Washington Wizards Should Sign Mario Chalmers After NBA Trade Deadline

Jan 14, 2016; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Mario Chalmers (6) during the second half against the Detroit Pistons at FedExForum. Memphis defeated Detroit 103-101. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 14, 2016; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Mario Chalmers (6) during the second half against the Detroit Pistons at FedExForum. Memphis defeated Detroit 103-101. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports /

Washington Wizards made a deal before the NBA Trade Deadline, but didn’t acquire a backup point guard. Now they should pursue Mario Chalmers.

The Washington Wizards were active during the NBA Trade Deadline, as they typically are under Ernie Grunfeld, acquiring Bojan Bogdanovic and Chris McCullough from the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Marcus Thornton, Andrew Nicholson, and a 2017 lottery-protected first round pick.

The addition of Bogdanovic, as discussed by the WizofAwes crew, on paper should help the Wizards in their pursuit of their first 50-win season and Eastern Conference Finals appearance since the 1978-79 season. “Bogey” will provide Washington with a versatile wing, capable of scoring in a variety of ways – a missing element on the second unit especially.

What Washington didn’t add was backcourt depth, in particular at the point guard position.

The Wizards still lack a playmaker on the second unit – a player who can score and facilitate.  The Wizards have relied heavily on John Wall and Bradley Beal in this role and did not add reinforcements for the duo at the deadline.

Trey Burke has been the primary backup to John Wall, and had gone from trying to facilitate to being scoring-focused off the bench.

He’s improved slightly over the course of the season as his role has evolved but he still leaves much to be desired as the primary backup to Wall, averaging 5 points and 1.8 assists per game.

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Tomas Satoransky has had an inconsistent season, as should be expected for a rookie coming over from Europe.

He had received opportunities but has displayed tentativeness in looking for his own offense and a jumpshot, which will need a lot of work in the offseason (22% from the 3-point line).

Neither player has displayed a level of consistency in their play that can be relied upon as the Wizards enter the stretch run and on what they hope will be a deep playoff push.

We’ve seen it happen on numerous occasions this season.

The starters get off to a great start, but the bench comes in and quickly gives back the lead.

Another scenario we’ve seen play out is the starters will build what should be an insurmountable lea –  a lead that should allow them to put on the ice packs early – but the bench struggles to score and Wall, Beal, or both are forced to check back into a game to regain momentum.

Here are a couple of other key stats to keep in mind about the Wizards second unit, in particular the guards:

The Washington Wizards’ bench is last in assists and 3-point shots made. They also rank fourth in the NBA in overall turnovers, despite playing the second least minutes.

In the fourth quarter, the Wizards’ bench is last in assists – a full 40 assists behind the next lowest team on the list. The bench also ranks 27th in the NBA in plus/minutes.

Bogdanovic will help, but additional help is needed, in particular from the backcourt.

Given that the trade deadline has passed, there is only one name (currently available) that stands out to me as a fit to the roster: Mario Chalmers.

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Mario Chalmers has been on the shelf this season, recovering from a torn achilles he suffered last March as a member of the Memphis Grizzlies.

He’s apparently healthy now and participated in a free agent workout with the Cleveland Cavaliers in early February.

Chalmers is a seasoned pro – a steady if unspectacular player who can come in and instantly be an upgrade to the point guards on the Washington Wizards’ roster.

Prior to his injury, Chalmers was in the midst of a career season in Memphis posting a per-36 of 17.1 points, 6.1 assists, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.3 steals on 41.7% shooting from the field, 32.6% from the 3-point line and a PER of 18.

The large majority of this was done with Chalmers as a reserve, coming off the bench in 48 of his 55 games with the Grizzlies.

“Rio” is a player capable of manning the point guard position and getting a team in the offense.  As a member of the Grizzlies, he posted an offensive rating of 111.

He also has had plenty of experience playing off the ball alongside LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in Miami. The context that role gives us is that he not only would be capable of manning the point for the second unit, he would be capable of playing with a player like Wall.

Wall will have the ball in his hands when he’s on the court, playing the role of a facilitator.  For a backcourt player to be capable of a larger role with the Wizards, they not only have to be able to create for themselves, they have to be able to play off the ball as well.

In seasons where Rio was playing with LeBron (the defacto point guard in Miami), he shot 38.7% from the 3-point line on 3.6 attempts per game.

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I can’t understate the need for an upgrade at the reserve point guard position for the Wizards.

The front office just traded a lottery protected first round selection for a player who they hope can anchor the second unit as a versatile scorer.

If Bogey can’t get the ball where he’s comfortable or in position to succeed, that draft pick will have gone to waste.

To maximize the return on that investment, they need to move that puts Bogey in the best position to succeed.

Lastly, we know that the stage is not too big for Rio.

He’s played with the pressure that comes with playing next to the Miami Big Three and having that target on his back on a nightly basis.

Mario Chalmers has played in 99 career playoff games, including 73 starts. He’s also played in 23 NBA Finals games.  If you want to take it back further, Chalmers hit the game tying 3-point shot as a member of the 2007-08 NCAA Champion Kansas Jayhawks in the NCAA title game with 2.1 seconds left in regulation.

The stage isn’t too bright for him

Rio won’t press or fold if the Washington Wizards are in the middle of a testy second round series with the Boston Celtics.  In fact, that situation might bring out the best in him.

Next: Roundtable Reaction to Washington's Trade Deadline

The trade deadline has passed but the Washington Wizards still have some work to do in the backcourt.  There’s a solution out there, and it might be time for Ernie Grunfeld to pick up the phone.