On Monday morning, Kevin Durant announced on a Players Tribune column that he will play for the Golden State Warriors. It ends a free agency race that lasted months, if not years, with many NBA teams hoping to get a chance to inquire about his services.
I am glad that the race for Durant, and the #KD2DC movement, has finally come to an end. I wish he would have stayed with the Thunder, but I’m just glad it’s over. Though we (kind of) knew about this before free agency started, we finally get closure. Now the Wizards and the fans a chance to focus on who we all should care most about: the players on the current team and what’s ahead.
The good news is that despite last season’s underwhelming 41-41 campaign, the future is still bright in Washington.
The Wizards still have one of the NBA’s best point guards in John Wall, who I believe is the cornerstone for the team, even if Durant decided to play here. Second, he and Bradley Beal still make up one of the NBA’s best backcourts. Wall will be 26 next season, and Beal just turned 23 last week. They have still yet to play the best basketball of their careers.
A great backcourt still needs a strong frontcourt with them — even in this era of “positionless basketball” that we are in. The Wizards will return all of their 2015-16 frontcourt starters next season in Otto Porter, Markieff Morris, and Marcin Gortat. Gortat is the only player in the starting lineup who is older than 30. I think most of us can agree that Washington’s starting five isn’t a pushover by any means.
If there is one area in the roster where the Wizards need more depth, it is the bench rotation. Garrett Temple and Jared Dudley may have left for greener pastures, but the Wizards got a little younger in the frontcourt by signing Ian Mahinmi and Andrew Nicholson. The backcourt is younger and deeper as well by acquiring Trey Burke and signing their 2012 second round draft pick Tomas Satoransky. And through it all, Washington still has Kelly Oubre, and the draft rights to Aaron White.
Of all the player signings and acquisitions, I actually am most excited about Scott Brooks and what he and his coaching staff bring to the table. Along with assistants like Anthony Brown, Chad Iske, and returning coach David Adkins, this coaching staff will be very strong on one key area: individual player development.
Though Adkins was on the Wizards for the last two years, the remaining coaches on Randy Wittman’s staff weren’t known for being strong on player development. In fact, a number of outside executives thought the staff was one of the weakest in the league. You can’t underestimate what a strong coaching coaching staff could do for an up and coming roster and the Wizards now have both.
Yes, I get that it’s an unknown as to whether the new signings and coach hirings pan out in Washington this season. But let’s face it. New additions are unknowns for everyone. Even Durant mentioned that “moving out of my comfort zone” is something that is part of the process of playing for another team.
And of course, the Wizards cannot afford to have another season or two of playing below expectations. But we aren’t quite at that point yet, so let’s focus on the good things going on right now.
If you’re disappointed that Kevin Durant isn’t playing for the Wizards, that’s fine. But don’t dwell on it — and don’t boo him when the Dubs come to town sometime next season. It’s not like most of us were really expecting him to play in Washington. And he even acknowledged that “Oklahoma City turly raised [him]” to become a man. I can’t disagree with him in that respect.
Besides, the Wizards still made a number of moves to improve the roster and the coaching staff around a young group of players who are still improving. Because of that, you can expect Washington to be competing for more than the 8th seed in the playoffs next season. Simply put, the Washington Wizards have a solid foundation in place and there’s still plenty to root for in the nation’s capital.