After last night’s 95-90 loss at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers that saw the Wizards score 33 first quarter points and jump out to a 13 point lead, then only 32 points over the next 24 minutes, I immediately starting thinking about the off-season. While it was only a five point loss, it came at the hands of the Cavs who were without Kyrie Irving and Anderson Varejao, aka their best offensive and defensive weapons respectively. So after the Wizards dismal and discouraging loss, the wheels started turning in my head as to what moves need to happen to take this team to the next level. Let’s dig right in.
*Note – I won’t be including the fact that we need to fire Ernie Grunfeld. That’s just beating a dead horse, because even Helen Keller knows he needs to go.*
1) Fire Wittman and hire a competent coach
If you watch lots of Wiz games, I guarantee at least once, you have wanted to reach through the TV screen and strangle Randy Wittman because of his bone-headed clueless rotations. And also because of his clueless looks he gives on a nightly basis. Last night was a prime example. Wall played the entire 1st quarter and the Wiz ran out to a 13 point lead. Then Wall sat on the bench until right around the 6:40 mark of the second quarter and the 13 point first quarter lead had been cut down to only two points, the Wizards would only score 16 points in the quarter, and the Cavs went into the half ahead by one point. COME ON MAN!! But Wittman does deserve some credit. Washington has been a top ten defensive team all year, even without John Wall. Besides that though, there’s not much else you can say on a positive note about good ole Randy. Remember, I only said “some” credit.
The front office needs to jump on the head coaching position ASAP this off-season. There are a few really solid candidates in the pool of potential head coaches this year and if the Wizards don’t act quickly, we are going to end up with the guy that nobody else wanted. I have a short list of four coaches that need to be on the Wizards list of possible candidates. Here they are in order of which I think they would fit for Washington: Mike Malone (Warriors assistant), Brian Shaw (Pacers assistant), Mike Budenholzer (Spurs assistant), and Mo Cheeks (Thunder assistant).
The first three guys on the aforementioned list are young-ish coaches who are considered some of the top assistants around the league but have not been a head coach before. Malone is known for his defensive work with the Warriors. Shaw has won titles under Phil Jackson as a player and sitting beside him as an assistant and people give Shaw a lot of credit for the emergence of Paul George. Budenholzer is a top assistant for the Spurs. There’s nothing else that needs to be said there, it’s the Spurs. And the last candidate, Mo Cheeks, is a former player, head coach, and the lead assistant for the Thunder. He has had a lot of experience around the league and with a decent amount of success at each stop. SI.com’s Chris Mannix has a nice piece on potential head coaches which you can read here, and get a more in-depth breakdown of those four guys.
Most everyone wants to see a new coach, let’s just hope the Wizards can land a keeper, because in order to take the next step, solid coaching needs to be in place.
2) Draft a Playmaking Wing Player
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Martell Webster and what he brings to the Wizards and it would be highly disappointing if Martell is not retained the summer. But you can’t bring emotions into building a basketball team. Webster is a great 3-point shooter and brings a nice scoring punch to this team, but he cannot create much for his teammates and doesn’t create his own offense consistently. I would love to see him in a 6th man role next year, and with his shooting touch, Martell might be able to challenge for 6th Man of the Year.
A lot of people have fallen in love with Otto Porter, including us, and think he would be a great fit for Washington. Porter is a 6’ 8” wing player that can do whatever you need him to do. But with Porter’s rise amongst every team’s draft board, it looks like a legit possibility that he might be drafted before the Wiz can get their hands on him. But Porter is not the only wing player that would be an upgrade. Shabazz Muhammad is a scoring wing player that can create for himself. Also Victor Oladipo is a slashing wing that is developing his shooting touch. Of those three, Porter seems to have the most upside and seems to be the player that could contribute the most right away. Either way, one of those three players would make a great running mate to go with Wall and Beal.
3) Upgrade the Back-up PG Position
AJ Price has had some quality games, but those games don’t come frequent enough. Last night the team fell apart when he entered the game for John Wall, and that happens more often than Price coming in and playing a solid game. If the Wizards want to take the next step, a better back-up PG is in order.
There are some quality PGs coming up in free agency that the Wizards should target. Here’s a short list that would be a huge upgrade for Washington: Devin Harris, Nate Robinson, DJ Augustin, Beno Udrih, and Sebastian Telfair. All five of those of those guys would be upgrades over AJ Price and could steady the offense while John Wall gets his breathers. The first three on the list might be out of the Wizard’s price range, but Udrih and Telfair could be had for cheap.
4) Finally Move on from Failed Draft Picks
It’s becoming pretty clear that Chris Singleton, Jan Vesely, Trevor Booker, and Kevin Seraphin all aren’t going to be contributors on this Wizards team. First off, it’s pretty damn dumb to draft four players that pretty much play the same position, but that’s a whole different Grunfeld tirade. But it comes a point in every player’s career where the team that drafted them gets tired of seeing zero to minimal improvement, and it is getting VERY close to that point with the four aforementioned players.
Of those four, Seraphin has shown the most improvement and he should stick with the team. As for the other three though, it might be time to start parting ways. Singleton and Booker could have some value in other team’s eyes so it would be nice to see one or both of those players packaged with one of our second round picks to move up in the draft. If they aren’t going to contribute on the court, why not have them contribute to our draft positions? It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to see if we could trade one of them for an upgrade to the back-up PG position. Regardless, I think it’s time to start riding this team of our failed draft experiments.
In my eyes those are the four items that need to be on the top of the Wizards off-season to-do list. Hopefully it’s not EG making these moves because we all know how heartbroken we will be with the results. Let us know in the comments section what you think the Wizards need to do this summer to take that next step. Until next time, Stay Steezy my friends!