Washington Wizards: Starting lineup locks, fringe, and potential break-ins

Washington Wizards Rui Hachimura (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Washington Wizards Rui Hachimura (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /
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Washington Wizards Isaac Bonga
Washington Wizards Isaac Bonga (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /

Fringe options for the Washington Wizards Starting Lineup: Deni Avdija, Isaac Bonga, Troy Brown Jr, Jerome Robinson

There’s really only one spot in the starting lineup that is yet to be determined, and that’s the small forward position. It was a weak spot last season, too. Isaac Bonga and Troy Brown Jr split the starter duties during the 2019-20 season. Bonga started in 49 of his 66 games last season. Brown started in 22 of his 69 games, but only 14 were starts at the small forward position.

Each of the four options for the three spot brings something different to the table. Avdija, the rookie, brings length above all else, which will be a welcome addition on the perimeter as the Wizards attempt to improve their dreadful defense from last season. He’s also a skilled and willing passer who can keep the offense moving. Plus, he’ll keep moving, himself, as an active and smart off-ball cutter. Avdija won’t necessarily need to have the ball in his hands to make an impact right away.

Troy Brown Jr is another option with some of that same playmaking ability, but his inconsistency from three makes him an unreliable option. Entering his third NBA season, it’s troubling that Brown hasn’t beat out some of these other candidates despite the flashes we’ve seen from him. For what it’s worth, Brown seems to be more effective as a secondary playmaker on the second unit and not as a starter.

While Isaac Bonga is the incumbent, it might not make sense to keep him in the starting lineup this season. Although he does add a defensive presence to the starting five, he is almost a nonfactor on offense. His shooting did improve as the 2019-20 season progressed, but he’s not a threat to stretch the floor, which could cause problems alongside Russell Westbrook, a career 30.5 percent three-point shooter. Bonga’s not a threat to attack the basket, either.

Even Jerome Robinson could find his way into the starting lineup. Robinson seemed to perform his best with the Wizards as a microwave scorer off the bench. Come in, get hot, and score. He did it best in the bubble, where he scored 15 or more points in five of eight games, but the Wizards need more than just offense in the starting lineup.