The other day, the Wizards got finally got off the schnide, winning their first game of the season. While we offer them our sincere congratulations, a 1-12 start does not a playoff team make, which renders the Wizards our inaugural entry into the Concession Report.
In the midst of yet another disappointing season, General Manager Ernie Grunfeld undertook a dubious effort to improve the maturity of his team, sending chucker Nick Young to the Clippers and swapping mercurial (and very productive) Center Javale McGee for the Nuggets' Nene. (Rule #1: don't trade with the Nuggets, they're VERY good at it)
The off-season brought more of the same, as Grunfeld inexcusably exchanged the gigantic expiring contract of Rashard Lewis for the two years remaining on the merely bad contracts of otherwise solid vets Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor. Also, Combo Forward and renowned competitive hot dog eater Andray Blatche was given his walking papers via the amnesty. The Wiz were ready to contend!
Yes we are being sarcastic, but some people actually did pick them to make the playoffs.
What Went Wrong:
Everything. John Wall, the figurehead of the team for better or worse, has yet to play a game and his replacements (AJ Price, Jannero Pargo) are miserably bad. Beal, the third pick in the draft, has been slow to find his shot, which when you are shooting 32%, is a wildly generous understatement. The aging and injury-prone Nene has barely played due to a foot injury and young bigs Kevin Seraphin and Jan Vesely have struggled out of the gate after finishing last season on a promising note.
What Went Right:
Okafor and Ariza are doing what they do, which isn't that bad. Forwards Chris Singleton and Trevor Booker are proving to be pretty good players, and vets Shaun Livingston and Martell Webster are doing a nice job off of the bench.
If We Ran The Show:
The number one decision any Wizards front office needs to confront is John Wall. Wall's DI was very strong and he has displayed much of the skill set that made him a justifiable number one pick in his first two years in Washington. However, Wall has torpedoed any potential efficiency he might have brought to the team with eye-popping turnover numbers, over-enthusiastic jump shooting, and nagging injuries. More often than not, these are not habits that players shed over time, but Wall is usable as is ('11-12 - WP48 .101), and Washington is bad enough to justify us seeing this thing through.
Of the players we've drafted over the past two seasons Singleton, Vesely, and Beal are all potential contributors and won't be moved. Kevin Seraphin is the odd man out; he's a poor rebounder, scores inefficiently, and his productive end to '11-12 looks like garbage-time stat stuffing to us. I'm shopping him to teams with thin frontcourts.
As for the figures of maturity and stability, I would be willing to part with any of them, but wouldn't have high hopes in that regard. We could probably send Ariza somewhere at the deadline for an expiring contract, but Nene and Okafor likely are entrenched. As mentioned earlier, these are productive players, so we can deal with it, but it's tough to imagine us getting our money's worth out of either player. The team's worst player getting regular minutes is Jordan Crawford, who I would try to package with Ariza or just relegate to bench-warming duty.
The true bright side for the Wizards decision makers is a likely Top 3 pick and a decent amount of cap space next off-season. The team's greatest needs are high efficiency shooters and perimeter defenders. There's currently no reason for opponents not to pack the paint, which hurts the young bigs and the young guards. We'd be looking for a Dorell Wright or Kyle Korver type wing and a reliable back-up PG who can actually run stuff for us and step in if/when Wall misses games, maybe Beno Udrih. In terms of the draft, at this point we aren't completely sold on Zeller or Noel, but will interested to see the how their DI looks come season's end, as either would fit nicely at the 4.