Last season, the Washington Wizards were one of the worst offensive teams in the NBA, prompting them to go after Jordan Poole in the offseason.
But little did fans know they would end up as the worst defensive team this season.
Even though the Wizards still have trouble getting into a groove offensively, it’s the defense that has fans scratching their heads. Right now, they have a defensive rating of 120.6 and a net rating of -8.2, both nearly at the bottom of the league. Power forward Kyle Kuzma has acknowledged their lack of defense during an interview after Wednesday’s loss to the Orlando Magic.
"We can't guard a stop sign,” Kuzma told Josh Robbins of The Athletic. "That's kind of really what it boils down to. We let anybody get whatever they want on us. So, until we change that, then that's probably going to be the result."
With that considered, some have pondered over the possibility of engaging in trade talks.
Dorian Finney-Smith would be a great fit for the Wizards
One player they may want to keep under their radar is Brooklyn Nets’ power forward Dorian Finney-Smith, who has recently been thrown into trade rumors. As of right now, the only teams that have expressed interest in the Virginia native are the Miami Heat, Dallas Mavericks, Philadelphia 76ers and Memphis Grizzlies.
But it wouldn’t hurt the Wizards to throw themselves into the mix.
Adding Finney-Smith to the Wizards’ roster would solve some of their defensive problems. This season, he only averages 0.4 steals and 0.6 blocks a game but does many other things on defense that don’t end up on the traditional box score. He’s so talented defensively that coaches usually trust him with guarding the opponent's best player.
When he’s on defense, Finney-Smith invests all his energy. For the season, he averages 10.7 contested shots per 48 minutes and deflects an average of 2.0 passes exchanged. He also takes pride in sacrificing his body as he logs in 1.2 recovered loose balls per 48 minutes.
Those particular defensive traits are what the Wizards desperately need. They’ve been horrible in those categories all season but November was especially rough.
Sure, they made an effort in intercepting passes with an average of 13.9 deflected ones per 48 minutes but couldn’t create a positive result, averaging only 4.6 recovered loose balls. The main problem they had, though, was staying in front of their opponents. There were many instances in games where defenders failed to get around screens, often resulting in wide-open shots. In November, the Wizards contested a total of only 611 shots.
The Wizards have some options for who they'll send away
If the Wizards do happen to express interest, they will need to figure out who they will give up. Despite Jordan Poole’s ups and downs, they might not want to move on from him yet. So, the best trade scenario would be to let go of forwards Corey Kispert and Danilo Gallinari.
The Wizards were high on Kispert this season, considering his lethal 3-point shooting last year. But unexpectedly, his numbers took a massive dip. Sure, his minutes decreased by six and he only started in one game but when he’s on the court, he has a plus/minus of -9.6 per 100 possessions, the sixth-worst on the team.
As for Gallinari, the level of expectations were completely opposite from Kispert’s. Due to his lengthy history of injuries, fans were prepared for a subpar season. But even though he is averaging just 15 minutes a game as a reserve, his production level is still unsatisfactory.
The roster upgrade is just one upside to this plan. The other benefit is the Wizards might be able to keep their much-needed picks as they are still trying to complete a rebuild.
Though this is just one of the many possible scenarios, the Washington Wizards could certainly use another defensive asset to salvage a historically horrible season.