strong run at Powell this summer. Even if he can’t develop into a more well-rounded player, it would be hard for the Wizards to find someone else like him out there, especially since they don’t have any draft picks.
22. Evan Turner (Age: 27, Position: SG/SF)
Turner has a three-point shot that not even the John Wall effect can fix. He’s shot just 26.2 percent from deep over the past two seasons. If you pair him with Wall for long stretches, it will do wonders for the other team’s defense.
At the same time, the Wizards do need someone who can take some of the playmaking burden off Wall, which he can certainly do (he averaged more assists per 36 minutes than Ramon Sessions last season).
He’s also been great at avoiding injury, which the Wizards could use on the wing, especially behind Bradley Beal. Turner has only missed three regular season games over the past four seasons.
If you can find a way to stagger their minutes correctly, Turner could do a lot of good in Washington. However, if Turner gets forced into the starting lineup due to injuries and has to play 25-30 minutes per game next to Wall, the Wizards will have to learn to win games ugly.
21. Eric Gordon (Age: 27, Position: SG)
Oh boy. There are plenty of reasons to avoid Gordon in free agency: His shooting has fallen off a bit from his peak days, his free throw rate is way down, and if he’s your main backup for Bradley Beal, you're committing to two guys who have combined to play two seasons in which they’ve played in at least 65 games.
For all those reasons, there’s a chance Gordon won’t get a big deal this summer, even though he averaged a solid 15.2 points per game last season in a suboptimal situation. If Washington can get him at a price where they can still afford to get some extra backcourt help behind him, he’s worth the gamble.