Despite losing Trevor Ariza this off-season, the Washington Wizards have managed to keep continuity by bringing back almost all of their contributing players from their playoff run. It’s virtually impossible to retain all of the players from the prior season, but it was clear that team president Ernie Grunfeld and coach Randy Wittman were keen on re-signing the likes of Marcin Gortat, Andre Miller and Drew Gooden, while also adding a few pieces that could potentially replace the losses of Ariza and Trevor Booker.
By signing Paul Pierce, Kris Humphries and DeJuan Blair, the Washington Wizards have replaced their losses this summer, but they still have a few question marks surrounding their team heading into this upcoming season. Acquiring Humphries and Blair will give the Washington Wizards more depth in the front court, but they still don’t have much depth at the wing positions even though that wasn’t an issue for them this past season.
Pierce will start for the Washington Wizards this upcoming season, but with Martell Webster out at least 3-5 months, Wittman will have to rely on Otto Porter for the majority of backup minutes at the small forward position. Now, I’m not saying that Porter won’t contribute, because he showed during the NBA Summer League that his skill set could translate into Wittman’s system, but he’s still going to have some growing pains while adjusting to the NBA game.
Porter, who was picked third in last year’s NBA Draft by the Wizards, averaged nearly 19 points and 6 rebounds per game in Las Vegas this summer. His ability to defend, move without the ball and hit the outside shot will replace some of what the Wizards lost with the departure of Ariza, but he’s still not capable of defending the best player on the opposing team every night like Ariza and he’ll need time to adjust after not playing for the majority of the season this past year.
Glen Rice Jr. also had a spectacular NBA summer league run, taking home the MVP award after averaging nearly 25 points, 2 assists, 8 rebounds and 2 steals per game. We all knew that Glen Rice Jr. could score, especially since he showed that during stints with the Iowa Energy this past season, but I don’t think any of us expected him to play at such a high level.
Rice spent time in the D-League last season, but now that the Washington Wizards could use more depth at both the shooting guard and small forward positions, I think we’ll see him play a much bigger role this upcoming season. Some people worried that Rice’s stats were inflated in the summer league, but I truly believe that his ability to score, get to the free throw line and play perimeter defense will translate seamlessly into Wittman’s system.
But, with all that said, what happens when both Porter and Rice are struggling and Webster still isn’t available to play?
Paul Pierce played under 30 minutes per game with the Brooklyn Nets last season, and at age 38, I don’t think we’ll see his minutes increase anytime soon.
The Washington Wizards have 14 players currently under contract, leaving one roster spot open. Teams typically invite a few more players to their training camp prior to the start of the regular season, giving them a chance to make a positive impression before the season tips off. Last year, the Washington Wizards invited Josh Childress, Xavier Silas and Pops Mensah Bonsu, despite not having an open roster spot.
I expect them to invite more players before training camp this season, but I also think they should look to sign another veteran wing player for the sake of having depth if/when Porter and Rice struggle.
Right now, the best available small forward on the free agent market is Chris Douglas-Roberts.
Roberts is reportedly linked to the Los Angeles Clippers, who also recently waived Carlos Delfino, and he’ll likely be available for the veteran’s minimum. The other available free agents include: Michael Beasley, Ronnie Brewer, Rasual Butler, Jordan Crawford (I know, I know), and Chris Singleton.
Although I have a lot of confidence in both Porter and Rice, I still think the Washington Wizards should consider adding another wing player. The Washington Wizards have added players from the NBADL in the past, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they took that route because they have had some success with it, but there are still some decent players with NBA experience available.
Should the Washington Wizards add another wing player before the start of camp? Let me know in the comments.