Can Booker, Singleton, Vesely co-exist?

Can Booker, Singleton, Vesely co-exist?
April 8, 2013, 5:30 pm
(Bob Youngentob CSN Washington)

Six current Washington Wizards are days away from entering a free agency offseason.

Trevor Booker, Chris Singleton and Jan Vesey are not among them.

That does not mean the trio of forwards will return next season...Let's rephrase...That does not mean the trio of forwards should return next season, certainly not all of them.

Last season as the Wizards dealt with a dysfunctional lockout-shortened season and frontcourt turnover, all three played significant minutes. To varying degrees, they at least shined or showed promise.

Through 77 games this campaign, starring moments have been sparse, their roles reduced to deep supporting cast, overshadowed by a stable of veterans.

Completing his third season, Booker is the physical freak that rebounds with intensity yet cannot remain healthy. Singleton's brings a defensive-minded knack with the ability to gaurd small and power forwards. Vesely's open court prowess and solid basketball instincts remains the lynchpin for any future optimism regarding the No. 6 overall pick from the 2011 draft.

However, while they bring unique skill sets to the court, their core traits overlap far too much. Let's put it this way: no term relating to offense or scoring was used in the previous descriptions. Energy forwards, yes. Point-producing forwards, no.

Even when injuries struck forwards Nene and Trevor Ariza or the absence of John Wall or Bradley Beal meant an all hands on deck approach, Wizards coach Randy Wittman rarely used Booker or second-year players Singleton and Vesely together. Playing 3-on-5 offensively is never the plan.

Sometimes advanced or even basic stats can help justify a position, though none was required for this post. The evidence that Booker, Singleton and Vesely struggle to co-exist is obvious to those regular Wizard watchers. Still, we'll throw the mathematical side of the aisle a bone. Of the team's top-30 lineup combinations this season, only one had two of these three forwards in it.

Even with Wall turning into a mega-scorer, while Beal and Nene can also carry an offense when needed, the Wizards lack depth when it comes to players capable of generating their own points.

That's why when additional scoring options were needed because of injuries, Wittman simply shortened the playing rotation rather than give hefty minutes to three former first-round picks management previously considered key components of the franchise's rebuild. The future mattered less than the need to keep above a .500 record with Wall back.

From the moment the Wizards traded for Emeka Okafor and Ariza, a reduced function seemed inevitable for the youthful trio. Once Martell Webster proved health was a non-issue, even more so. With those three vets plus Nene and Kevin Seraphin, at most one other spot up front existed on a per game basis, though Wittman tightened his rotation once the team started winning regularly.

The team's owner recently acknowledged the logjam affecting the frequency in which Booker, Singleton and Vesely played.

Regular contributors A.J. Price, Webster and Garrett Temple will become free agents along with Cartier Martin, Jason Collins and Leandro Barbosa.

Arguments exist for keeping or dumping any of the three young forwards.

Booker has missed 82 games during his three seasons. If there was a guarantee that the former Clemson ironman could return to his healthy ways, his leaping ways makes for the best counterpunch to the more grounded trio of Nene, Okafor and Seraphin.

If Singleton's outside shot went from teasing to terrific, his ability to defend stretch-four's and wings would make him a valuable utility option. 

The window may have already closed on Vesely living up to his lofty draft status. Still, if his confidence ever sniffed levels of optimism Washington showed him with that early selection, the lengthy Czech could still have a lengthy NBA career. It's also possible such a scenario will only play out in another city.

Based on how Wittman used the three and combined with their redundant talents, it should stun nobody if at least one of them is playing in another city next season. Truthfully, it should only surprise if all are back. The trick will be determining who stays and who goes.