Deadline day wasn’t incredibly exciting for the Washington Wizards, but they have a few new faces on the roster. Welcome to D.C., Daniel Gafford, and Chandler Hutchison.
As expected, the Washington Wizards didn’t make a huge splash at the trade deadline. But they were active. In a three-team trade that included the Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics, the Wizards sent Troy Brown Jr to Chicago and Moritz Wagner to Boston. In return, they got Daniel Gafford and Chandler Hutchison from Chicago. The Wizards officially announced the trade on Thursday night. Here’s where everyone landed once the dust finally settled…
The trade marks the end of an odd two and a half seasons for Troy Brown Jr in Washington. Although the Wizards had picked up Brown’s fourth-year option earlier this season, he was obviously on the outs. The Wizards never seemed to figure out how they wanted to use Brown after drafting him 15th overall in 2018. Was he a 3&D wing? Was he a playmaking forward? Starter or off the bench? His role was never consistent and never truly defined.
Wagner was a fun, charge-drawing spark plug at the center position for the last season and a half. However, Wagner was set to hit free agency at the end of the season, probably marking the end of his time in D.C. The Wizards, who had little leverage at the trade deadline, swapped two players on the outs for something of value.
What are the Washington Wizards getting out of Daniel Gafford and Chandler Hutchison?
The centerpiece of this return for the Wizards is Gafford. The 6’10”, 22-year-old center excels in some of the Wizards’ weakest areas. Gafford is a top-tier rim protector. Per 36 minutes, Gafford averages 3.3 blocks and had the seventh-highest block rate in the NBA among players with at least 300 minutes when the Wizards traded for him.
He’s also a solid rebounder, averaging 9.8 rebounds per 36 minutes this season. Plus, he adds an explosive aspect to the frontcourt. Gafford is springy, something that hasn’t been true of a Wizards center in a long time. They’ve finally got a lob threat down low.
Gafford was buried on the Bulls bench, turning in 12 DNP’s this season despite showing some obvious potential when given minutes. Hopefully, with more opportunities in Washington, Gafford can turn flashes of potential into sustained success.
Gafford — a young, athletic rim-runner — is a much better fit for the Wizards’ offense than Lopez or Len. Also, he’s on a team-friendly contract for the next two seasons while both Lopez and Len will be free agents this offseason. Once Gafford is ready to go, the Wizards should give him as much run as possible. Let’s see if he’s got a future here. Len and Lopez don’t.
Chandler Hutchison is more of an afterthought in this deal. He hasn’t played since February 5 and hasn’t played more than 44 games in a single season since entering the NBA in 2017.
If he can stay on the court, Hutchison could be a solid wing defender for the Wizards who desperately need one. At 6’7″ with a 7’1″ wingspan, Hutchison has the size to make an impact on the defensive end. However, he’s an offensive liability, and certainly doesn’t stretch the floor. Hutchison is a 29.7 percent three-point shooter for his career, and the Wizards already have a wing defender that they can’t rely on for offense.
All in all, the Wizards aren’t shaking up the Eastern Conference or even the Southeast Division with this move. However, they were able to turn two players who were on the outs in Washington into at least one player (Gafford) who legitimately addresses a lot of their frontcourt deficiencies. Aside from being flat-out fun to watch — which hasn’t always been the case for Wizards’ big men this season — Gafford will improve the Wizards’ defense and rebounding the minute he steps on the court.
The move is one that has become a hallmark of the Tommy Sheppard era: The Wizards gave up little to take a couple of fliers on guys with upside that haven’t panned out elsewhere. Most of them — Moritz Wagner, Isaac Bonga, Jerome Robinson — haven’t worked out. Hopefully, at least one of these two do.