What is the Wizards biggest issue heading into training camp?
This week SI.com took some time to take stock of the Wizards offseason and hand out a grade. (H/T to Wizards owner Ted Leonsis for tweeting out the link). Click through for the overall breakdown, but here is the summary:
Grade: B-minus. The Wizards are paddling in the middle of the river, content with the knowledge that the East’s top-tier teams are out of reach upstream while also smiling widely as the Celtics, Sixers and others get washed downstream by aging rosters or new management objectives. Wall’s and Beal’s growth should drive Washington’s improvement this season, and while the the front office didn’t make the surrounding parts overwhelmingly better, it did foster the stability needed for young, budding stars to blossom.
Letter evaluations on events that will only prove right or wrong in the future are rather subjective, but a B-minus seems fair. A touch low, but fair.
That said, here is how I would answer the question:
"I had the Wizards with a solid "B" simply for avoiding drama by moving quickly on re-signing Martell Webster and Garrett Temple, adding Eric Maynor and, yes, inking John Wall to a maximum extension. They could have justifiably waited the entire 2013-14 season before hammering out a new deal with their point guard. That would have led to gobs of articles, columns, blog posts and tweets about whether the team keeps Wall or whether Wall wants to stay. Why take on the distraction when the money would be no different next year and we know the organization wanted him back anyway, Oh, the Lakers would have entered the contract fray if the Wizards went four corners, better believe it.
"Now, the Wizards paid a hefty price to keep their top playmaker (Wall) and locker room cut up (Webster) around. Since neither was signed at a discount and there are some lingering questions (Wall is a zero-time All-Star with no playoff appearances; Webster's injured history), an "A" is off the table. The more subtle moves involving Temple and Maynor deserve praise even if they don't move the grade in any direction.
"As for the draft, Otto Porter struggled during Summer League and supposedly lacks crazy upside, I get it. Still, having watched the instinctive-rich forward play the past two years at Georgetown, I can't help but think about how his game reminds me of a certain commercial's tag line: He doesn't make the products you buy. He makes the products you buy better. The point is, star or not, Porter's smarts and ego-less game will make Wall, Bradley Beal and others better. Also, Glen Rice can score. When he realizes he doesn't need to shoot every time he touches the ball to prove that point and that playing defense is indeed what the cool kids do, Randy Wittman will play him.
"Now, that "B" grade came before the Wizards signed Al Harrington. Remember what three things the players and coaches wanted when the season ended? More scoring off the bench, a stretch-four, more veterans. Maybe Harrington should change his Twitter handle from CheddarCheese7 to ThreeForOne because that's what the roster got in one 6-foot-9 signing. One veteran minimum signing. Yep, pound for pound and assuming he's healthy, the Harrington move was the best of the offseason.
"I'm still curious to see what happens with the Trevor Booker, Chris Singleton, Jan Vesely trio. No way Washington can enter the season with the low-scoring energy forwards all back. That's not based on my own hoops sensibilities, but rather my observations of how Wittman used them last season. And by used I mean by sitting them often and rarely using them together even when injuries opened up time. Work something out here within reason, then maybe, maybe we can talk "A," but probably not. Giving them a final grade of B-plus after Harrington is rather high already."
If that was a little long-winded for you, here is my 140-character Twitter version:
"The Wizards essentially stuck w/ last year's core that improved lots late, wisely maxed Wall, picked Porter, made solid tweaks elsewhere. B+"