John Wall joined Kevin Calabro and Steve Smith during Sunday’s broadcast of the Wizards-Hawks Summer League game to talk about several topics, including his recovery from surgery, what Scott Brooks expects from him, Kevin Durant’s choice to join the Warriors (as shared by JW2BB3 in the comments):
The most interesting part of the interview came at the one minute mark when Wall talks about where the Wizards can improve this season:
I told the guys, I don’t care about individual accolades, I care about making the playoffs and giving it a run. You never know what can happen, injuries can happen or you can just have a hot run. You saw what happened with the Cavs, they went to Golden State down 3-1 and those guys just found a rhythm and won it.
You just try to get better. I think we added some great pieces, I still think we need one more piece. I hope we can get it, but if not, we just gotta go out there and do what we do with the pieces we have.
Steve Smith followed up by asking Wall which position the Wizards still need to improve, and he said the following:
I think in the Eastern Conference you need three or four 3 men in order to defend LeBron. I know you’re not going to be able to stop him, but just a lot of different bodies just try to wear him down, and then if you get in foul trouble you have multiple guys that can guard him. That’s what you really need to go against him and compete.
Wall is spot-on in his assessment of how to slow down LeBron. When you look at the teams that have been able to take him down in the playoffs, they’ve all had a number of wing players who could come in and chip away at his effectiveness.
As it stands, the Wizards don’t quite have that depth. The Wizards only have two players who players who can even remotely challenge LeBron on the defensive end: Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre, and neither has the strength or experience to be trusted against him for long stretches.
The problem is, the Wizards don’t have many roster spots left, and they don’t have any cap space to make a big upgrade on that front. Washington’s only options are to use the Room Exception, which they can use to sign someone for up to $2.9 million per year for two years, or they can sign someone to a minimum contract.
Alan Anderson appears to be the leading candidate to fill one of those two spots. He’s reportedly meeting with the team in Las Vegas during Summer League, according to J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic. If Anderson can return to the form he showed with the Nets, he could certainly help address the team’s wing depth, but it’s no safe bet considering he’s coming off two ankle surgeries and turns 34 before the start of next season.
All of this brings back into question why the Wizards decided to spend so much of their cap space this summer on big men. Yes, the Wizards have to think ahead and consider that the team will likely sign Otto Porter to a big new deal this summer, and they expect Oubre to grow, which makes it hard to justify spending a lot at that position, but had they spent a little less on someone like Jason Smith, who probably won’t factor much into the team’s rotation when everyone’s healthy, they could have spent more on a wing that would alleviate some of the concerns Wall has at the moment.