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 Jordan Clarkson, Festus Ezeli, Mirza Teletovic, Luol Deng, and Marvin Williams. Now we continue our series with a look at players 15-11 on our list.
15. Evan Fournier (Age: 23, Position: SG/SF)
Fournier is more or less a poor man’s Bradley Beal. He has a little more size than Beal, but is a little less productive across the board, except when it comes to staying healthy and shooting at the free throw line. He’d be an awesome sixth man in Washington who could be a great insurance policy behind Beal and Porter and play the three in some small lineups with Wall, Beal, and Porter as well.
The Magic still have Victor Oladipo and Mario Hezonja, and they have big ambitions in free agency this summer, so there’s a chance they might let Fournier walk if Washington gives him the right offer sheet as a restricted free agent.
14. Courtney Lee (Age: 30, Position: SG/SF)
Generally, we tried to favor youth and upside in these rankings, but Lee over Fournier was one of the few exceptions we made. Lee’s a bit older, and not quite as good of a scoring option as Fournier, but his defense is much better and he’s proven he can be a useful contributor on a playoff team. In other words, he could be a much richer version of what the Wizards were trying to do with Alan Anderson last season.
In a vacuum, Fournier is the better talent but provides a lot of what the Wizards already have offensively. Lee is a slightly better fit to help address areas Washington needs to fix this summer.
13. Bismack Biyombo (Age: 23, Position: C)
If you think he is just benefiting from a breakout performance in the Eastern Conference Finals, you weren’t paying attention during the regular season. The only player who played over 1000 minutes blocked a higher percentage of opposing shots than Biyombo was Hassan Whiteside.
More importantly, Biyombo got better at blocking shots without sacrificing rebounding opportunities to do it. He posted career-best numbers on the glass, especially on the defensive end this season.
Offensively, he’s still a non-factor, and it’s hard to see that changing. But at least now he’s got his free throw percentage into the low sixties, which is good enough to keep teams from constantly hacking him to get him out of the game.
Also, even though he’s not much of a scorer, he showed he can be part of an effective offense. He was a part of Toronto's four best offensive lineups that played at least 100 minutes this season, and the lineup he played in with Kyle Lowry, Cory Joseph, DeMar DeRozan, and Patrick Patterson was the 11th best offensive lineup in the NBA this season.
12. Kent Bazemore (Age: 26, Position: SF/SG)
Kent Bazemore wasn’t going to be able to replace what DeMarre Carroll did for the Hawks, but he did a pretty solid job of providing what he could to keep the Hawks competitive this season, averaging 11.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game.
His numbers were up all across the board this season, but it wasn’t just because he played more minutes. If you go by his per 36 minutes or per 100 possessions numbers they still show that he took a big step forward this year.
That said, don’t fool yourself into thinking Bazemore is still a young prospect at this point. He’ll be 27 when free agency starts, so he probably won’t develop into much more than he already is at this point in his career. And as we saw in the playoffs against the Cavaliers, while he’s a respectable defender, he isn’t the ideal candidate to guard the bigger, elite wings in the NBA.
11. Jeremy Lin (Age: 27, Position: PG/SG)
Lin showed last season he can be really effective in a dual-point guard lineup with Kemba Walker. The combo had a +3.4 Net Rating together last season, in over 1000 minutes of playing time together, so there’s plenty of proof that it can work over a long period of time.
And if a Walker-Lin combo can work together, surely you could trot out an effective Wall-Lin combo at times in Washington. He can hurt you with the ball in his hands or without the ball in his hands, and he’s good at generating steals which would help ignite more fast breaks for the team if he was in Washington.
Plus, with Lin on board Washington would automatically ensure they have the best backup point guard they’ve ever had in the Wall era and one of the best backups in the NBA, just like Charlotte was able to claim last season.
He’s one of only nine guards in the NBA who averaged over 22 points, 6 rebounds, 5.5 assists, and shot at earned at least seven free throws per 100 possessions last season. Lin and Kemba Walker were the only ones who did not make the All-Star Game out of that group. Obviously, Lin would be an expensive way to supercharge the team’s depth at a position where they’re already very strong, but if you’re gonna go all in, he’d certainly make Washington’s backcourt a force to be reckoned with next season.