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.
Small forward is perhaps the position that needs the least attention this offseason as the Wizards have two capable players under contract at the small forward position: Otto Porter Jr. and Kelly Oubre Jr. Otto Porter is coming off the best season of his young career in which he started 73 games, averaging 11.6 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. Kelly Oubre, conversely, played scarcely in his first professional season but in his time on the court he showed flashes of the immense potential the Wizards were hoping for when they traded the Hawks for his draft rights. In spite of this, the Wizards should target a versatile small forward in free agency to create depth and give head coach Scott Brooks the ability to create different looks with his lineups.
1. Nicolas Batum – UFA – 6’8″ – 27 years old – 15.69 PER
Nicolas Batum figures to be one of the most sought after free agents this offseason due to his versatile skill set that is perfectly tailored for today’s NBA. Batum is a basketball swiss army knife, in other words he can do it all; he can score, shoot, pass, handle the ball, and defend. His skill set, size, and length make him a versatile player who is able to play and defend positions 1-3 and also makes him a threat in all aspects of the game. Batum has been identified by some as a perfect fit for the Wizards roster due to his versatility and playmaking ability. His presence would be an immediate boon to a team lacking in the aforementioned areas and that should make him a top priority for the Wizards this offseason.
2. Chandler Parsons – UFA – 6’10” – 27 years old – 16.31 PER
Last season the Wizards changed their offensive identity by embracing the pace and space offense. One of the most important positions in this offensive system is the stretch four, or a three-point shooting power forward. After experimenting with Kris Humphries, Jared Dudley, and Markieff Morris as stretch fours, the Wizards could use a long term solution at the position. Chandler Parsons could fill this role if the Wizards are willing to pony up some cash to pay for Parsons max contract hopes. Parsons is currently recovering from season ending surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee, further adding to concerns about Parsons ability to stay healthy for a full NBA season. Despite his injury history Parsons is fully expected to receive a max or near-max contract this summer due to his ability to score and his elite shooting from behind the arc. Signing Parsons would be a risk for the Wizards not only because of his injuries but also because it would bump Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre down the depth chart, however, Parsons would be a great fit in the Wizards offense; his ability to play multiple positions and shoot the ball would make him an immediate contributor to the Wizards offense and if able to stay healthy he would be well worth the price paid.
3. James Ennis – RFA – 6’7″ – 25 years old – 17.84 PER
James Ennis isn’t a name that most NBA fans will recognize but the two year pro is a player that the Wizards should be looking at adding to their roster this offseason. The Long Beach State product hasn’t had much success at the NBA level thus far but in a brief 9 game stint with the Pelicans last season he showed a glimpse of what he can do in this league by averaging 15.9 points per game while shooting 48% from three-point range. While these numbers may not be sustainable, Ennis showed that he has the skills to be a quality contributor on an NBA roster; he has athleticism, bona fide three-point shooting ability, and plays quality defense, plus he is 25 years old so he has yet to reach his full potential. Ennis is a restricted free agent and the Pelicans have expressed a desire to retain his services which may make it difficult for the Wizards to sign him, however, the Wizards should consider making an offer for him to back up Porter and Oubre.
4. Jeff Green – UFA – 6’9″ – 29 years old – 13.04 PER
Jeff Green is everything modern NBA teams want, he is an uber-athletic forward with the length to play power forward and the skill set to play either wing position. The problem with Green is that he is inconsistent and he has never been able to fully make use of his natural talent. So why would the Wizards want him? Green is a proven scorer that could give the Wizards bench a boost and his positional versatility could allow for a variety of different looks as his minutes could be spread between three different positions. Green also has a history with Wizards head coach Scott Brooks, who coached Green while with Oklahoma City. With Brooks at the helm, Green had some of the most productive years of his 8 year career. Brooks’s familiarity with Green could help to bring the best out of Green and give the Wizards a versatile weapon off their bench.
5. Dorell Wright – UFA – 6’9″ – 30 years old – 13.42 PER
Dorell Wright has been around the league for 11 seasons and just recently returned to play for the Miami Heat after a brief stint in China playing for the Beikong Fly Dragons. Wright isn’t a player that will come in and be a game changer for your organization but he is a cheap wing option that could slot behind Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre. Wright is a lengthy forward who shoots the three well and can provide effective play in limited minutes but his real value would be in mentoring Porter and Oubre. Wright will likely command the veteran minimum which would allow the Wizards to focus on strengthening other parts of the roster while allowing their young wings to grow.
The Wizards small forward position is seemingly set for the future with Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre, however, there are several free agents at the position the Wizards should consider this offseason. This crop of free agent small forwards contains numerous players who provide the positional versatility that the Wizards need and that their current small forwards lack. Batum, Parsons, and Green are more expensive options but they would all add a new dimension to the Wizards roster. Ennis and Wright are cheaper options who would provide less impact but the former would provide depth and upside while the latter would provide veteran mentorship and cap flexibility. Whatever direction the Wizards go they are sure to get a player with versatility who can help their roster in one way or another.