The Washington Wizards stayed pretty quiet during the NBA free agency period. Other than trading their second-round pick for Tim Frazier, the Wizards only other additions were signing Jodie Meeks and Mike Scott to small deals. The moves give the Wizards a chance to improve their bench production, which was one of their glaring holes last season.
However, the team’s biggest issues last season came on the defensive end and they did absolutely nothing this offseason to fix the problem. They finished 20th in points allowed per 100 possessions. They were also 24th in the NBA in opponents field goal percentage, allowing their opponents to shoot 46.6 percent from the field and 20th in three point field goal percentage, allowing teams to shoot 36.4 percent from beyond the arc.
When you look back at a season after being eliminated from the playoffs, you really have to look at how to improve your weaknesses. Following free agency, the Wizards are just as bad on the defensive end as they were last year.
Tim Frazier was a great add for the Wizards, especially with the fact that they only traded a second round pick to get him, but guess what? He doesn't play great defense. Last season with the New Orleans Pelicans, the team was 3 points better per 100 possessions with him off the floor. Furthermore, he finished 62nd out of 78 point guards in Defensive Real Plus/Minus.
Jodie Meeks could provide great value as a shooter off the bench if he’s healthy, but he’s not going to change things on the defensive end. He’s undersized for his position and turns 30 later this month. Likewise, Scott is another one of those guys who excels on the offensive side of the ball and doesn’t have the physical profile to be a good defender. While he did show some improvement on that end last season, it’s hard to imagine him being a plus defender on the perimeter or in the paint.
The only “addition” who has the chance of turning things around this season is Ian Mahinmi. He helped on the defensive end, but it came in limited minutes during the second half of the season, so it’s hard to judge how sustainable that impact can be going forward as he gets older. Plus, as we learned earlier this week, he had to get another minor surgery on his knee, so it’s anyone’s guess if he will be able to make any kind of impact on that end this season.
At the end of the day, the Wizards were still the fourth best team in the Eastern Conference last season and were 48 minutes away from playing in the Eastern Conference Finals. But for as much as we talked about the team’s lack of depth, defense was also a serious issue. When it was at its best midway through the season, there was still room for improvement, and their struggles in the second half of the season showed just how ugly it can get.
Given that, and the way the Celtics added more offensive firepower this summer, it was surprising to see the Wizards not try to add more defensive talent this summer. They better hope they can get some defensive improvement from the players they already have - like Mahinmi and Kelly Oubre - or else this season will end just like the last one did.