Almost every year, an NBA team seemingly “blows up their roster” to rebuild from the ground up. The Washington Wizards are the team to do that this year, as they traded away stars Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis. While the Wizards jettisoned their two highest-paid players, they are not in total rebuild mode. Still, there are questions about several players on their roster, so they are ranked 29th in my 2023-24 NBA Power Rankings.
2023-24 NBA Power Rankings Offseason Edition: No. 29 Washington Wizards
Washington did retain Kyle Kuzma by signing the 28-year-old forward to a four-year, $90 million contract. The Wizards picked up a scorer in Jordan Poole, although he has turnover issues and is a defensive liability. The Wizards also added Tyus Jones, the preeminent backup point guard, along with some young talent in Ryan Rollins, Patrick Baldwin Jr., and Bilal Coulibaly.
Rollins, a second-round pick by the Atlanta Hawks in 2022, split time between the Golden State Warriors and Santa Clara of the G League. The 21-year-old combo guard demonstrated a scoring mentality with Santa Clara and the 2K24 Las Vegas Summer League. Rollins is a high-volume scorer who doesn’t shoot it well from deep, though he did demonstrate his ability to run a team in Vegas.
Baldwin was a surprise first-round draft pick by the Warriors a year ago. The 20-year-old wing didn’t get much time with the Dubs, but he did it reasonably well from deep and scored in double-figures four times. While he struggled in Las Vegas, he did show off his athleticsm and some defensive chops.
Coulibaly was the surprise lottery selection this year. The athletic 19-year-old Frenchman was chosen with the seventh overall pick and had a decent summer session. He demonstrated strong two-way capabilities and the ability to get to the free-throw line. While Coulibaly shared the ball well, he struggled with his shot – especially from the three-point line – and turnovers.
Best NBA Offseason Decision: Re-Signing Kyle Kuzma
Michael Winger, the Wizards’ new president of basketball operations, did a decent job at reducing Washington’s payroll while giving them a chance to still be competitive. Re-signing Kuzma was key after deciding to trade Beal and ship out Porzingis before the big man opted in for $36 million.
Kuzma has produced his best two seasons with the Wizards and has developed into a borderline top-ten power forward. The 28-year-old has always been a scorer, but he has done a better job on the defensive glass and with his playmaking ability with the Wizards.
Kuzma compiled career highs in points (21.2), assists (3.7), and three-pointers (2.5) last year. However, he is still not a good three-point shooter and struggled with turnovers.
Worst Offseason Decision: Taking on Jordan Poole’s Salary
Winger did what he had to do to trade Porzingis and Beal, meaning he technically had little control over the assets the Wizards received back. Poole received a lot of criticism last year, particularly in the postseason. Was it fair? We will see. Granted, he is a disaster defensively and was awful during the 2023 playoffs.
Poole is an offensive phenom who can create for himself and others. The 24-year-old combo guard is a high-volume scorer whose shot selection has come into question. But he also gets to the free-throw line and finishes well around the rim.
The biggest issue is Poole is the Wizards’ highest-paid player. This year, he will make nearly $28 million as part of his four-year, $102 million rookie-scale extension that kicks in this upcoming season. If Poole doesn’t work out, it will be difficult for the Warriors to get out from under the contract.
Things to Do: Get Down to 15 Players and Add a Big Man
Washington has 16 players on fully guaranteed contracts. Anthony Gill is the most likely player to be waived, as his contract is $2 million. Danilo Gallinari, Cooks, and Rollins are also candidates to be cut from the 15-man roster.
Washington has spent over $138 million on contracts, so the Wizards have plenty of money to spend. I don’t know if there are many players worth giving money to for the Wizards, given their current state.
But if the Wizards would be inclined to spend some cash, they could use another big man. Gallinari could fill the team’s third center role, as he will likely see limited minutes at power forward.