NBA Future Power Rankings: 17. Washington Wizards
Washington Wizards: The past couple of seasons the Wizards looked like a team ready to contend with an interesting combination of young players and veterans. During this time frame the Wizards were very careful to preserve cap space for this offseason in order to convince D.C. native Kevin Durant to join the team. Fast-forward to today and the Wizards’ plan completely backfired. Last season the Wizards regressed on the floor and failed to make the playoffs, leading Durant to not even consider meeting with the Wizards, let alone sign with them. Despite this sour turn of events, the Wizards still have a lot going for them. John Wall still leads the way as one of the NBA’s next generation of superstars. Wall is under contract for three more years and is only 25. In addition to Wall, Washington has a solid starting center in Marcin Gortat on a very affordable contract, and a very good forward in Markieff Morris. Morris has one of the best contracts in the NBA, as he is due just $24 Million over the next three seasons. The Wizards also have an interesting collection of young players in Andrew Nicholson, Trey Burke, Otto Porter, and Kelly Oubre. The Wizards made two big signings this offseason, and both leave a lot of questions and risks. As mentioned with the Pacers, the Wizards signed Ian Mahinmi to a 4-year $64 Million contract. Mahinmi had a great contract year, but does one breakout season at age 29 justify this contract? Even if his 2015-16 season wasn’t a fluke, the signing makes little sense with Gortat still under contract for three more seasons (unless they plan on trading him). Gortat and Mahinmi are both being paid like players that should be playing 30+ minutes a game, yet they are both exclusively centers. There is absolutely no way the two can be effective sharing the floor. Unless one of the two is moved, the Wizards will be paying about $30 Million a year for the next 3 seasons for 48 minutes of Mahinmi/Gortat at center. Keep in mind that the Pistons just signed All-Star center Andre Drummond to a max contract that will be less costly than the Wizards center combo per season. The Wizards other big move was signing Bradley Beal to a monstrous 5-year $128 Million deal. Beal is only 23, a very good defender, solid secondary ball-handler, and one of the best shooters in the game. He is the perfect complement to Wall in the backcourt with the ability to play alongside Wall and lead the offense when Wall rests. Outside of the Bay Area, Wall and Beal form the best backcourt in the league (sorry Raptors, Clippers, and Trail Blazers fans). The problem with Beal is he can’t stay on the floor. Beal entered the NBA with injury concerns and in his first 4 seasons, Beal has already missed 81 games. Losing a player of Beal’s talent and youth was an option Washington couldn’t afford, but it is still incredibly risky to be paying him so much over a 5-year contract. I love Beal’s game, but he needs to find a way to stay on the floor. If the Wizards want to get back on track to challenging in the Eastern Conference they will need Beal to remain healthy, something he has yet to prove capable of doing.s.