The Washington Wizards made the kind of trade that’s become familiar, sending former first round pick Rui Hachimura to the Los Angeles Lakers for Kendrick Nunn and three second-round picks — two of which convey in 2028 and 2029.
Here’s what the Wizards have done with their first round picks since selecting Otto Porter Jr. with the third overall selection in 2013:
- 2014 — traded for Marcin Gortat
- 2015 — traded (in the form of Kelly Oubre Jr.) for Trevor Ariza
- 2016 — traded for Markieff Morris
- 2017 — traded for Bojan Bogdanovic (and to dump the multi-year contract of Andrew Nicholson, who they had signed in free agency that offseason)
- 2018 — traded (in the form of Troy Brown Jr.) for Daniel Gafford
- 2019 — traded (in the form of Rui Hachimura — 74 PPA — in PPA, average is 100 and higher is better) for Nunn and three second round picks
- 2020 — Deni Avdija (69 PPA in his third season)
- 2021 — Corey Kispert (92 PPA in his second season)
- 2022 — Johnny Davis (-44 PPA in 50 NBA minutes; 45 PPA in the G League)
B) This franchise needs a ground up rebuild of its draft selection process. Just one hit over the past few years (say Tyrese Haliburton instead of Avdija) and the franchise’s future looks radically brighter.
C) This franchise needs to take a hard look at its process for helping players improve. Whatever they’re doing doesn’t seem to be working.
The team will catch deserved flack for its player development, but I don’t think the players should be left blameless. There’s a role for coaching, teaching and mentoring. There’s also nothing stopping players who want to improve from getting into the gym and working. They have time, money and access to the best facilities and best coaches on the planet.
As for the team’s approach to player development, the first step is addressing how they draft. The most important aspect of development is selection.
Back to the trade, it’s a good move for the Lakers. Nunn is having a terrible season and may be finished as a productive NBA player after serious injury troubles. In exchange for those second round picks, they’re getting an athletic forward with size and strength who’s young enough to imagine he could somehow be better in the future than he has been through his first three-and-a-half seasons.
It’s a reasonable low-cost bet, and Los Angeles kept its first rounders, which they can use in other deals.
For Hachimura, this is a spectacular opportunity. The Lakers need a forward and a bigger body. He should step in as a starter and remain there the rest of the season, and possibly beyond. Lebron James and Anthony Davis will be the best teammates he’s ever played with by a wide margin. Plus, he may get the opportunity to play with Russell Westbrook again. The two had an affinity for each other when they were together in Washington.
One caveat: Hachimura’s production actually dipped when Westbrook was with the team. Reuniting doesn’t necessarily mean Hachimura will abruptly improve.
For the Wizards, the trade represents yet another failed first round pick. They drafted him with hopes he’d become an important part of the franchise for the next decade. Now they’ve dumped him for an expiring contract and some picks.
On the court, despite all the propaganda about how consistent and valuable his scoring has been off the bench, the trade is basically meaningless. That’s because in real life, he was inconsistent, and with the exception of a few magnificent outburst games, he was inefficient.
The truth is, Hachimura didn’t improve much during his time with the Wizards. While there’s some pain in giving up on a player, the team wasn’t satisfied with his performance, he wanted out, and it was time to forget about his draft position and move on.
Here’s a look at his performance EKG for this season.
Here’s what the colors mean:
- Silver — full season PPA after each game
- Red — five-game rolling PPA
- Blue — 10-game rolling PPA
- Cherry Blossom Pink — 20-game rolling PPA
This season, he had three games where he statistically resembled an All-NBA player, six times he looked like an All-Star, 11 times he rated at or below replacement level, and six times his production was a net negative. In his 30 games this season, his performance rated below average, according to my PPA metric, 18 times (60%).
For more on the trade, check out the latest episode of the #SoWizards podcast with me and Ron Oakes-Cunningham. Or listen below:
Wizards Season Status Check
When I last did one of these check-ins, the Wizards were 11-18 and deep into a losing skid. Since then, they’ve gone 9-8 to reach 20-26 on the season, and they should be able to continue improving their record over the next nine games.
Here’s where the Wizards stand in measures of team strength in the last update and where they stand now:
- Strength of schedule adjusted scoring margin: 19th/19th
- Offensive rating (points scored per 100 possessions:) 21st/26th
- Defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions): 13th/7th
Here’s where they stood/stand in the four factors that determine winning and losing:
Four Factors Offense
- Shooting: 13th/20th
- Turnovers: 13th/13th
- Offensive rebounding: 22nd/22nd
- Drawing fouls: 20th/26th
Four Factors Defense
- Shooting: 5th/2nd
- Turnovers: 28th/30th
- Defensive rebounding: 11th/6th
- Fouling: 8th/6th
Before I get to the full Wizards PPA update below, here’s a look at the top-rated producers by position and where the top Wizard ranks (minimum 500 minutes played). In PPA, 100 is average and higher is better:
- Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks — 226
- Tyrese Haliburton, Indiana Pacers — 225
- Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors — 224
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City Thunder — 204
- James Harden, Philadelphia 76ers — 199
17. Monte Morris, Washington Wizards — 137
- Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers — 196
- Devon Booker, Phoenix Suns — 171
- Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards — 169
- Desmond Bane, Memphis Grizzlies — 165
- Dejounte Murray, Atlanta Hawks — 146
- Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat — 240
- Lauri Markkanen, Utah Jazz — 209
- Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers — 197
- DeMar DeRozan, Chicago Bulls — 159
- Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers — 157
39. Deni Avdija, Washington Wizards — 69
- Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets — 217
- Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics — 204
- Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans — 201
- Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis Grizzlies — 199
- Lebron James, Los Angeles Lakers — 195
29. Kyle Kuzma, Washington Wizards — 104
- Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets — 242
- Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers — 220
- Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers — 193
- Clint Capela, Atlanta Hawks — 176
- Domantas Sabonis, Sacramento Kings — 168
17. Kristaps Porzingis, Washington Wizards — 136
Player Production Average
Below is a look at individual performances using my Player Production Average metric. PPA credits players for things they do that help a team win (scoring, rebounding, play-making, defending) and dings them for things that hurt (missed shots, turnovers, bad defense, fouls). PPA is pace neutral, accounts for defense, and includes a “degree of difficulty” factor. There’s also an accounting for role/position. In PPA, 100 is average, higher is better, and replacement level is 45. It usually takes a score of 225 or higher to be part of the MVP conversation.
Wizards PPA through 46 games
|Vernon Carey Jr.||C||7||2.1||-241||17|