The Washington Wizards propelled themselves into the playoff conversation with the trade for Russell Westbrook. The 32-year-old touched down in D.C., attended his first practice, and made his first media appearance. Westbrook averaged 28 points, 7.9 rebounds, and seven assists on 47.2 percent shooting last year.
Pairing Westbrook with Bradley Beal creates one of the most dynamic backcourts in the NBA. Beal was one of the NBA’s premier stars and controversially missed out on an All-Star selection. The 27-year-old averaged 30.5 points, 6.1 assists, and 4.2 rebounds on 45.5 percent shooting and 35.3 percent from three. Beal’s game took a huge leap forward as a passer and on-ball creator last season, but his shooting percentages took a small hit. With Westbrook in the mix, he will receive less attention and have more opportunities to bring these numbers back up.
However, Washington’s roster has two big weaknesses – defense and playmaking. The Wizards rank in the bottom half in almost all defensive metrics.
WASHINGTON DEFENSE METRICS
DEF Rating – 114.7 (29th)
Reb – 31.9 (28th)
Steals – 8.0 (11th)
Blocks – 4.3 (24th)
PTS off TO – 16.7 (13th)
FB PTS – 12.7 (9th)
2nd chance PTS – 14.4 (28th)
PIP – 51.4 (25th)
FG% – 49.1 (29th)
2PT% – 55.7 (27th)
3PT% – 37.6 (27th)
Need help pic.twitter.com/aBW7CPidtr
— Thunder Moneyball (@geola388) December 5, 2020
The Wizards need to acquire players who fill these two holes to be truly considered a contender. It’s not going to come easy but the front office must do all they can to surround Beal and Westbrook with the right talent.
Washington Wizards: Potential Trade Targets to Improve Roster
Joe “Slow-Mo” Ingles Comes to D.C.
One of the low-key heroes of Utah Jazz basketball, Joe Ingles had a strange role with the team last season when Bojan Bogdanovic was healthy. The Australian is an underrated forward who possesses solid skills on both sides of the ball. Ingles hits the three at a high rate, can handle the rock, and is a stout defender. The 33-year-old averaged 9.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 5.2 assists on 44.5 percent shooting and 39.9 percent from three.
Ingles is a strangely effective player who leans heavily on his high IQ to make plays. The veteran doesn’t possess elite athletic ability or handles but can manipulate defenses, especially in the pick-and-roll. Additionally, Ingles is a sniper from deep, converting on 40.7 percent from three for his career. He would get a lot of open opportunities alongside Westbrook and Beal.
It’s unclear whether the Jazz is willing to move on from the veteran or what the asking price is. Approaching his seventh year in the league, Ingles has one year remaining after the 2020-21 season and one surmises he’s not in their long-term plans. He would be a nice complimentary piece next to Westbrook and Beal, acting as the team’s swiss army knife.
Washington Wizards Set Sights on Thaddeus Young
The Chicago Bulls have expressed its desire for postseason action, but one player on the outside is veteran Thaddeus Young. Young has carved himself a solid career as a do it all forward. However, with a jam of forwards on Chicago’s roster, he is likely to be dealt at some point in the year. Now in his 14th season, the veteran is still a highly productive player hunting for a role with regular minutes.
Young makes a lot of sense for Washington given its limitations upfront. He is a solid defender with a high defensive IQ and understands how to play within his role. Young can also chip in points when required and is an extremely fluid forward capable of fitting into many schemes.
The veteran averaged 10.3 points and 4.9 rebounds on 44.8 percent shooting and 35.6 percent from three. Given Chicago’s shift toward playing its young players, it won’t cost Washington much to pry him from the Bulls.
The Wizards Pry Away Derrick White
Derrick White is a nice combo guard who has spent the past three seasons with the San Antonio Spurs. Drafted 29th overall in the 2017 NBA Draft, White has developed himself into a solid three-level scorer while playing strong defense. The 26-year-old averaged 11.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 3.5 assists on 45.8 percent shooting and 36.6 percent from three.
As currently constructed, the Wizards lack ball handlers and shot creators outside of Westbrook and Beal. White offers playmaking at a solid level and can lead Washington’s bench units when its stars sit. Additionally, a three-guard lineup of Westbrook, Beal, and White offers playmaking, shot creation, and scoring. White’s 36.4 percent career three-point percentage is outwardly but it’s enough to keep defenses on their toes.
The Oklahoma City Thunder possessed the league’s best three-man lineups last season due to its offensive versatility. Should Washington go down this track, the Wizards could replicate the Thunder’s success.
The Washington Wizards have gaping holes all over its roster and need to plug them as soon as possible. Westbrook and Beal are stars in this league and will win many games. However, they will need help when the lights shine the brightest.
As it stands, Washington needs a player who can fill multiple roles. The trade for Westbrook signaled a desire to make the postseason and convince Beal to stay in D.C. This is a nice start, but the Wizards need to make more additions to transform their team into a contender.
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