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Examining the Wizards' evolving depth chart


Examining the Wizards' evolving depth chart

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 forwardOtto Porter, Jared Dudley, Kelly Oubre Jr.

CenterMarcin Gortat

Off guardBradley Beal, Gary Neal, Martell Webster

Point guardJohn 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. 


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Mystics star Kristi Toliver excited to officially join Wizards coaching staff

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Mystics star Kristi Toliver excited to officially join Wizards coaching staff

After months of serving a variety of roles for the organization, Kristi Toliver now has an official title with the Washington Wizards. The Mystics star has joined Scott Brooks' staff as an assistant coach and assistant for player development.

Toliver, 31, will remain a member of the Mystics, who play their season during the summer. The lack of overlap will allow her to focus much of her time on the Wizards and what she hopes becomes a long and successful coaching career.

She chose joining the Wizards over continuing to play professionally this year overseas, an option many WNBA players use in the offseason. But she has a coaching dream and happens to have caught on with the hometown team.

"This is the opportunity of a lifetime. When it came about, I wanted to be involved in any capacity that I could," Toliver said.

Toliver is the first active WNBA player to serve on an NBA bench and just the second woman after Becky Hammon, who is an assistant for the San Antonio Spurs. Toliver plans to reach out to Hammon after getting her phone number from Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird.

Toliver is honored to be in the same category with Hammon, whom she looked up to first as a player and now as a coach who has become a trailblazer in the profession.

"I know she's going to be somebody that I can ask questions to," Toliver said. "I will pick her brain about how she played and I will pick her brain about how she is coaching."

Hammon joined the Spurs' coaching staff in 2014 after years of helping the team out in other ways. Now that there are two female NBA assistants, the logical question is when one will become a head coach.

Wizards All-Star Bradley Beal can already attest to Toliver's impact and said there could be a female head coach "very soon."

"I wouldn't be surprised if it happened sooner rather than later," Beal said. "If you know the game, you know the game. Plain and simple."

Toliver has served as a coach in the Wizards' 5-on-5 scrimmages at practice. She has also been particularly helpful with ball-handling, which makes sense given she's the starting point guard for the Mystics. Toliver has helped a variety of Wizards players in dribbling drills including the big men like Jeff Green and Dwight Howard.

Coaching has required an adjustment for Toliver, who is used to having the ball in her hands running the offense. But just as being a player can help her as a coach, she expects to become a better player now seeing the game from a new perspective.

"I'd much rather be playing, I know that. But it's good to think the game in a different way and from a different point of view," she said.

Brooks has been effusive in his praise of Toliver ever since she began helping out in the Las Vegas Summer League in July. He invited her to join the staff over the phone shortly before the Summer League began and will admit he did not know at the time the relationship would get this far.

But over the summer, Brooks lost two assistants to other teams in Chad Iske and Sidney Lowe, paving the way for some movement on his staff. He promoted several positions from within and an opening was created for Toliver to come on board.

"She's a special talent. She's going to be moving through the ranks pretty quick," Brooks said.


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Mystics' Kristi Toliver joins Wizards coaching staff for 2018-19 season


Mystics' Kristi Toliver joins Wizards coaching staff for 2018-19 season

It's certainly not uncommon for professional athletes to make the transition into coaching following their playing days. We have seen more and more of this in recent years throughout sports, especially with younger coaches getting the chance to lead teams. 

What is uncommon is when a professional athlete begins their quest for life after playing while they're still playing. 

Washington Mystics veteran guard Kristi Toliver is joining the Wizards' coaching staff, the team announced Tuesday. 

The news comes after the 10-year WNBA pro got her feet wet on the Wizards' bench during Vegas Summer League play in July. 

Along with Elena Delle Donne, Toliver helped lead the Mystics to the 2018 WNBA Finals, before ultimately falling to the Seattle Storm. 

The 31-year-old was drafted third overall by Chicago in 2009 after leading her Maryland Terrapins to a national championship in 2006. 

Toliver will serve as an assistant coach and focus on player development for head coach Scott Brooks. 

Coach Brooks also welcomes Robert Pack and Ryan Richman to the front of the bench. Pack served as assistant coach under Brooks for two seasons during their Oklahoma City Thunder days while Richman led the team during summer leage play and is entering his fifth year in Washington. 

The Wizards open their 2018-19 regular season Thursday against the Miami Heat inside Capital One Arena. Tip-off is slated for 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.