Obviously, I'm still a little heartbroken the Wizards trading away Bradley (Real Deal) Beal.
I'm happy for the Springfield (Mo.) native finally getting a legitimate title shot with KD, Booker, and the Suns. It just seems like Beal earned to be the sorry Wizards' franchise career scoring leader. But the Tank was on once they traded for a broken down Chris Paul but then flipped the old man for Jordan Poole.
Now, Kyle Kuzma unexpectantly signing an extension made this season go from 10-15 wins tops to a legitimate chance at 20-30 wins. Still tanking and bottom third in the East but at least watchable.
I like KBrown's analysis on players except the Bilal man-crush. So I'll start with my take on players listed in order of who I'd like to keep long-term.
Players to keep
I've always liked Kuzma since watching him a lot with the Lakers out here in SoCal. Really, the only blemish on his resume is he was not a big part of the Lakers winning the asterisk bubble title. But for a late-round 1st round pick Kuzma has been very good. I call him Kuzma Klutch because he loves the moment. Kuzma, it seems, believes he is a top 10-15ish player in the league. And on any given night, he can show out like some of the very good SFs like Siakam, Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, and Brandon Ingram. Luka Doncic and Jayson Tatum are on different levels. My only knocks on Kuzma right now is really the 73-75 FT percentage. He ups that to around 80 percent and gets to shooting around 46-48 percent from the field and I can see 25 PPG this season.
Kispert is really developing into a very good role player. Kispert ranked 2nd last year in 3-point FG percentage among SFs in the entire league. Jeff Van Gundy once said all NBA starters rank top 15 in 1 aspect of the game. Kispert can have a career close to someone like Kyle Korver. And Kispert is a much better athlete playing some D and getting to the bucket sometimes. So I would build the next 2-3 seasons around Kispert and Kuzma.
This may be their PG of the future finally ever since John Wall broke down. Jones seems like a better version. I can't say I've watched a lot of Jones. But he seems pretty solid and pretty young.
I really like his defensive game and sometimes offense. I believe trading away KCP was a pretty big mistake. And KCP really helped Denver win a title last season while helping the Lakers win their lucky bubble title. Wright is like 30 years old but like Kuzma also went to Utah so maybe they have a rapport. Wright is not KCP but a keeper down the road.
On the fence to keep:
Deni is decent at almost everything and may be a plus defender. But I expected much more from a No. 9 pick. Tyrese Haliburton was my favorite player in the draft even though I knew Anthony Edwards would put up better numbers. Deni really has the length and sneaky athleticism to be an above average top 15 SF. But there is just something missing. I would expect the Wizards to dangle Deni in a trading deadline move to a contender.
The so Wizards have seen this type of player many times. Gilbert Arenas was probably the best version of this all offense no defense ballhog volume shooter. These types of players rarely win titles or even make their team get to 50 wins. But like Arenas, Poole rarely passes, plays Ole defense, and apparently pissed off Draymond Green (not hard to believe with Draymond being the dirtiest player by far in the league). But something really set him off. But Poole is going to put up 25 PPG easily and possibly 28 PPG. But he will have a lot of turnovers, no passing, and just getting buckets. So it will be fun to watch but contribute to winning?
Gafford was really a trade steal when acquired from the Bulls for Mo Wagner I believe. Great move from the old GM Sheppard (who actually made some good trades acquiring Kuzma, KCP, and Gafford for peanuts). The Arkansas product is pretty fun to watch with his energy and stickback dunks. If he could just hit like a 10-15 foot jumper a little, he could average close to 13-15 PPG. In the East, a great offensive Center is not really needed with Giannis, Embiid, and even Porzingis being the best Bigs. So a cheap player like Gafford is fine to at least maybe slow those guys down a little with his defense. I would move Deni before Gafford.
Yes, I called him a baby. That is what he is at least physically. The Draft I thought said he was like 6-8 with potential to grow to be like 6-10. But they list him at 6-6 so I guess he can magically morph into 6-8. Dennis Rodman was 5-10 at his high school graduation and grew to be 6-8 so it can happen. Bilal seems like a HUGE project at least offensively. He may already be a plus defender with his length and wiry frame so he will get some steals. So there is potential to become a solid starting role player on a championship team.
Muscala can play especially with his shooting. He is 32 but probably has 3-4 more good role playing years left. I would dangle Deni and Muscala in trading deadline deals to a contender. He could play a role on a championship team.
So that is like 9 players who should see the bulk of the minutes.
I will talk about most of the rest briefly.
RYAN ROLLINS - I've seen his brief highlights with the Warriors. He looks like he can play if given like 10-15 MPG. He is 6-4 so pretty good size. There is potential at just age 21.
DANILO GALINARI - Dano the Italian has had a sneaky very good career. Danilo is borderline great some nights on offense. But he is 35 on the twilight of his career. They just waived Taj Gibson so I guess Muscala and Galinari are really there more as veteran player coaches at this point for the young players. Galinari probably gets dumped at the trading deadline or released some time. He is actually maybe the best aged 35 bench player in the league. So I guess some contender may take a flyer.
JOHNNY DAVIS - This is obviously a huge whiff from Sheppard. Not sure Davis is really an NBA level player right now. I was fooled with his almost 20 PPG and good rebounding at Wisconsin in his sophomore season. So Davis probably makes a decent career somewhere other than Washington once he figures it out after age 25 or so.
ANTHONY GILL - Gill always seems to play well in short spurts when he actually plays. So I'm not sure why he does not get more PT. The UVA product is probably on the roster like Muscala and Galinari for veteran big man backup play. He seems hurt right now.
LANDRY SHAMET - Meh just meh just meh. I remember Shamet being a decent player with the Knicks. But that was like a gazillion years ago. I'm not sure what Shamet does well except maybe shoot. Not sure if he is even in the league the next 2-3 seasons.
PATRICK BALDWIN and XAVIER COOKS - I lumped these 2 together. I pride myself and seeing most NBA players. But I honestly do not know much of anything about these 2 in real NBA games outside of preseason, mop up duty, and summer league. Baldwin seems OK I guess. Cooks seems like his NBA talent is being 7-0 so probably a towel waiver most of his career right now.
SEASON PREDICTION - 30-52 (overly optimistic)
Most pundits have the Wizards at around 24-25 wins and finish bottom 5 in the league. I don't care about actual wins. But I think anywhere between 28-30 wins is doable if Kuzma and Poole get supernova hot against some better team to steal a win or 2. But finishing over 30 wins would be a borderline miracle. But I'll be positive and say they get to 30 wins so 30-52.
Not sold on Coach Wes Unseld Jr. just yet. He seemed like a Nepo hire a little with his daddy Wes helping out his resume. He may be the best the Wizards can attract right now. But getting better players may dictate a more established good coach.
We will see. Go Wizards! Tank on.