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 took a look at Ryan Anderson. Now we continue our series with a look at the 7th ranked player on our list: DeMar DeRozan.
It can be assumed that DeMar DeRozan will exercise his player option and opt out of his contract to become a free agent this offseason. DeRozan is currently making $9.5M per year and will be looking to double (or even more) his salary. And he should. DeRozan is coming off of the best season of his career where he averaged career highs in points scored, assists, free throw shooting, and field goal shooting.
He was arguably the best player on the Raptors this season and helped carry the franchise to its first ever Conference Finals appearance. The arrow is clearly pointing up for DeRozan as he oozes potential and will be looking to cash in this free agency.
How DeRozan helps the Wizards
DeRozan averaged 23.5 points per game on 44.6 percent shooting this season making him the ninth highest scorer in the NBA. DeRozan is a volume shooter evidenced by his 17.7 shots per game. He likes operating with the ball in his hands, is able to create his own shot, and is somewhat of a mismatch as he's a bit taller (6'7") than your typical shooting guard.
A big part of DeRozan's game is getting to the free-throw line. This would help the Wizards immensely as they found themselves in the bottom-third of the NBA in free-throw attempts. DeRozan averaged 8.4 free throw attempts per game last season. Only James Harden and DeMarcus Cousins got to the charity stripe with more frequency. In addition, he knocks down his free-throws when he gets to the line (85 percent).
DeRozan's 8.4 free-throw attempts nearly doubled John Wall's 4.5 attempts as the Wizard who attempted the most free-throws this season. As we know, the Wizards blew many games this season due to poor free throw shooting so DeRozan would potentially fill that disappointing void immediately.
In addition, the Wizards were the third worst free-throw shooting team in the NBA (ahead of just the Kings and 76ers) who don't have a Hack-A-(Insert Poor Free-Throw Shooter) on their team. For as disappointing as this past season was, if the Wizards hit a few more free throws, they sneak into the playoffs this year.
In addition, 70.7 percent of DeRozan's baskets this season went unassisted. Saying that would take a burden off of Wall's shoulders would be an understatement. The combination of DeRozan's size to exploit mismatches, scoring, ability to get to the free-throw line and MAKE them, and not count on others to score; would make him a very valuable asset for this team.
Why DeRozan doesn't help the Wizards
For as great as DeRozan's scoring and ability to get to the line is, he's not very efficient. DeRozan was ranked dead last in field goal efficiency for all players who averaged 20+ points or more during the regular season. His efficiency isn't great however his ability to get to the free throw line masks this deficiency. This is bad news for John Wall and the rest of the Wizards players' as DeRozan needs the ball in his hands to create. As we've seen throughout the regular season and the playoffs, DeRozan is a ball stopper. He gets the ball in the post and often never passes out leaving his other four teammates standing around watching.
Even worse, when DeRozan dribbles the ball up to court, he's often known to isolate his man with other players never touching the ball on the possession. If the Wizards are going to continue to pace and space, they don't need another ball stopper.
This pickup wouldn't make sense unless the Wizards let Bradley Beal walk. If the Wizards were to sign both Beal and DeRozan, you guessed it, Otto Porter would likely be the odd man out as the Wizards would likely shift DeRozan over to the small forward position. Again, this would halt both Porter and Oubre's development, as they'd be demoted to backup and third string small forwards respectively for this team.
DeRozan is a great player and has elevated himself to All-Star status however it's unlikely that DeRozan will sign in D.C. this summer. Financially, the Wizards could make it happen but it would stunt the development of key players on this team and those assumed to be on this team. Wall has made it clear that he wants to play with another superstar. At this point, I don't see DeRozan fitting into the Wizards' scheme unless the front office were to let Beal walk this offseason.
Expect to see DeRozan re-sign in Toronto or head home and play for the Lakers.