Hughes: If Jazz blow it up, Wizards could benefit greatly


The Washington Wizards enter this summer in need of defense, 3-point shooting and, at some point, could probably use another star to vault them into contention. There happens to be a team that may be able to help all of those causes.

The Utah Jazz lost to the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night, eliminating them from the playoffs with a disappointing first round exit from the NBA playoffs. Given that result, and other things that have transpired, many seem to believe it's over in Utah.

ESPN's Tim McMahon wrote about the team's "fragile future" following their season-ending loss. Tony Jones of the Athletic wrote there could be "huge changes" coming this offseason.

To whatever degree the Jazz do shake things up, it could work in the Wizards' favor. Utah's disappointment was rooted in years of similar results. They were still a good team, though, winning 49 games this year and just last season boasting the best regular season record in the league.

Even this season they were especially good in the areas the Wizards need help the most. The Jazz had the ninth-ranked defense and were No. 1 in offense largely because of their outside shooting. They ranked second in 3-pointers made per game (14.5) and 11th in percentage (36%).

The Wizards were 25th in defensive efficiency, 30th in threes made (10.5/g) and 26th in percentage (34.2%). They tried to address those issues last offseason, but still have plenty of room for improvement.


The Jazz, meanwhile, have a lot of 3-point shooters. Mike Conley Jr. shot 40.8%, Royce O'Neale shot 38.9% and former Wizards swingman Bojan Bogdanovic hit 38.7%. All three of them held those percentages with considerable volume.

Conley Jr. is a point guard, the Wizards' most pressing positional need, and has traditionally been a good defender, though he's now 34 years old. O'Neale is a versatile defensive wing. Both guys would check off multiple boxes for the Wizards.

And those are just the secondary pieces. The focus by most in the national media will be centered on All-Stars Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, who could be headed for Splitsville. Mitchell is a 3-time All-Star shooting guard and only 25 years old. Gobert is a 3-time defensive player of the year, 4-time All-NBA selection and turns 30 this summer.

Mitchell is one of the game's best young playmakers, while Gobert is one of the best defensive players of all-time. Both are arguably top-20 players in today's game.

Either one would represent a blockbuster acquisition and the Wizards could see reason to explore such a deal. They took a step back in the standings last season and now face a deeper Eastern Conference moving forward. If they want to become contenders soon, it may require some big thinking.

Getting Mitchell or Gobert would require a king's ransom and both would be relatively awkward fits with the Wizards' current roster. Mitchell plays the same position as Bradley Beal, whom the Wizards hope to re-sign this summer, while Gobert would overlap with Kristaps Porzingis. Perhaps in a Gobert deal, the Wizards would have to send Porzingis elsewhere.

Regardless, getting a top-20 player to go along with Beal would put the Wizards in a different stratosphere. Even if they made a smaller move, like to get Conley Jr. or O'Neale or even to bring back Bogdanovic, it could help their cause significantly.

If the Jazz do decide to blow things up, the first call they get might be from a 202 number.