Earlier today, my colleague Adam Banig wrote a piece about how he was optimistic about the Wizards future, and in particular with the younger guys on this team. While I love the optimism, I think the future is a little more cloudy than it should be. Don’t get me wrong, the Wizards are certainly on the right track, but some of the players he highlighted as reasons for optimism are the exact ones I feel like are keeping this team in the draft lottery cellar. Washington is close, but without solid contributions from their bench, will they be able to become a playoff contender?
I am not saying the Wizards won’t be ready to take that next step, but they would be a lot closer if some of the young players on the team actually developed and were ready to contribute on a consistent basis. The Wizards bench has been rather terrible this year, and that bench mainly consisted of Kevin Seraphin, Chris Singleton, Jan Vesely, and Trevor Booker. With the right off-season moves, the Wiz could have the sun poking through the clouds, but even that would require some luck and faith in GM Ernie Grunfeld.
There are definitely some reasons to be optimistic about this team, but at the same time, there is plenty of skepticism to be passed around in regards to the future.
I can’t disagree here, John Wall and Bradley Beal have been outstanding when they have played together. I believe Beal has surpassed fan’s expectations with his shooting ability and overall play, and like Adam mentioned is only going to get better. He has superstar potential. And with John Wall’s play the last month and a half of the season, it is clear he is ready to make that next step. These two paired together really do have the potential to become the best back court in the league.
However, depth is still needed. The Wizards need to either bring AJ Price back for backup PG duty, or more preferably find a more capable backup through free agency or the draft. Maybe Tomas Satoranksy will come over this year and be that guy? Who knows what their plans are there.
They also need one more solid player at the guard position. Garrett Temple is doing an alright job, but he is getting the backup minutes that a better player should be getting. If the Wizards could draft a player like Victor Oladipo, the back court really would be set for the future.
Improvements can be made, but this is certainly an area where Wiz fans shouldn’t have to worry. Barring any health issues, both guard spots are locked and loaded for the future.
The front court is where all the questions come in. The Wizards four best front court players are nothing but question marks. Will Nene ever get healthy? Will the Wiz be able to sign and bring back Martell Webster? Outside of next season, will Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza be part of the future? If Nene, Ariza, Okafor, and Webster are all healthy together, than the backup spots are less meaningful — at least for one season — because the best players are going to be getting the majority of the minutes. But let’s face reality, those four could have played their last game together in Wiz unis. Either Okafor or Ariza could be traded, Webster could sign for more money elsewhere, and Nene has hinted (hopefully jokingly) at retirement due to nagging injuries.
That leaves us relying on Ernie Grunfeld’s draft picks in Seraphin, Singleton, Booker, and Vesely. The Wizards organization has never been able to develop young guys who have potential, and the case is no different in these four. Each have shown flashes of ability from time to time over this season and past ones, but none have stepped up and become a consistent contributor.
Jan Vesely is just a bust. We can keep using the word potential all we want, but the fact is anyone who watches him play can tell he doesn’t have what it takes to be a big time contributor. He is too soft on defense, and has next to no touch on offense other than occasionally throwing down an alley oop. He should not be a part of this teams future, and the Wizards should try and move him for anything they can get, even if it is a late second rounder. He may still develop into one of those high energy, 5-10 minute per game guys on a good team, but it just isn’t happening here in Washington.
Trevor Booker plays tough and rebounds well enough. But his health issues are concerning and he always seems to be nicked up. His development is not where it should be for a player who is getting ready to enter his 4th year in the league. He shows burst of potential and the occasional offensive game, but those games are unfortunately sprinkled in with too many 2 point 2 rebound performances. His consistencies, both with being able to get on the court and with on-court play, are disappointing. The Wizards still have him for another year on his rookie contract, so they don’t have to do anything just yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him being moved over the off-season.
Kevin Seraphin is the one guy who has received a decent amount of minutes, averaging over 21 minute per game. He is the most intriguing of the young front court players because he has showed a solid ability to put the ball in the hoop. He is still only shooting 46.1% from the floor which is entirely too low for a guy who is supposed to be playing around the basket. He at least has shown flashes of development, but is still far too inconsistent to be relied upon every night. He is definitely a keeper for next year since he has 1 year left on his rookie deal as well. But unless he continues to improve and develop, I don’t see a way where he could be relied upon as a starting center. His defense is poor, and he is a soft rebounder for someone with his size. He also needs to learn better shot management, aka you don’t have to shoot it every single time you touch it. If Seraphin can turn into a tougher, board crashing version of himself, he could be just what this team is looking for.
For some reason, I still think Chris Singleton can become a player. I am on board with Adam with this one. Touted as a defensive stopper when the Wizards drafted him, I have yet to see that play out over a set of games. Singleton disrupts plays and plays the passing lanes well, but I haven’t seen him completely shut down any players of significance on a nightly basis. Part of this is probably because he spends a majority of his time in coach Randy Wittman’s doghouse. I could see Singleton developing into a 10 point 7 rebound a night type of player who can guard the 3s of this league. He would need to develop a go-to offensive move and the ability to regularly knock down a three off of feeds from John Wall. I could see the Wizards trying to move Chris in a trade, particularly if Webster is brought back or if they take a SF in the draft. If neither of those happen, I would like to see Singleton stick around at least 1 more season and see if he can put it together.
So while the future is bright indeed, don’t let the Wall and Beal show cloud what you are actually seeing. The Wizards still have plenty of under-developed players clogging its bench. If two of these young bigs — hell even one at this point — can take that next step and become a consistent contributor, it would do wonders for the future of this team. If they continue to play inconsistent basketball, it is going to hold the Wizards back from going to the next level and the painful repetitive statement of “next year is the year” could continue just like the last four off-seasons. Progress is the key to success, and we need to start seeing progress from these young guys.