In part two of a two part series, we’re going to create a starting five of ‘What If’ players. As in, what guys had the most potential and the front office took a risk on them, but they just never panned out in Washington?
As a refresher, the rules here are pretty simple: the player must have played at least one full season in Washington. Second, the player will be grouped by era based on their level of impact in that era. For example, JaVale McGee played with both Gilbert Arenas and John Wall, however, when playing with Wall, it was clear that he was playing on borrowed time and would shortly be gone.
Now, let’s jump into the John Wall era.
Washington acquired Jordan Crawford midway through his rookie year via a trade with Atlanta. If you remember, Crawford was thrown into the deal that involved Maurice Evans, and Mike Bibby in exchange for Kirk Hinrich and Hilton Armstrong.
One thing was clear when Crawford arrived in Washington - the dude could score. The rookie had a knack for getting buckets evidenced as he averaged 16.3 points in 26 games as a rookie in Washington including notching a triple-double to his resume.
There was optimism in the air in Washington after the 2010-11 NBA season. The Wizards already had their franchise point guard in John Wall and looked like they may have lucked into landing their shooting guard of the future in Crawford. It was clear that the Wizards had grand plans for Crawford. To the extent that it was only he and John Wall who the front office chose to put on a fashion show of sorts as the Wizards transitioned into their red, white, and blue jerseys.
Even with Crawford’s numbers dipping a bit, he still had a nice sophomore season in Washington as he averaged 14.7 points on 40 percent shooting that year. Unfortunately for Crawford, things started to fall apart for him during the 2012 season. It was clear to everyone inside and outside of the Wizards organization that John Wall was the centerpiece for the franchise. Meanwhile, Crawford was still looking to put numbers up, regardless if it meant wins or losses for the team. The third year guard was prone to putting up bad shots and playing too much iso ball. Worried that he might be stunting the growth of Wall, Crawford saw his minutes decrease and his role with the team diminish.
Crawford was eventually traded to Boston midway through his third year as he had fallen out of the rotation and made it very clear that he was becoming displeased with his role on the team.
The Wizards signed Webster in the summer of 2012 as they envisioned his role as a three-point specialist running alongside John Wall. And the way his first season went in Washington, it looked like the Wizards found their sharpshooter.
Webster had a very nice first year in Washington during the 2012-13 NBA season as he scored 11.4 points on 44 percent shooting including knocking down 42 percent of his three-point attempts. Webster was quickly becoming the player the Wizards had hoped for not to mention, he was damn near automatic on three-pointers from the corner.
The sharpshooter’s numbers dipped a little bit but were nearly identical during the 2013-2014 season than they were from the season before. After appearing in just six playoff games during his tenure in Portland, he’d get another taste of the postseason. The Wizards 2014 postseason run was a ton of fun to watch if you were a Wizards fan but Webster struggled. His numbers slipped across the board with his three-point shooting dipping to just 23 percent that postseason and he didn’t really have much of an impact when he was on the floor.
With the Wizards coming off an exciting playoff run where they upset the Bulls in five games, there was suddenly a bunch of optimism in Washington and Webster was thought to be a big part of it. That optimism was short-lived for Webster as he suffered a season-ending back injury after appearing in just 32 games the next year. After the 2014-2015 season, Webster decided to hang it up so he could pursue other interests off the court.
Jan Vesely aka the “Czech Blake Griffin” came into the league with the reputation of being a high flyer. The Wizards had just drafted John Wall a year before and Washington took a chance on Vesely thinking he’d be a dominant force if he could just run the floor and catch lobs from John Wall.
Vesely averaged just 4.7 points and 4.4 rebounds per game his rookie year. Not terrible for a guy learning the ropes of the NBA but not ideal considering the Wizards used their 6th overall draft pick on him in 2011.
Vesely’s rookie season turned out to be his best as a pro. His game wasn’t progressing at all and the Wizards had seen enough of him and midway through his third season in Washington so they pulled the plug on him and shipped him off to Denver.
Not only was Vesely an NBA Draft bust, but to pour salt in the fanbase’s wounds, the 2011 draft was one for the history books.
Singleton came to Washington as the ultimate ‘Swiss Army Knife, can do it all prospect’ of the John Wall era. Singleton’s size mixed with his athleticism made him a unique prospect who could play both the small forward and power forward positions - something that was a big deal in 2011.
Singleton was thrown into the mix immediately appearing in 66 games his rookie year and started 51 of them. It was an awkward time for Singleton as he was clearly a piece for the future era but was still dealing with shadow of the Gilbert Arenas era and nearly everyone involved. Singleton averaged just 4.6 points and 3.5 rebounds his rookie year in what would turn out to be his best professional season.
Just prior to the start of his third NBA season, Singleton fractured his foot forcing him to miss significant time. Singleton appeared in just 25 games during the 2013-2014 season and that would be it as his NBA career would come to an abrupt end after just three short seasons.
The Wizards drafted Chris Singleton 18th overall in the 2011 draft hoping that he would be a front-court piece for years to come. Unfortunately for the Wizards and Singleton, his career was cut short without him making any real impact for Washington.
Seraphin landed in Washington via a draft day trade with the Chicago Bulls in 2010. Seraphin was a bit of a tweener, standing at 6’9”, he could play both the power forward and center positions. Seraphin fit the bill of other European players that the Wizards had taken chances on for one main reason - when he came into the league, he had upside but was still very raw.
From day one, Seraphin was a bully in the painted area. He was still learning the ropes on both ends of the floor but had no issues throwing his weight around on the defensive end and battling for rebounds. On the offensive end, it was a different story. The big man could finish around the rim but outside of that, never developed any sort of jump shot outside of a not so infamous hook shot that he’d resort to - and it wasn’t very effective.
Seraphin turned in his best season as a Wizard (and of his career) in 2012-2013. The Washington Wizards traded for Nene the prior year allowing Serpahin to shift over to the center spot. Playing alongside the veteran Nene, Seraphin averaged 9.1 points and 4.4 rebounds that year.
Just when it looked like Seraphin might be turning the corner as a pro, things got murky. The Wizards traded for center Marcin Gortat just prior to the 2013-2014 season which irked the Frenchman as he was now the clear backup center.
Seraphin was unhappy with his new role as his minutes started to diminish and his play took a major hit as a result. Seraphin finished out his contract in Washington but when he became a free agent in the Summer of 2015, he immediately looked elsewhere ending his time with the Wizards.
House played one minute during his tenure in Washington - one (hence he’s ineligible to be in the ‘starting five’).
House went undrafted in 2016 but the Wizards took a flyer on him inviting him to play for their Summer League team in Las Vegas that year. House made such a good impression over the summer that the Wizards signed him to the roster right before the start of the 2016-2017 season.
House was a back of the bench guy and suffered a broken wrist in a November practice that year. He never appeared in a Wizards uniform again.
After bouncing back and forth between the D-League and the Phoenix Suns, House finally found a home in Houston. In just 1.5 seasons, House as shown that he can be a rotational player in this league. It isn’t so much that House was a bust when he was on the Wizards - he wasn’t as he was an undrafted rookie who was injured. It’s more the principle that the Wizards had this guy in their facility but it was during a time when they didn’t have a D-League (now G-League) affiliate so they were unable to groom him for a role with the Wizards.