The Memphis Grizzlies look to remain unbeaten at home as the struggling Washington Wizards travel to FedExForum. John Wall and the Wizards are already arguing with each other and the team might reach its breaking point sooner rather than later.
1: The Wizards have looked sluggish to start the season, crawling out to a 1-5 record going into tonight. Who/What has been the biggest disappointment so far?
The biggest disappointment is the team’s inability or refusal to change. The team talked a lot about the changes they needed to make to get back on track after last season and so far none of them have come to fruition. Yes, they’re short-handed right now because of Dwight Howard’s injury, but there’s other low-hanging fruit the team should have fixed by now.
The only thing they really changed this season is that they’re taking more threes, and even that’s not a great thing because they’re shooting them so poorly so far.
2. Over the last few seasons Washington has been known for having terrible locker room chemistry. It only took 5 games for John Wall and Bradley Beal to call out teammates publicly. How long before the front office makes a move to change the direction this team is going?
Based on the Wizards’ track record, they probably won’t make a panic move right now, but they’ll do something before the trade deadline. I think they want to get a sense of where everything stands after Dwight Howard enters the mix. Once they know who meshes well and who doesn’t at that point, it’ll be easier to make those determinations.
3. Put yourself in Ernie Grunfeld’s shoes. Which Wizard would you look to trade to hit the rest button? And what kind of package would you hope for in return?
I think it comes down ultimately to a decision between Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, and Markieff Morris. Oubre and Morris are both free agents this summer and Porter is already on a big deal. It’s hard to see a scenario in which all three are back next season given those constraints. Personally I’d probably look at trading Oubre because I don’t know if his actual ceiling is quite as high as his theoretical ceiling, and I worry some team will send him a big offer sheet this summer that puts Washington in a bind. They might be better suited to get someone with more cost control rather than lock into someone who has been wildly inconsistent throughout his early career.
That said, it’s hard to ignore how much tension is already evident with how Otto Porter get shots and how he functions in Scott Brooks’ offense. I wouldn’t be shocked if when push comes to shove, Porter is the first one out the door.
4. Are there any positive takeaways from the Wizards season so far?
5. Kelly Oubre Jr is in a contract year. Has he shown enough promise to be a key part of the Wizards future?
Granted, I just ran him out the door in the trade question, but I’m not quite ready to give up on him just yet. While he’s been very frustrating at times, he does have the right kind of skill set for today’s NBA and the Wizards have been at their best when he’s playing well. On top of that, he’s still very young for a guy getting ready for his second contract. there’s still plenty of time for him to evolve and mature into a much more reliable player.
I think the bigger issue is going to be what they want to do with Oubre if they decide to tear it down later this season. He’s a solid complementary piece to what the Wizards already do, but if they’re going in another direction, I’m not sure he’s a foundational piece for the next generation.
Thanks again to Jake for giving some great insight on the Wizards locker room and future. Be sure to give him a follow on Twitter (@jakewhitacre) and check out Bullets Forever for some great Wizards content.