With the NBA season approaching, Chase Hughes and Andrew Gillis dissect the biggest questions for the Wizards entering the 2021-22 season.
Today's question: How will the Wizards handle their depth on the wings?
CH: I think a little bit too much is being made about the lack of balance on the Wizards’ roster. One common point being made is that they have too many centers, for instance. But with Thomas Bryant coming back from an ACL injury, they are going to need three. Another popular opinion seems to be that they have too many wings.
Well, you could argue the one position in the NBA you can’t have too many options is wings. Given the size and skillset of the position, wing depth often translates to versatility and the ability to have interchangeable roles on both ends of the floor. Head coach Wes Unseld Jr. will just have to determine who can play together and who can’t.
There are also some minor adjustments the Wizards could make to alleviate the perceived logjam. If Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, for instance, settled into the backup two-guard role behind Bradley Beal, that would help. Injuries will also have their say, per usual, and that’s part of why the Wizards wanted to add depth.
I think, more generally, when they do have a healthy roster, it will be a situation where minutes aren’t guaranteed for everyone and some players could find themselves in and out of the rotation, even established veterans. How they handle that could be something to watch.
AG: General manager Tommy Sheppard’s plan entering this offseason was clear: Improved defense, and vast improvement in athleticism on the wings. The Wizards are certainly going to be able to put that to the test here in the next few weeks.
Sheppard made it a point to add players on the wing that can not only play defense and shoot the 3-ball, but play multiple positions on the floor as well. Which, in Unseld Jr.’s first season, should give him plenty of options to tinker throughout the first few weeks and months of the season. With so much changing, I think that’s a sound plan.
In fact, I would venture to say that any predictions about how lineups will look are already premature because so much is unknown about just which players can be on the floor at the same time.
The Wizards now have Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma and Rui Hachimura to play in defensive situations whenever needed. Corey Kispert should add production from beyond the 3-point line, as can Davis Bertans — though that particular group has notable defensive issues, to varying degrees. The key will be finding the right combinations, and at what point, to ensure an optimized group of five on the floor at all times.
I think the biggest thing for the Wizards is finding chemistry amongst so many new players. Once they figure that out, the rotations will be a lot easier to decipher.