The 2016 NBA Free Agency period is almost here and the Washington Wizards figure to be one of the most active teams in free agency this year due to the fact that they cleared their roster to chase their Kevin Durant pipe dream (#KD2DC). It has become apparently clear that Kevin Durant will not be coming home to win one for the District which leaves the Wizards with plenty of cap room to rebuild their threadbare roster and establish a new team culture under new head coach Scott Brooks.
In order to do so the Wizards will need to target multiple players at every position to fill out their roster. Therefore, I will be releasing articles the next five days chronicling the top 5 free agents the Wizards should target at each position; point guards June 27th, shooting guards June 28th, small forwards June 29th, power forwards June 30th, and centers July 1st.
The shooting guard position is perhaps the position that needs the most attention during the offseason due to the fact that Jarell Eddie, a reserve wing, is the only player under contract at the shooting guard position for the Wizards. This leaves the team in a position where they likely need to sign a starter and primary backup at the position. The Wizards are expected to try and retain incumbent starting shooting guard Bradley Beal by offering him a max deal, however, with his injury history the Wizards would be wise to add a quality player as his backup.
1. Bradley Beal – RFA – 6’5″ – 22 years old – 15.61 PER
Wizards fans should be very familiar with Bradley Beal at this point. The former 3rd overall pick has been John Wall’s running mate for the better part of four seasons and has performed well but has yet to navigate his way through an 82 game NBA season without missing time due to injuries. As mentioned above, the Wizards are expected to offer Beal a max contract worth $22 million a year to be their starting shooting guard for the foreseeable future. The question is: Is Bradley Beal worth the max? The general consensus opinion is that Beal IS worth the max due to his scoring ability, ability to facilitate the offense, and youth, signaling the presence of untapped potential. However, living up to his max deal is all contingent upon IF he is able to stay healthy. In the end, the Wizards will likely lock up Beal long term and odds are it will be the correct decision.
2. Courtney Lee – UFA – 6’5″ – 30 years old – 11.55 PER
Courtney Lee occupies a very specific and important role on an NBA roster: the 3-and-D specialist. In an NBA that is moving towards floor spacing and three-point shooting it is becoming increasingly important to have a three-point specialist on your roster that can also defend the perimeter. Courtney Lee has been providing this service since he broke into the league in 2008 and is one of the best 3-and-D options on the free agent market. Lee’s defensive chops would be a welcome addition to a Wizards team lacking a true lock down defender on the wing and his three-point ability would help to space the floor for the Wizards second unit.
3. Allen Crabbe – RFA – 6’6″ – 24 years old – 12.26 PER
Allen Crabbe may be difficult to pry from Portland (he is restricted so Portland can match any offer for Crabbe’s services) but that shouldn’t stop the Wizards from attempting to add the young wing to their roster. Crabbe broke out in his third NBA season, averaging 10.3 points per game and playing great individual and team defense. Right now Crabbe fits the mold of a 3-and-D player, however, he is young and has a natural ability to create his own shot indicating he has room to grow as a scorer. His signing would give the Wizards bench a solid scoring option and pairing Crabbe with Beal could create a fearsome duo for the Wizards at the shooting guard position for years to come.
4. P.J. Hairston – UFA – 6’6″ – 23 years old – 6.93 PER
P.J. Hairston is a curious case as he has always had the talent to succeed in basketball at any level but has failed to put it all together in his two year NBA career. The big bodied guard has the size to play and defend both wing positions, providing positional versatility that is becoming increasingly important with teams switching between traditional and small ball looks frequently. He also has a better shooting stroke than his field goal percentages would indicate, he has shot 29.5% from three in his NBA career but he has the potential to shoot in the high 30% from three-point range and his percentages should improve with better shot selection. Signing Hairston would present a risk for the Wizards as he has not lived up to his potential in the NBA, however, he is a young player with potential to develop and Scott Brooks seems like a coach who could get the best out of him.
5. Alan Anderson – UFA – 6’6″ – 33 years old – 9.19 PER
Alan Anderson had a season to forget in 2015-16 for the Washington Wizards. He was expected to come into the fold and immediately fill the veteran bench role that Paul Pierce had filled so well just a season ago. Anderson didn’t end up playing much as he injured his ankle and ended up missing the majority of the season because of it. Despite this, I believe that Anderson has something he can contribute to the Wizards this upcoming season: veteran leadership. With the Wizards looking to construct a younger roster they could use a few savvy veterans to mentor younger players and help lead the team into the future. Anderson’s poor season will likely drive down his price which will make him a cheap, reserve, 3-and-D shooting guard option for the Wizards if they decide to allocate their cap space elsewhere on the roster.
The Wizards will need to target shooting guards early and often in free agency as they will likely need to fill two of their roster spots with free agent off guards. Bradley Beal already figures to be the team’s starting shooting guard as the Wizards plan to offer him a max deal to keep him in Washington. It is less clear who the Wizards will target for the backup shooting guard position but the type of player they should target is a 3-and-D specialist. Lee, Crabbe, Hairston, and Anderson all fit the profile of a 3-and-D specialist and all would provide the Wizards bench with a spark on both ends of the floor.