By the time the NBA went on hiatus in March, the Wizards had moved up to the No. 9 seed in the Eastern Conference and were 5.5 games back of Orlando for the No. 8 seed. While having a healthy John Wall may have put Washington into the playoff mix in the East, the star point guard admitted during a recent appearance on Matt Barnes’ and Stephen Jackson’s ‘All The Smoke’ podcast that the team will need some more upgrades to become a legit contender.
Asked about the Wizards’ priorities in free agency and the draft this offseason, Wall pointed to the small forward position and the bench as two areas he believes the club should be looking at.
“With me and Brad(ley Beal), who is a great cornerstone, and you have Rui (Hachimura) who is a rookie that’s in there, but I feel like we definitely need a three that’s a dog, that can knock down shots and compete and create for us,” Wall said, per Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. “And then, we’ve also got to build a bench, just being realistic.”
In recent years, Kelly Oubre and Otto Porter have handled small forward duties in Washington, but Oubre was dealt to Phoenix in December of 2018, and Porter was sent to Chicago less than two months later. Since then, the Wizards haven’t identified a permanent solution at the position. In 2019/20, second-year forwards Isaac Bonga and Troy Brown started the majority of the team’s games at the three.
While Bonga and especially Brown have the potential to become important contributors, they’re both just 20 years old and may not be ready to play major roles on a contending team. Speaking to Barnes and Jackson on their podcast, Wall made a similar point about some of the Wizards’ youngsters, though he didn’t specifically single out any teammates.
“I love the team we have now. We have some great pieces,” Wall said. “There are a lot of young guys getting an opportunity to play that (they) would probably not have gotten on other teams. But I feel like if you want to be one of those (contending) teams, you’ve got to have veteran guys around that are willing to understand their role.”
The Wizards aren’t expected to have cap room available this offseason to pursue the top veterans on the free agent market, but the team should have some mid-level exception money available. As Hughes notes, it sounds like Wall wouldn’t be opposed to the club using its spending power on win-now pieces.
“I feel like for a couple of years in the past, we just kept trying to rebuild through the draft like you do in a lot of other sports,” Wall said. “But in the (NBA), your window is kind of short. You don’t have time for that.”