A Look at the Wizards' Deadline Moves
The Washington Wizards have been steadily gaining ground in their push toward the top of the Eastern Conference standings. However, despite the All-Star play from the backcourt combination of John Wall and Bradley Beal, the team is less than perfect. Unfortunately, your starters can only be on the court for so many minutes; this isn’t a 2K franchise, and you can’t just turn off the fatigue setting. So, there were moves to be made at the deadline. The Wizards starting five have been stellar this season, but the bench unit has been lackluster to say the least. With the final stretch of the season here, and the playoffs around the corner, the Wizards needed to add depth to their bench to become a true title contender.
So far this season, the Wizards have had one of the most productive starting units in the league. The Wizards starters have been putting up 84.5 points per game. That’s good enough for second in the league for a starting five, trailing only the super-team that is the Golden State Warriors. While that’s certainly an accomplishment to be proud of, the production of the bench unit has been less than impressive. The Wizards’ bench has been shallow and unproductive; clocking in at 29th in the league in both bench minutes per game and bench points per game. The only team behind them in bench production is the Minnesota Timberwolves.
In an attempt to escape the terrifying Minnesota Timberwolves class of bench units, the Wizards made a deal with the Brooklyn Nets to acquire Bojan Bogdanovic and Chris McCullough in exchange for Marcus Thornton, Andrew Nicholson, and a 2017 first round draft pick. The trade itself might not seem, particularly colossal but it’s precisely what the Wizards needed to prove themselves as a viable threat.
The addition of Bogdanovic is by far the most influential part of the trade, with the former Nets’ wing able to provide a noted scoring threat off the bench. Bogdanovic had been one of the main bright spots for a Nets team that has had very little to enjoy this season. His impact has already been felt by a Wizards team that desperately needed him. In eleven games since joining the team, Bogdanovic has put up 15.6 points per game while shooting .477 from the field and ..456 from three. The numbers are an incredible improvement for a bench that has scored less than 25 points per game.
The other trade acquisition, while not immediately influential, helps to pave the way for the rosters’ future (and keep the roster numbers balanced). Chris McCullough is a D-League player right now, but the former first round pick has shown potential in his D-League experience, and has the athleticism to be a successful player in the NBA, although only time will tell.
Lost in the trade were Marcus Thornton and Andrew Nicholson, two bit players who act as acceptable losses in the acquisition of Bogdanovic. The Wizards also gave up their first round draft pick in this year’s draft. Although, chances are that the draft pick won’t be as valuable as Wizards draft picks of recent history.
The Wizards moves didn’t stop there, as they made moves to further strengthen the depth of their roster. Not long after acquiring Bogdanovic, the Wizards made another solid pick-up in the form of Brandon Jennings. Jennings, a former starter, has seen his production decrease in recent years, but he still represents a solid point guard who can hold his own coming off the bench. His impact hasn’t been felt thus far, but his 13 minutes off the bench do alleviate some of the stress that may fall onto John Wall and Bradley Beal.
Going into the trade deadline, the Wizards seemed like a strong, but flawed team who might be able to make some noise in the playoffs. Coming out of the deadline, the Wizards have an improved bench with a formidable scoring threat in Bojan Bogdanovic. Now, the team is heading into the playoffs with one of the strongest starting units in the league with a reinforced bench. For the first time in a long time, the Washington Wizards are positioned to enter the playoffs with a top three seed, and a good chance to make a run deep into the postseason.