With the intense NBA offseason cooling down, there is time for reflection on what the Washington Wizards accomplished and a chance to look at the road ahead. For the next couple of weeks, CSNwashington.com Insider J. Michael and Wizards correspondent Ben Standig will examine various issues and answer questions as the Wizards move toward the 2015-16 campaign.
Simple question - What is your biggest concern with the roster at this point?
J. Michael: Depth at center behind Marcin Gortat. Granted, the NBA is a copycat league and the proliferation of small-ball teams has resulted in the devaluing of bigs on the open market. But you still need two who can play in the low post.
If Gortat gets injured, the only ones who can fill in behind him are DeJuan Blair, who isn’t starting quality, and Nene who is injury-prone and not thrilled about playing that deep under the basket.
With the roster as it is, Nene will be the first option. He played at that spot a lot in the playoffs when Gortat was pulled off the floor because he has a better mid-range game and the offense can run better with his reads on and off the ball.
All it takes over an 82-game season is one injury, to Gortat or Nene, and the Wizards will be in a tough spot. Of course, if their small-ball lineups produce the way they did in last season’s playoffs, maybe it’s not that big of a deal as long as any injury isn’t long-term. Bigs are no longer centerpieces but mostly accents to give rosters versatility.
Ben Standig: Seeing as J. Michael went with Gortat's backup, I'm tempted to go with the point guard options behind John Wall, but the big man scenario is indeed the bigger concern.
Even as teams go with smaller and smaller units, interior forces still have a place in the NBA and a large one at that. In the East this means names like Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah, Al Horford, Tristan Thompson, Andre Drummond, Brook Lopez, Hassan Whiteside, Nik Vucevic, Jahlil Okafor, Robin Lopez and others with Tim Duncan, DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Howard lurking on the NBA's other side. It requires brawn to tangle with these large men and the Polish Hammer has the physicality for such occasions.
Same goes for Nene, but he's apt to miss 10-25 games this season. Gortat is all kinds of durable, but he'll also turn 32 this season.
Anyway, the big Brazilian is the primary backup option in the current scenario. If we know both would play 75-plus games and remain healthy entering the playoffs, the Wizards would be all set. As it stands, they're one injury away from having just one true low post threat on both ends of the court.
Drew Gooden can bang, but he's no rim protector and his best shot location comes from deep. Kris Humphries is a mid-range guy and another non shot blocker. (Yes, you can find highlights of Humphries and Gooden swatting shots, but opponents aren't gong to fear attacking the paint.) DeJuan Blair is strictly an offensive option and one we can overlook for now.
Assuming Jared Dudley is healthy, the Wizards will have a strong stretch-4 and therefore can limit the amount of minutes they use two true bigs together. This is key, but so is recognizing the limited interior options should the need to play old school lineups arises.
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