The idea and partial execution of looking directly at the Wizards depth chart occurred shortly before the Washington Wizards' latest move, signing shooting guard Gary Neal. Before another transaction occurs, let's look at where the roster stands on Day 3 of NBA free agency. Projected starters are in italics. Note that signings and trades are not official until July 9:
As a reminder, entering the offseason, the Wizards' four biggest needs included a stretch-4, wing depth, a reserve center and doing all of this without jeopardizing salary cap space for a run at free agent Kevin Durant in 2016.
Power forward: Nene, Kris Humphries, DeJuan Blair
Small forward: Otto Porter, Jared Dudley, Kelly Oubre Jr.
Center: Marcin Gortat
Off guard: Bradley Beal, Gary Neal, Martell Webster
Point guard: John Wall, Ramon Sessions, Garrett Temple
That's 13 players with two spots open.
- Trading for the 6-foot-7 Dudley gives the Wizards a perimeter shooting forward capable of playing the 4-spot. New Clipper Paul Pierce and free agent Drew Gooden filled that role last season.
- Oubre, Washington's first round pick, is the obvious headliner addition, but even the team acknowledges the athletic forward is a long-term project. Neal provides the roster with another wing shooter. The former Towson product is a career 38 percent shooter from beyond the arc. As a streaky offensive option, Neal can carry the second unit here and there (streaky goes both ways, of course, but the team won't be overly dependent on him game to game.) The Wizards can mix and match in the backcourt with Sessions, Neal and Garrett Temple. Webster's health and perimeter prowess makes him a total wild card in the equation.
- Dudley and Neal join Washington with one-year contracts, meaning 2016 cap space remains unchanged.
As for the remaining two spots:
- The backup center remains uncertain unless the team is insistent Nene plays the bulk of his minutes there. Regardless, the Wizards could use another big body to replace free agent Kevin Seraphin, especially considering Nene's injury history. Free agent forward David West isn't rim protector, but reports persist that Washington is aiming for the 34-year power forward. Gooden played center on occasion last season and would provide the offense with another deep shooting threat, but remains far from a true banger inside.
- Last season the Wizards left the 15th spot open until training camp, in case a rookie or free agent (Rasual Butler) proved worthy of rostering. Expect a similar plan this year unless a can't-pass option presents itself soon. Maryland guard and undrafted rookie Dez Wells, part of the Wizards summer league squad, is thought to have a strong shot at making the roster. Swingman Damion James, point guard Toure' Murry and second round draft pick Aaron White are also players to monitor during summer league. Pre-season injuries could swing the direction of the final roster spot.
- As we saw during the playoffs, rotations can change and they certainly do tighten. Depth gets you through the 82-game grind and maintains production when injuries occur. Here's a likely eight-man playoff rotation:
Starting five - Nene, Porter, Gortat, Beal, Wall
Next three - Dudley, Humphries/new big man, Sessions/ or Neal/Webster/Temple
For all the roster talk, just remember that the Wizards will go as far as Wall, Beal and good fortune take them.