Bradley Beal was the first domino to fall for the Washington Wizards when he was traded to the Phoenix Suns. After over a decade of mediocrity, Washington is finally entering a rebuild, and their supermaxed franchise guard was the first piece out the door. Almost nobody on the roster is safe, so expect a serious shake-up over the next two months.
With the Wizards set to field an uncompetitive — or “developmental,” to put it nicely — roster for the foreseeable future, it is my firm belief that they should take a flyer on one of the league’s more disappointing young players. There is little to lose by cheaply taking a chance on former highly-regarded prospects.
Note: Jordan Poole was the first player I had listed in this article before he was traded to the Wizards.
ESPN Sources: The Washington Wizards are finalizing a deal to send Chris Paul to the Golden State Warriors for a package that includes Jordan Poole and future draft assets. pic.twitter.com/kpNkhqFicp— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 22, 2023
1. Jonathan Kuminga
Jonathan Kuminga was the seventh overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, but he has yet to contribute at a high level to the championship-contending Golden State Warriors. He was one of the focal points of the Warriors’ attempt to compete and rebuild simultaneously, but he and his youthful compatriots have mostly sat and watched as Stephen Curry and company have continued to compete.
Kuminga has been quite efficient in his limited playing time with the Warriors, but he has reportedly been dissatisfied with his lack of opportunity in Golden State. The price for Kuminga may be too high for the Wizards to stomach, but it would be a mistake not to make a call.
2. Ben Simmons
Hear me out.
Ben Simmons is 26 years old and already a three-time All-Star, an All-NBA team member and a two-time All-Defensive team member. He has proven that he can be a very good player.
Something changed during his pitiful playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks in 2021. Simmons played one of the worst individual playoff series in NBA history, and the resulting scrutiny he faced completely shot his confidence.
Since that series over two years ago, Simmons has played in just 42 NBA games. Last season, he averaged career-worst stats across the board and looked like a shell of the pre-Hawks series Simmons.
So why should the Wizards consider acquiring him? Simmons is making up to $40 million per season for the next two seasons, and the Brooklyn Nets would certainly attach a collection of assets to Simmons’ contract just to move on from him. By taking on Simmons’ huge salary, the Wizards could potentially add even more future picks to their growing collection. Additionally, keeping Simmons on the roster would give the Wizards the unique opportunity to try and work a still-young former All-Star back into form.
I’m not saying the Wizards should do this, but I do think it’s an interesting proposition to consider.
3/4. James Wiseman/Marvin Bagley
The Detroit Pistons have a logjam in their frontcourt. They took on two former No. 2 overall picks that didn’t work out — James Wiseman and Marvin Bagley — to try and salvage their careers. However, they also drafted Jalen Duren and Isaiah Stewart, two promising frontcourt players who Detroit appears to prefer over Wiseman and Bagley.
Wiseman and Bagley are 22 and 24 years old, respectively, and either could certainly be acquired cheaply. With Kuzma likely gone and Porzingis already gone, the Wizards are in dire need of size, and I think they should target one of Wiseman or Bagley to size up and allow them to flourish.
Do you think the Wizards should take a chance on any of these young former top picks? Who else should they target?