Wednesday, June 26, 2019

As the trade deadline approaches, the Wizards have failed to make any inclination that they intend on trying to get better going forward.  Over this past season, there has been a problem with the team playing down to their competition in games where they are clearly favored, especially after playing to their full potential against far better teams. You could identify a couple of reasons as to why the Wizards carry almost the same winning percentage to teams above .500 (66%) as they do to teams below .500 (73%) but the obvious answer is team complacency.

Back on December 27th, the Wizards lost a game to the then 9-25 Atlanta Hawks.  Our bench finally stepped up that game with Kelly Oubre scoring 11 points and Jodie Meeks scoring 14, so there was a little silver lining.  What made the loss worse though, was the fact our starting center, Marcin Gortat, only scored 2 points in 21 minutes of play.

While we shook this loss off and tried to move forward, a couple weeks later on January 17th, things were no better as the Wizards were bounced by the then 17-25 Charlotte Hornets 133-109.  In that game, once again, our bench proved to be helpful, with Kelly Oubre scoring 16 points, Mike Scott scoring 18, and Jason Smith adding 10.  But it was once again our starters failing to show up with Otto Porter only scoring 6 points, Markieff Morris scoring 2, and Marcin Gortat not putting any points on the board.

Just when you thought they starting to figure things out, this past Monday, the Wizards once again endured another loss, this time to the then 15-31 Dallas Mavericks.  While solid point totals were distributed around the bench it was the 5 points from Markieff Morris, 4 points from Otto Porter, and 6 points from Marcin Gortat that weren’t enough to get us the win.

“Stat Boosting”

After the first loss, John Wall attributed this reoccurring theme to the fact that players are approaching these games merely as stat boosters.  When they approach it this way, players are getting out of rhythm and are not making the best decisions, especially in crunch time.  In the loss against the Hawks, during the fourth quarter, the starters had 12 possessions that resulted in shot attempts and nine concluded with either one pass within the offensive set or no pass at all.

Complacency has become prevalent over the past few regular seasons and as stated in my last article, it’s issues like this that cause the team to endure unnecessary losses at key points in the season. Thus, a talented team earns a fourth or fifth seed position in the Eastern Conference Playoffs, when they had been competitive enough all year to be at least a second or third seed.

In the past five seasons, the Wizards have lost 3-5 of their playoff appearances in the East Conference Semi Finals and in the other two seasons; they failed to even make the playoffs.  While this lackadaisical approach of losing games may work for teams like the Cavaliers who last season fell to the second seed in the Eastern Conference, while going on to still beat the first seeded Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Wizards simply just aren’t good enough to take this approach.

Let’s Make A Deal…

To address this issue, the Wizards would have to add a few players to the trading block.  As for our starters, I’d be willing to get rid of both Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat.  Both players have been very beneficial at different parts in the season but together, they lack consistency.  While other teams may look at this factor in their willingness to trade, we could also add a few bench players like Jodie Meeks, Jason Smith, or Tomáš Satoranský to the trading block as well.  The downside of wanting to trade for two starters is the fact that the trade deadline is so close, thus, making it hard to work out most of the analytics.  So for sake of the analysis we’ll look at either/or situations for the two.

If the Wizards were to get rid of Morris and keep Gortat, the best trade outcomes would involve us getting rid of Meeks and Smith along with him so therefore we don’t exhaust our bench at the forward positions.  At that point, the best bet would to go out and get Thaddeus Young from the Indiana Pacers.  Currently, Young is averaging 11.8 PPG and 6.0 RPG this season compared to Morris’s 9.9 PPG and 5.5 RPG.  The best part about Young is the fact that we wouldn’t have to call plays for him.  He can stretch the floor and knock down jumpers from the outside consistently or even work well in the pick and roll game.  Not only that, but he is also able to guard the 3-5 positions, something Markieff Morris struggles with. While we are giving up two of our bench players, a player worth looking into adding would be someone like Terrance Jones from the G League.  Even though he plays in the G League, over the course of his 232 game NBA career he has averaged 10.5 PPG.  Adding a player like him to the mix will help our bench in the absence of Jason Smith and will also help us save money in the process.

If the Wizards were to trade Gortat and keep Morris, our best bet would be looking to get a player like Julius Randle from the Lakers.  Currently, with the emergence of Kyle Kuzma, Randle is hot on the trading block as the Lakers are looking to free up minutes for their other young stars.  Randle currently averages 13.6 PPG and 7.1 RPG compared to Gortat’s 9.0 and 8.2, so, there is an upside to his offensive game.  What Gortat’s game lacks is being able to match up well with other big men across the league whether need be to step out and guard the perimeter or protect the rim, something that Randle is better at and in the end him being younger, we can develop more.  With this trade, the Wizards can also explore getting Corey Brewer, which is very possible in this situation.  Brewer would be able to come off our bench and add depth across the board with his experience.

Both of these acquisitions will help us in the long run and ultimately fix complacency because not only do we get an added offensive value but both players are known for doing what you ask of them for the greater good of the team.  They both possess an edge that allows them to consistently be viable options throughout games which takes pressure off of John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter in heated situations.  While the distribution of shots is a whole different discussion, adding weapons like these to the Wizards arsenal would vastly improve their chances of making a deep run in the playoffs.


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