Quick Links

Bench experience helped the Wizards. What about next season?


Bench experience helped the Wizards. What about next season?

There are no NBA awards for best overall bench. Even if such a thing existed, the Wizards' second unit wouldn't have made the cut.

Scoring punch lacked. No rim protector or drive-and-kick point guard existed. Other than second-year forward Otto Porter and center Kevin Seraphin, there wasn't much in the way of upside potential.

What Washington had was experience. That's another way of saying one of the oldest rosters in the league. But what this veteran presence lacked in highlight reel moments, it made up for in professionalism. It's not enough to put on the uniform each game. Each night, including those where it's possible the coach never looks your way, sometimes the key is simply being ready when it's your turn. 

Depending on what transpires during the offseason, that might element might not be in such abundance next season.

Drew Gooden, Rasual Butler and Will Bynum are free agents, along with Seraphin, who will likely sign elsewhere. Garrett Temple has a player option for next season.

No doubt most are focusing on what starting forward Paul Pierce does with his player option. But as we saw throughout the 2014-15 season, contributions from others up and down the roster helped Washington record its most wins since 1978-79.

"It's your experience. Being in situations, understanding the only way to be prepared to play is to be professional," Butler explained to reporters following the season. "This is our job. Like you guys go home, do your work, your due dilligence to make sure you're prepared. We have to do the same thing as basketball players. You want to be prepared when your team needs you."

Temple admirably filled the starting wing guard void when Bradley Beal missed early games with a wrist injury. Even when the minutes vanished, the lengthy defender could always be counted on to take on the toughest scorers. Temple played so little in Game 6 against Atlanta that the box score didn't credit him with a full minute of playing time and yet he sank two free throws in the waning seconds to keep hope alive.

Gooden, 33, played more minutes on opening night due to Nene's suspension then he did all of January. Yet when Kris Humphries suffered a groin injury in late February, Gooden stepped in without any sign of rust. At times, he was Washington's second best big man and certainly the best one when it came to stretching the floor with his shooting ability.

Butler, 36, barely made the team out of training camp and entered the season deep on the depth chart. Two months later, the swingman became an unlikely source for potent perimeter shooting. Even though his aim wavered as the season progressed, Butler shot 53 percent from deep in April as the Wizards tried finding some momentum before entering the playoffs.

Bynum, 32, arrived in late March after playing in China. He barely played any significant minutes - or at least his minutes were not in significant moments - until the playoff series against the Hawks. With John Wall sidelined, coach Randy Wittman turned to the instant-offense guard in Game 3 and 4. Bynum delivered 19 points in 27 minutes.

Expect Temple to opt-in, but the others are certainly no locks to return. Based on pure talent and potential, the Wizards can do better. They can certainly go younger. More professional, doubtful. 

Quick Links

Wizards working out Kentucky's Hamidou Diallo another sign the two sides might be a good fit

Wizards working out Kentucky's Hamidou Diallo another sign the two sides might be a good fit

The University of Kentucky was well-represented at the Wizards' first pre-draft workout on Tuesday at Capital One Arena, as All-Star point guard John Wall sat courtside to watch a young player who could join him next season in Washington.

The Wizards hosted Kentucky guard Hamidou Diallo just days after interviewing him at the NBA Combine in Chicago, Ill., another sign the 19-year-old is a legitimate option for their second round pick, set for 44th overall in next month's draft.

Diallo, who is originally from Queens, NY., said he is friends with Wall, as the two have crossed paths due to the Kentucky connection. 

"I feel like he knows what I'm capable of," Diallo said.

He now hopes the Wizards front office understands what he can do. Diallo is a defensive-minded wing who measured 6-foot-6 (with shoes) at the combine and with a 7-foot wingspan. He had the fifth-best max vertical leap at the combine, coming in at 40.5 inches. He was also the 12th-ranked player in the class of 2017 out of high school.

The measurables and pedigree are impressive, but Diallo's potential has yet to be realized. He didn't play a game despite attending Kentucky in the 2016-17 academic year. He tested the NBA Draft waters last summer before returning to Kentucky to average a modest 10.0 points and 3.6 rebounds.

Diallo has already worked out for the Chicago Bulls and will meet with plenty more teams, but is currently projected by most mock drafts to be a second round pick. This time he hired an agent and will definitely be making the leap.

"It feels good this year going through it with both feet in. It's been a great process," he said.

The Wizards like Diallo's defensive ability, his speed and awareness in the open floor and his potential to improve as a shooter. Diallo shot 33.8 percent from three on 2.1 attempts per game in the 2017-18 season.

"I hope to show my athleticism and how that plays a big part on the defensive end," Diallo said of his goals in pre-draft workouts.

"[The Wizards] are a team that wants to play fast and they have a fast point guard that needs players to keep up with him. That's what I tried to show in this workout, to show how fast I can play and show how composed I can play."

If the Wizards deem Diallo worth taking a chance on, he would provide a nice fit positionally. Though their second round pick could spend much of next season in the G-League, Diallo plays shooting guard and they have a need behind starter Bradley Beal. 

The Wizards see Tomas Satoransky as a possibility at backup shooting guard and Jodie Meeks is expected to return next season on a player option. But those guys were on the roster in 2017-18 and couldn't fill the void behind Beal, who logged more minutes than all but three players in the league. Meeks is also set to begin the 2018-19 season serving a suspension.

Diallo played at a big-time program and has the athleticism to compete at the NBA level early on. He could help a team improve long-term at guarding the perimeter, an area the Wizards have made strides in but still have a ways to go. That was seen in their playoff series against the Raptors when Toronto averaged 11.0 threes made per game and shot 41 percent.

Though it's early in the draft workout process, the Wizards have made it clear they are interested in Diallo.

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Quick Links

Wizards' second pre-draft workout to feature possible first-round pick, NCAA star

USA Today Sports Images

Wizards' second pre-draft workout to feature possible first-round pick, NCAA star

The Wizards will have some recognizable names at their second pre-draft workout on Wednesday including potential first round pick Aaron Holiday of UCLA, NBC Sports Washington has learned.

Here is the list with some notes on each player...

Aaron Holiday, guard, UCLA (6-1, 185)

The brother of two NBA players (Jrue and Justin), Holiday played three years at UCLA and averaged 20.3 points, 5.8 assists and 1.3 steals as a junior. He also shot 42.9 percent from three on 6.2 attempts per game. He registered a 6-8 wingspan at the NBA Combine.

Potential fit with Wizards: possible first round pick, likely won't be there in second round; would solidify backup point guard position

Devonte' Graham, guard, Kansas (6-2, 175)

The Big 12 player of the year, Graham averaged 17.3 points and 7.2 assists as a senior. He posted a 6-6 wingspan at the combine. His uncle played for the Cincinnati Reds in the 1990s.

Potential fit with Wizards: second round pick; would provide backup point guard depth

Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, forward, Kansas (6-8, 195)

A big-time three-point shooter, Mykhailiuk shot 44.4 percent from three on 6.6 attempts per game as a senior. He averaged 14.6 points and 3.9 rebounds.

Potential fit with Wizards: second round pick; could be a three-point threat off the bench

Moritz Wagner, center, Michigan (6-11, 241)

Originally from Germany, Wagner was a standout in the NCAA Tournament as the Wolverines went all the way to the final. He averaged 14.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.0 steals as a junior. He also shot 39.4 percent from three and measured at nearly 7-feet in shoes at the NBA Combine.

Potential fit with Wizards: second round pick; could develop into a capable stretch-five

Johnathan Williams, forward, Gonzaga (6-9, 225)

Williams began his career at Missouri before transferring. He averaged 13.4 points and 8.5 rebounds as a senior. 

Potential fit with Wizards: undrafted free agent; possible G-League forward

Zach Thomas, SF, Bucknell (6-7, 228)

Thomas was the Patriot League player of the year with averages of 20.5 points and 9.1 rebounds per game as a senior. He shot 40 percent from three for his college career.

Potential fit with Wizards: undrafted free agent; possible G-League forward

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!