For the most part, the Washington Wizards were able to retain all of their key free agents this off-season, meaning that their roster will look pretty similar this upcoming season to the one they had this past season.
Here’s what their depth chart should look like prior to the start of training camp. First up, the guards.
This upcoming season will arguably be the most important season in John Wall’s career, since it will be the first time the Washington Wizards will be entering the season with higher expectations than they had in the season prior.
Washington beat the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the NBA Playoffs before getting bounced out by the Indiana Pacers in the semi-finals, but they couldn’t have experienced success in the post-season without the growth of John Wall.
John Wall averaged a career high 19.3 points, 8.8 assists while shooting over 35% from three this past season, earning him a spot on the NBA All-Star team, so it should be interesting to see how much he grows from a rather successful season. Even though he did grow tremendously last season, the Washington Wizards will only go as far as John Wall and Beal could take them, so their improvement individually is obviously important.
The Washington Wizards signed Eric Maynor to the bi-annual exception last year, thinking he’d become the team’s primary backup point guard, but it quickly became apparent that he wasn’t a fit in Randy Wittman’s system early in the season, which pretty much derailed the entire bench’s production.
Garrett Temple eventually became the team’s backup point guard, and even though he performed better than Maynor, he’s better suited to play shooting guard and didn’t provide much relief for the team offensively.
The Washington Wizards ended up trading Jan Vesely and Eric Maynor in a three team deal on the NBA Trade Deadline, which landed them Andre Miller from the Denver Nuggets.
Andre Miller and Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw had a falling out and a trade became inevitable, and the Wizards were apparently high on the list of possible destinations for Professor Miller.
Andre Miller didn’t put up spectacular stats, but the difference between him and the rest of Washington’s backup guards was night and day. Miller gave the Washington Wizards another player who’s capable of creating offense, something the bench desperately needed, but more importantly, he gave the Wizards another leader.
Miller played for Washington Wizards head coach Randy Wittman in Cleveland during the 1999-2001 NBA seasons, so the transition was virtually seamless. Andre Miller isn’t as good defensively as he once was, but I expect him to remain the team’s backup point guard for next season. Washington picked up the player option on his contract for about $4.6 million and the team should improve with a full season of the Professor.
The Washington Wizards also re-signed Garrett Temple to a two-year deal this summer and he’ll likely be the third string point guard. He’s capable of producing on the court, but much like some other veteran players in the league, he’s probably more valuable for his leadership and professionalism in the locker room. Temple is also capable of playing the shooting guard position and it wouldn’t surprise me if he ends up playing some backup minutes behind Bradley Beal.
1) Bradley Beal
2) Glen Rice Jr.
Last season the Washington Wizards didn’t get much help from their guards off the bench, which forced coach Wittman to play Bradley Beal much more than he probably should’ve at times.
Beal averaged over 17 points, 3 assists and nearly 4 rebounds per game last season and I expect him to have an even better season this upcoming year. Now that he has two full NBA seasons under his belt, Bradley Beal could potentially have a breakout year, especially after getting some much needed experience in the playoffs against two of the best defensive teams in the NBA.
Washington didn’t do much to address their lack of depth at the shooting guard position, but unlike some people, I expect Glen Rice Jr. to make an impact behind Bradley Beal.
Again, Garrett Temple might end up playing some backup shooting guard behind Beal, but after seeing him perform in the NBA Summer League, I think it’s Rice’s spot to lose.
Glen Rice Jr. averaged 25 points and nearly 8 rebounds per game in Las Vegas, taking home the Summer League MVP award, but more importantly, he played under control and showed that he’s capable of contributing in Wittman’s system.
Unlike some players that are capable of putting up big numbers, Rice played very efficient basketball and was effective defensively. Rice played really well in stints with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers last season and his off-season work seems to have payed off.
The Washington Wizards could use another scorer off the bench and I think Glen Rice Jr. is ready to become a part of the rotation.
(H/T to All U Can Heat, FanSided’s Miami Heat site, for the idea. We’ll continue on with the Washington Wizards’ big men tomorrow.)