Last month, Adam Silver talked with C.J. McCollum on the Players Tribune about the idea of NBA expansion in the coming years, and based on their conversation, it got SB Nation NBA thinking about what expansion would look like.
As part of the discussion, we set up an expansion draft where the two new expansion teams could select from a pool of players around the league, keeping in mind the expansion team would also inherit the contract of the drafted players. Each team was allowed to protect eight players from the expansion draft.
After some thought and consideration, here were the eight I settled on:
- John Wall
- Bradley Beal
- Otto Porter
- Markieff Morris
- Marcin Gortat
- Kelly Oubre
- Tim Frazier
- Mike Scott
Why these eight were protected
The starters and Kelly Oubre - These were all easy choices. Even if you’re enticed by the idea of unloading Gortat’s salary, it’s probably not the best idea to expose him in an expansion draft because it would just mean that you’re protecting someone else who is much less deserving. Besides, unloading doesn’t really do anything for the Wizards other than slightly increasing how much of their mid-level exception they could use next season.
Tim Frazier and Mike Scott - Ultimately, I decided to protect the two players who I felt were the most likely candidates to actually get selected in the draft. While you could argue Smith is the better overall player, and players like Tomas Satoransky and Sheldon Mac might offer more potential, Frazier and Scott offer the best mix of skill and cost-effectiveness. They’re the kind of cheap, established filler an expansion team would probably be drawn to establish some semblance of competitiveness in their opening year.
Why the other seven were not protected
Ian Mahinmi - Even though Mahinmi is probably a better player than Frazier or Scott, you have to expose him because of what’s left on his contract. Though he had his moments last season, he still wasn’t living up deal, even when he was health. The opportunity to unload him through the expansion draft, as unlikely as it may be, is too hard to pass up here.
Jason Smith - Smith is probably a better overall player Scott, but if given the choice, I think more teams would Scott on his deal than Smith on his. With that said, Washington would probably just be better off leaving Smith exposed, since he would be less likely to get drafted.
Tomas Satoransky - Satoransky is the kind of prospect the Wizards would be trying to protect in an ideal world. He’s was drafted by the team and he still has two years left on his deal before he hits restricted free agency. Could he still develop into something useful? Sure, but at this point, the Wizards can’t afford to be wasting protected spots on players who may not factor into the rotation this season or next season.
Jodie Meeks - There’s a chance Meeks could be very useful for the Wizards, and it would be a shame if they lost him before he played a game in Washington. However, given how money for shooting guard dried up fairly quickly this summer, it’s also fair to say the Wizards probably jumped the gun and could have gotten him or someone comparable at a cheaper price this summer. With that in mind, the Wizards would be better off letting him be available. Odds are, he wouldn’t get claimed, but if he did, it might help the Wizards avoid an unfavorable deal, albeit a small one.
Sheldon Mac, Daniel Ochefu, and Chris McCullough - We’ve talked a lot about the Wizards’ need to develop more young talent, but there would be nothing wrong with leaving these guys exposed in an expansion draft. It’s hard to see any of them actually getting selected, but if they were, it wouldn’t be difficult to find someone on G-League who could provide comparable production.
UPDATE: None of the unprotected Wizards in the mock expansion draft were selected. You can check out the full results from the mock draft here.