How The Rebuilding Wizards Fit in With The Rebuilt Wizards
After a crazy first half of the season the Washington Wizards are left with an extremely young roster. Some guys full of potential, some guys that don't have a chance to escalate to more than role players. What Ernie Grunfeld (or a new GM) has to do is look at the current roster and determine where these guys could fit in on a successfully rebuilt Wizards squad. That's exactly what I'm going to try and do now from a fan's perspective. With one exception, I won't be addressing number 0, or 6, whatever he wants to be known as.
Let's start with the current starting 5:
Shaun Livingston- Livingston has been a great story and reclamation project for the Wizards. He's shown to be back to his pre-injury form and even shown improvement over that in certain parts of his game. That said, Livingston is not a starting point guard for a good team which the Wizards hope to be. Livingston's level of play is perfect for a #2 PG on a team. He would be extremely solid coming off of the bench for whoever we may find as our future starting point guard.
Rebuilt Role- Back-up Point Guard
Mike Miller- The Wizards will have a tough decision to make this offseason; if Mike Miller has any interest to re-sign that is. Mike Miller is exactly the kind of guy the Wizards need to moving towards filling their roster with. He's a great player and a hard worker. He will do anything you ask of him on the court and is a great guy off the court. Sounds like any easy decision so far; lock the guy up. But for a team in the position that the Wizards are in, how much do you want to commit to a 30 year old player. The way I see it, if Mike Miller is interested at all and we can get him at a reasonable rate for a relatively short-term multi-year deal then we've got to keep him. And he has more than proven to be a valuable starter in the NBA.
Rebuilt Role- Starting Shooting Guard/Small Forward
Al Thornton- Al Thornton has proven to be the best pick-up for the Wizards at the trade deadline (Cavs 1st round pick notwithstanding). In one of his first games he helped shut down Carmelo Anthony, making an immediate impact. Al Thornton has shown some utility in his game similar to Mike Miller. Also like Mike Miller, Thornton has never really been on a good team. But the difference is that Thornton has struggled to get playing time often on those teams. Thornton can be a solid starter for a team capable of losing 13+ in a row but hopefully the Wizards improve their team and find a more reasonable role for Thornton.
Rebuilt Role- Defensive Specialist and 2nd Unit Scorer
Andray Blatche- As evidenced of late, Andray Blatche has struggled with maturity throughout his time in the NBA. He's also consistently improved every aspect of him game from year to year. He was always a guy we would hear about from the organization and see displaying great potential. Now he has turned into a legitimate NBA starter and a go-to scoring option but you can still see a lot of room to grow which could be a scary good thing. If Andray Blatche can keep his head on straight he can be a crucial part of the solution in DC.
Rebuilt Role- Starting Power Forward
JaVale McGee- McGee is a special player in a lot of ways. It's very clear what he brings to the table. With his ridiculous wingspan and vertical he excels at protecting the rim and dunking on the opposite rim. Most of the time offensively though, JaVale just looks lost. He always seems out of place on O partially because of the mental but also because right now he lacks the skills to be a scorer. If McGee can add an effective hook in the post and dare I say even a mid-range jumper than he may be a real starting center one day. But for now, all I see is a high-energy guy coming off the bench; think Chris Andersen.
Rebuilt Role- Bench Player bringing energy and interior defense
My assessment of the starters makes it pretty clear that the team has some serious holes. The way I see it, only 2 of our guys are starters for competitive NBA teams. Those 5 have starting jobs on the line. Now as we get to the bench we get to guys with roster spots on the line.
Let me start with the guys who I think will be or at least have a chance to be on the roster for next season and possibly farther. It would be nice but it's extremely unlikely we'll be able to refer to next season's Wizards as "rebuilt".
Nick Young- Nick Young is a scorer but he's not consistent enough to be a good one. He's got the athleticism, quickness, ups, and shooting touch to give us some points off the bench. It will be similar to what he's doing with the team right now but hopefully he will continue to improve and be more efficient as a player overall. Nick Young could evolve to be really effective in this role.
Rebuilt Role- 6th Man; primary 2nd unit scorer
Randy Foye- Foye is another guy that will give the Wizards a tough decision this offseason. I think he's done enough to at least get a qualifying offer from the Wiz. We can see how the market shapes up for him after that. Randy's had an interesting role, to say the least, this year. He's had to transition from a combo guard to more of a full-time point guard which is something new to him. He's struggled at times but has been pretty effective for the most part but has a clearly limited game offensively.
Rebuilt Role- Solid bench player
Alonzo Gee- I'm not exactly sure about this guy's story but he's quickly given the Wizards a lot of minutes and a lot of scoring, even getting a start tonight for the injured Al Thornton. There's really no reason to write this guy off considering how he's been playing since getting the call to the NBA.
Rebuilt Role- Interesting prospect at the least
Quinton Ross- I really don't see this guy in any teams long-term plans. But the fact is he's got a player option for next season that he's likely to use looking at his 1 mil+ salary. He'll probably be around next year but I don't see him getting much playing time and I see him off the roster at the latest after next season.
Rebuilt Role- None
James Singleton- Big Game James is really hanging on by a thread in my eyes. He plays so hard and to me that's the reason I think that he can be in Washington long-term. He's got a very well rounded game including on the defensive side. His game really has effective role player written all over it.
Rebuilt Role- On the end of the bench, do-it-all reserve
That's the way I see it, those guys jobs are safe at least short-term. The players I'm about to get into though I don't think will be so lucky.
Josh Howard- He's got a team option for next season but has an absolutely absurd salary for next year. He's got question marks on and off the court. There's no place for Josh Howard on this roster next year.
Javaris Crittenton- Maybe I should've included him in my preface in the first paragraph. He's gone either way.
Earl Boykins- While rebuilding, I expect the Wizards to move towards young players with complete games that contribute to the entire team. Earl Boykins doesn't bring any of those things with him. I think Earl is a great guy and can be a good 3rd PG on a team but through his career he clearly has not been happy in that role.
Fabricio Oberto- Admittedly, I had high expectations for this team this season. And I loved the Oberto signing for 1-year. He was bringing in a savvy veteran presence, he's played big roles on championship teams, and he was a big body for a team really lacking in that department. However, there are too many reasons to just let him go. One being a rebuild that should involve a youth movement and his health issues. Fab may not even be interested in playing basketball anymore given his heart problems. I wish him well but don't see him on this roster even next season.
Real quickly I'd like to spit out a couple opinions I've got on the coaching staff.
Flip Saunders- I was fairly neutral to the decision to hire Flip in the summer. Flip wasn't really a polarizing guy. He's starting to become one though. It's become evident that he still has a strong bond with the best player he ever coached, Kevin Garnett. That should be translating into a good thing considering I see a lot of KG's game in Andray. But it's coming off more like a parent who has a favorite child. Noone wants to be the other kid and that's how he's making Dray feel. And he's making the whole team feel the same way in relation to some of the more successful teams he's coached. Flip isn't handling the failures of this season very well.
Rebuilt Role- Gone, I think Flip ought to be fired
Sam Cassell- If Flip is gone, there will be a lot of candidates who could come in. I don't think we've got to look any further than our own bench. Even when Cassell was in the prime of his career, everyone knew that he would go on to be a good coach. He played the game with a certain knowledge and basketball IQ that ultimately made him successful. That and the instant relation he'll have with current NBA players being so fresh out of the league should make him a great favorite for the position. I think one way or another Sam Cassell is going to be a great head coach. I just hope it's here in DC.
Rebuilt Role- Head Coach?
Well that's it. A lot of guys will and should have very different roles on the revamped Wizards squad but some guys are exactly what they are and will remain that way. I may have cut the roster a little thin but this might not be a quick process. It'd be nice but we're looking at a multi-year rebuilding phase for the Wizards. I left quite a few holes but it's not like i just created those holes. This time is in dire need for some new talent. Hopefully we fill those holes with good young players who can blossom into stars. New owner Ted Leonsis does have some experience in that department. I wish the best for every player on this roster now (save a couple guys) but I definitely wish the best for everyone who remains on the Wizards roster.
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