The Wizards that got away...

The recent 3pt Play article discussed how bad the Wizards’ draft record has been over the last decade. Well, the Wizards’ ineptitude for evaluating draft talent doesn’t end there. Not only are they bad at evaluating talent for the draft, they are also bad at evaluating the talent they already had the dumb luck to either draft or acquire. In the past decade, how many Wizards have gone on to greener pastures after years of mediocrity and neglect in DC? Let’s take a look.

Trevor Ariza

Wizards Tenure: 2012-2014

Ariza was one of the pioneers of the modern three and D role. After many years of average reserve play, he blossomed into a solid contributor in his second year with the Wizards. The Wizards did not have the wherewithal to understand what they had, and shipped him off to Houston for a trade exception and Melvin Ely. Ariza was lights out for the Rockets, a perfect complement for James Harden. Granted, Washington recognized Ariza’s value and signed him back for one more year in 2018-2019, but that’s like the equivalent of selling a stock low and rebuying later high.

Shaun Livingston

Wizards Tenure: 2009-2010, 2012-2013

Livingston was never going to be a superstar given his horrifying injury early in his career, but carved out a niche for himself in the league as a reliable reserve. The Wizards had two chances to keep him and let him walk both times. He went on to serve a valuable stabilizing role in the Warriors’ dynasty and is now a key executive in Golden State.

Kelly Oubre

Wizards Tenure: 2015-2018

Again, Oubre was and is never going to be a superstar or your first/second option. But, after averaging about 40% from the field during his Wizards tenure, he has consistently shot 45% from the field and is taking and making more three point shots. Another three and D wing that got away.

Bojan Bogdanovic

Wizards Tenure: 2016-2017

First, the Wizards traded the pick that would turn out to be Jarrett Allen to the Nets for Bogdanovic. If the story ended there, that’d be fine because both Allen and Bogdanovic are fine players. But then, they let Bogdanovic walk to the Pacers for absolutely nothing. And Bogdanovic is now a solid second option for the Jazz and Allen is an all-star. Two for the price of one folks.

Gary Payton, II

Wizards Tenure: 2018-2020

The Wizards had two opportunities over two years to evaluate Young Glove. The dude averaged over one steal and three rebounds a game in less than 15 minutes a night. He was the same player then as he is for the Warriors now. So shortsighted.

Bobby Portis

Wizards Tenure: 2018-2019

This one is a little more difficult, because the Knicks basically offered Portis a poison pill contract. Portis was a pleasant surprise since he was sent over as matching salary for Otto Pilot’s albatross of a contract, but it was disappointing how the Wizards couldn’t keep a sweet-shooting big man that plays hard every night. Portis and his current contract fit so well with the Bucks now.

Garrison Mathews

Wizards Tenure: 2019-2021

Garrison Mathews could have been our poor man’s Duncan Robinson. Lipscomb? Even the broken clock that is the Wizards’ scouting department is right twice a day. But, leave it to the indomitable Wizards to scrooge themselves and let Mathews walk to the Celtics for the league minimum, non-guaranteed! It’s hard to believe Washington couldn’t have made the same offer. The Celtics would make the same mistake as the Wizards though and later cut him, although he’s now found a home with the Rockets. Let’s not kid ourselves, Mathews is not an all-star, but he’s a lot more productive and impactful than the Wizards’ minimum bench jockeys.

Honorable Mention:

Javale McGee

Wizards Tenure: 2008-2012

I was tempted to include (in Shaq’s voice) Ja-vale Mc-Gee, but he didn’t get his stuff together until he got to the Warriors many years later.

I will give the latest Washington front office a modicum of credit. Although they have let solid talent get away in the past decade, they did learn from their predecessors’ massive mistakes and haven’t given away any franchise players (yet). The Bullets-Wizards dumpster fire of a front office in the late 90’s and early 00’s gave away Rasheed Wallace, Chris Webber, Ben Wallace, and Richard Hamilton, but mind-bogglingly kept Juwan Howard. Three of those guys formed 75% of the Pistons core that went to six consecutive conference finals and won it all in 2004...smh. I won’t discuss that debacle further since it is outside of the time scope of this article. Actually, it’s mostly because it’s depressing to think about the sheer idiocy it takes to allow that much talent to putz around and leave for nothing and/or inferior assets. You have to try to fail that hard. All those guys blossomed after the Wizards set them free from their tractor beam of mediocrity.

Who did I miss?

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