Today the Wizards will lose yet another player as Al Thornton is expected to officially clear waivers after the team waived him earlier this week. He is expected to sign with the Golden State Warriors, the same team that defeated the Wizards last night 106-102. Meanwhile the team also made an addition this week, re-signing D-leaguer Mustafa Shakur to back-up John Wall at point guard.
We’ve mentioned before about the level of turnover that’s occurred this season, when you are a 15-45 team in the basement of the Eastern Conference that’s to be expected. Even owner Ted Leonsis knows that this rebuilding season means going through a lot of losses and I commend the team for sticking to their strategy of amassing picks and young talent to build upon instead of taking the Synder-esque approach of patching the team through expensive free agents.
The team tried that last year when they patched their aging core of Arenas/Butler/Jamison with Randy Foye and Mike Miller and we all know how that went: a 26-56 record. With 23 games left in the season it’s realistic that we could match that again without the expensive contract/lackluster performance of Gilbert Arenas or the injuries that have plagued Butler and Jamison this year. Who knows if Caron or Antwan would of been injured had they stayed with the Wiz, but the fact they are both pushing 30 doesn’t bode well in general.
Looking at the Wizard’s strategy of rebuilding through the draft and young talent, I took a look at the team to see who’s a part of winning the Wizard’s future. Who we should be watching the rest of the season, and who’s pretty much as good as gone come the end of April.
If it wasn’t for the Blake Show, Wall would be Rookie of the Year this year. The first overall pick has been everything we expected. He’s the face of the franchise, the one player the team will be building around.
This Year’s Breakouts
This year McGee has gained the attention of the fans all over with his flashy dunks in the All-Star game and is among the league leaders in blocks. However he still has trouble staying on the court and could benefit from a little more discipline. The third year out of Nevada-Reno is locked up for next season at $2.4 million with a $3.4 million qualifying offer the year after that. Right now he looks like a part of the Wizard’s future if he can continue to improve next season.
You’ll see him the the box score game after game with great point totals, but does he contribute anything beyond that? A 15.32 PER reveals he’s just league average offensively with weaknesses in defense and rebounding. Young will be a restricted free agent after this season and Washington will have to make a decision if Young is really part of the Wizard’s long-term plans or not.
Coming Back (Whether We Like It Or Not)
He’s been in the league for five years but this has been Blatche’s opportunity to shine now that the previous generation is gone. This past off-season he signed a three-year extension, meaning he’ll be in a Wizards uniform for the foreseeable future. That doesn’t mean he’s necessarily earned that salary however.
I remember reading Bill Simmon’s trade value column last year and seeing Gilbert Arenas topping the list of worst contracts in the league. This year Arenas still tops the list but he’s just above Lewis by $.2 million. Rashard will make $22 million next season. Ugh.
The other player we drafted in 2010 will be getting more playing time down the stretch as we figure him out.
Didn’t get a lot of playing time with Atlanta, already getting a longer look with Washington.
The jury on the project from French Guiana is still out but the bloggers like his development.
Fighting For A Spot
On his third team in three years, Jianlian will be a restricted free agent at the end of this season. Unless he shows a bit more, I don’t know if he’s worth the $5.4 million.
The team really likes him as a prospect. After signing him to two 10-day contracts this year he was signed to backup Wall for the last stretch of games. He’s a person to watch as a possible bench player/project for next year’s squad.
With the new additions of Crawford and Evans, Martin hasn’t seen the floor in the past few games, a bad sign of things to come for the future restricted free agent.
Restricted free agent after this season, hasn’t played a single minute in 2011. However his time between the team and the D-league this year means the Wizards are interested in his development.
Already Looking For Summer Housing
An expiring contract after this season, I don’t see why the Wizards would want a 32-year old bench player who is afraid of shooting in the paint.
Barring a ridiculous stretch of health and performance, the Josh Howard experiment was an injury-riddled failure. He’ll be a free-agent this summer and hasn’t done enough with Washington to prove to anybody that he deserves another year at 3 million.