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 Wizards have struggled with consistency at the power forward position for the past couple years, relying on the likes of Nene Hilario, Kris Humphries, Drew Gooden, and Jared Dudley. This inconsistent play led the Wizards to make a move at the trade deadline last season, acquiring Markieff Morris from the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Kris Humphries, Dejuan Blair, and the 13th pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. Morris’s acquisition made a sizable impact on the Wizards down the stretch; he averaged 12.4 points and 5.9 rebounds per game and gave them the consistent play they needed at the position. Markieff Morris and Drew Gooden are still under contract for next season but the Wizards will likely release Gooden and if they do so before July 15th then his $3,547,000 salary will be non-guaranteed. This move would leave the Wizards with Morris as the lone power forward on the roster and while he figures to be the starting power forward next season, the Wizards should be looking for a backup with a complementary skill set and a cheap reserve option to round out their depth chart.
1. Dwight Powell – RFA – 6’11” – 24 years old – 16.87 PER
Many have indicated that the Wizards need to sign a young big man with rebounding and shot blocking skill that they can develop for the future. Dwight Powell is a player who perfectly fits that description and is coming off a productive season where he averaged 14.5 points and 9.9 rebounds per 36 minutes. Powell is an athletic, lengthy big man who likes to run the floor and play above the rim. His skill set would pair well with the faster paced offense the Wizards have been running and his ability to play and defend both power forward and center would give the Wizards flexibility with their lineup. Powell’s addition would give the Wizards a young, developing, versatile big man who can immediately contribute by running the floor, rebounding, and playing solid defense.
2. Mirza Teletovic – UFA – 6’9″ – 30 years old – 16.27 PER
The Wizards have long been linked to Ryan Anderson as the solution to their stretch four woes, however, Anderson is set to fetch a hefty contract and at this point the Wizards should’t be shelling out that kind of cash to a one way player at a position with an established starter. Instead the Wizards should consider Anderson’s counterpart Mirza Teletovic who is a cheaper option that provides the same services Anderson provides: scoring and three-point shooting. When comparing their per 36 numbers there is a negligible difference between the two players; Teletovic averages 20.6 points while shooting 39.3% from three while Anderson averages 20.2 points while shooting 36.6% from three. Bringing in Teletovic would give the Wizards a true stretch four that could give their second unit a serious scoring boost while also providing cap flexibility that the Wizards could use to shore up other areas of their roster.
3. Terrence Jones – RFA – 6’9″ – 24 years old – 13.56 PER
Terrence Jones has had a tumultuous four year career in the NBA thus far, going from a promising young big in his first two seasons to an injury plagued disappointment in his past two seasons. At his best Jones is an athletic energy big who is a skilled offensive player and great rebounder while at his worst he is inefficient on the offensive end and a liability on the defensive end. Despite his inconsistency, Jones has all the physical tools needed to succeed in the NBA and would benefit from leaving the disaster that is the Houston Rockets organization. Signing Jones would be a risk for the Wizards but he is a young, talented player and Scott Brooks has a reputation for getting the best out of his young players. Ultimately, if Jones is able to find some consistency and Brooks can find a way tap into Jones’s potential then he could be the one of the biggest steals of NBA free agency.
4. Thomas Robinson – UFA – 6’10” – 25 years old – 14.54 PER
The Wizards have been linked to Thomas Robinson since he decided to forgo his senior season at Kansas and declare for the 2012 NBA Draft. At the time many believed the Wizards would choose Robinson with the 3rd overall pick in the draft but the Wizards went a different direction and chose Bradley Beal (good choice Ernie). Robinson ended up being selected with the 5th overall pick by the Sacramento Kings and has struggled to find his footing in the NBA ever since. Robinson has been on 5 different teams in 4 NBA seasons and has failed to live up to the potential he showed in his college career. His numbers won’t blow you away, with career averages of 4.9 points and 4.8 rebounds per game, but Robinson is coming off an effective season in which he played in 71 games and averaged 12.1 points and 14.1 rebounds per 36 minutes. The Wizards should consider taking a flier on Robinson as he is a young, cheap power forward option whose energy and rebounding would benefit a team that ranked 26th in rebounding last season.
5. Darrell Arthur – UFA – 6’9″ – 28 years old – 12.55 PER
Darrell Arthur recently opted out of his 2 year, $5,754,630 deal with the Denver Nuggets making the versatile forward an unrestricted free agent. According to recent reports, the Wizards have interest in signing the 7 year veteran forward and have identified him as one of their prime targets in free agency. Arthur is not one of the biggest names on the market but he is a valuable role player who is coming off a solid year in which he averaged 7.5 points per game while shooting a career high 38.5% from three-point range. His newfound three-point stroke could make him a versatile offensive player off the bench while his veteran leadership and strong work ethic could have a positive influence on a relatively young Wizards locker room.
Markieff Morris seems to be entrenched as the starting power forward for the Wizards this upcoming season, having said that, the Wizards power forward position is still very much a work in progress. After the likely release of Drew Gooden the Wizards will have two roster spots to fill at the power forward position. The Wizards will need to target two types of players: stretch fours who can score and energy bigs who can rebound. Mirza Teletovic and Darrell Arthur comprise the former while Dwight Powell, Terrence Jones, and Thomas Robinson constitute the latter. The Wizards should choose one player from each of these two groups to create well rounded depth at the power forward position and maximize the versatility of their roster.