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Bullets Forever 3-Pt Play! How do the Wizards sort out their rotation?

Let’s chat about the rotation in Washington, which is still not truly set yet.

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Washington Wizards Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

We’re on to our next 3-Point Play topic - the rotation! (We thought about changing it to 4-pt play for this week).

Coach Wes Unseld Jr. has said that 11 players are playing by design. He went on to say “This game is about rhythm” & eventually he wants to dial the rotation to 9/9.5 but wouldn’t give a timetable for that change.

Well that all came to a head yesterday. As the Clippers tightened the rotation and switched their lineup, The Wizards stuck to their script and the Wizards blew a 30 point half-time lead to the Los Angeles Clippers in amazingly #soWizards fashion.

So we wanted to discuss, 1) how many players ideally play 2) who should be in/out, and 3) is a consolidation trade necessary?

John Heiser: 9.5 sounds right, 9 consistently and sometimes 10. 11-12 may have its place at certain times of the year or if there are too many unknown quantities but that isn’t the case for these Wizards.

Brad, Spencer, Kuzma, KCP, Gafford, Rui, Deni, and Trez should be playing. That’s eight. Bertans or Kispert makes 9. Neither has been consistently knocking down shots. Kispert seems to give you more off the ball but he’s still a rookie. This is no knock on Bryant as he’s making his comeback but time is short to showcase Trez. Thomas can keep working to get his wind back because I don’t anticipate Trez being here after the deadline passes. Every indication is that the team is willing to go into free agency with Bryant in hopes of retaining him.

A consolidation trade (or trades), the time is now. Without the storm of Omicron hardship signings we likely would have made one by now. Shepp said that evaluations had to be made when everyone was back playing. We’re at full strength now and it’s not looking good. The team has looked bored and checked out in earlier games. Then they get stomped by the Celtics in Wes Unseld Jr’s first game back on the sidelines after his own bout with COVID.

The team has the pieces for more than one deal. They can acquire Sabonis and still have assets left over for a mid-range deal to improve the back court. They are reportedly open to moving Dinwiddie as well. All signs point to using this deadline as a springboard for 2022. Acquiring a Sabonis level player improves them even if they wind up signing and trading Brad this offseason.

John Morrow: 11 players would be one thing but the team hasn’t been able to consistently cut down from 12 as we see Bertans & Neto getting spurts of playing time that they shouldn’t be getting. Getting down to 10 would be a good start.

In an ideal world, it is a 9 man rotation with the 9th man getting fewer minutes than the 6th and when the playoffs start, it is cut down to 8. The starting frontcourt with two players behind them, one to fill backup center minutes and one who can guard the biggest perimeter threat from the other frontcourt. Then, one guard to play behind the starting backcourt. The 9th man is the best remaining player.

Who should be in/out? Beal, Kuzma, KCP, Gafford, Dinwiddie, Rui, Deni, Kispert, Bryant OR Harrell.

Consolidation trades in-season are tough to form. But a trade of some sort absolutely needs to happen. Whether it is the big swing, or receiving something of value for pending free agents. One of Neto or Holiday, and one of Bryant or Harrell absolutely need to be moved. There is too much duplication from these guys with their strengths and weaknesses and the Wiz should be able to bring back at least some value from moving them. Clearly the crowd of forwards would still be a problem when it comes to the rotation so a logical move would be combining one of the backup PGs, one of the backup Cs, and one or two of Bertans/Kuzma/Rui/Deni/Kispert to consolidate into a big upgrade either at the 3 or 4.

Osman Baig: In my opinion a 9-man rotation is right but for the time being, let’s say 10 given the irritating but probably necessary 3-man rotation at center (until the trade deadline). I’d go with Beal, Dinwiddie, Caldwell-Pope, Kuzma, Gafford as the starters with a bench or Deni, Kispert, Rui, and along with Bryant and Harrell.

A trade is absolutely necessary. The Wizards are Imo oddly a team that needs more talent, while at the same time needing less of what they have. Our topic last week was Kyle Kuzma and while we mostly expected him to slow down, in his last two games with everyone healthy, he’s gotten 11 FGAs per game. No do I think Kuzma needs 17 FGAs per game on a good team - no - but I’d rather him get those shots than see more Caldwell-Pope long 2s/on-ball game.

Now that they have kind of squandered the 8-game home-stand and have a tough schedule ahead, I’d still consolidate but it might be time to aim for draft capital versus immediate help. Harrell and KCP in particular should have some value, even if it’s for 2nd round picks that they can use in subsequent deals potentially on draft night if they’re all in on #3. One player I’d at least call about is ex-Wizard Tomas Satoransky. He kind of fits that less is more role and formed an effective backcourt with Beal. The Beal/Sato backcourt in 2018 had an ORtg of 114. He’d be a less is more role player (defense, moving without the ball, etc...), the question would be is this just a down season for him with the Pelicans. Would the Pelicans, who are trying to make the play-in trade Satoransky and one or two 2nd round picks for Caldwell-Pope who has a reasonable team option?

*January 25th 10:00pm update

Well I can’t believe what I just saw. That loss (to the Clippers) was beyond embarrassing and highlighted this issue. Of the three centers to play yesterday, the two most effective ones in the game played less than the last effective.

If anything, this loss highlights the need for not US, but the ORGANIZATION to address this issue. But while we wait for that to occur, what do you think? Who’s in and who’s out of your rotation? Who is on the trade block?