The best player on the Wizards’ roster, three-time All-Star John Wall, knows what he wants to see happen when free agency opens Friday. He has his eye on addressing two major voids.
“You got to have a lockdown defender on the wing or something,” Wall told CSNmidatlantic.com over the weekend. “You got to have a big man that can protect this paint and block shots.”
In 2013-14, they relied on Trevor Ariza. He was their best one-on-one defender and wreaked havoc with his length and instincts defending on the weak side. Ariza left after his contract ran out, was replaced by Paul Pierce and the Wizards were just as successful.
In 2015-16, however, the wheels fell off of what had been a top 10 scoring defense three years in a row.
Pierce certainly wasn’t the defender that Ariza had been but the team defense was good enough to compensate.
Otto Porter, who is entering his fourth season, was the starting small forward for the first time but was often overpowered. Rookie Kelly Oubre has the potential to be Ariza-like but it’s hard to project his growth because then-coach Randy Wittman stunted his growth by parking him on the bench for long stretches.
As for the lack of a rim protector, that has long been a weakness. Marcin Gortat isn’t Hassan Whiteside in the paint. But there weren't any shot-blocking options from the bench for the last three years, either, with Drew Gooden, Kevin Seraphin, Nene and DeJuan Blair.
Three-and-D wing players will cost more. Rim protectors, which is what Bismack Biyombo was for the Toronto Raptors this past season ($2.1 million), are usually much cheaper. Though they quickly can skyrocket to $17 million range, the expectation for Biyombo as a free agent, if they're not locked in long-term.
“I think we definitely need somebody that’s a rim protector for us, to rebound the ball and doesn’t need too many touches. Just setting screens and rolling and protecting our paint, catch the lobs, we need a guy like that to keep both units going," Wall said. "Marcin is cool with our first unit. The second unit, we got to keep it going a certain way. We got to get out bench deeper. That’s going to be the key for us. Sometimes the starters can’t win the game. Sometimes the bench is going to have to win it.”