In his first draft as the de-facto GM and President of Basketball Operations, Tommy Sheppard was active for the Wizards. With the 9th overall pick, Washington selected power forward Rui Hachimura from Gonzaga. Then, the Wizards traded for the No. 42 selection in the second round, originally owned by the Philadelphia 76ers.
In the trade, Washington dealt cash considerations and also acquired veteran swingman Johnathan Simmons. With the 42nd overall pick, Sheppard and company selected forward Admiral Schofield from Tennessee. After the draft, the Wizards were quick to scoop up Virginia Tech PG Justin Robinson, whom the team signed to a multi-year deal with a guarantee. The Wizards also signed mid-major product Garrison Matthews to a two-way contract.
Between the Wizards first and second round selections, as well as the additions of Robinson and Matthews, the Wizards depth chart immediately looks different than it did before draft night. Let’s take a position-by-position look at where things stand heading into free agency.
Many were hoping UNC’s Coby White would fall to the Wizards at No. 9, but unfortunately he was taken by the Chicago Bulls two picks prior. Had White been on his way to Washington, it may have provided more clarity on what the Wizards plan to do at the point guard position, but the team is in a tricky spot here ahead of free agency.
John Wall is injured and may miss the entire 2019-20 season and with both Tomas Satoransky and Chasson Randle hitting the free agent market, the Wizards are looking for both a starting and backup point guard. It’s very possible that recently-signed Justin Robinson fills one of these roles, most likely as a rotational guy off the bench. Since they didn’t draft a PG, Washington will most likely look to bring back Satoransky, too, who’s a restricted FA. Depending on what kind of market he gagues, however, he could prove to be too costly for the Wizards to retain, meaning they’d look elsewhere on the free agent market. Randle is a candidate to be brought back, too, as he played fairly well in a tough spot last season. For the time being, Robinson is the only point guard under contract – not something anyone thought would be the case qat this point.
Depth chart: TBD – Justin Robinson – John Wall
Assuming the Wizards keep Bradley Beal and perhaps sign him to the three-year extension they reportedly desire, SG is the only position with definitive clarity heading into free agency. Beal is the surefire starter here and as the team’s best player, it’s important guys behind him and around him step up to help carry the load. Speaking of behind him, Jordan McRae is currently slotted to be the primary backup. The talented journeyman bounced back-and-forth between the Wizards and Go-Go last season but has proven to be a capable scoring presence when given the opportunity.
There’s also Tarik Phillip, whom the Wizards signed to a guranteed deal for 2019-20. Phillip played for West Virginia in 2017 and transitioned to hooping overseas after he went undrafted. Also in the mix is Jonathon Simmons, should the Wizards acquired last night. Simmons can play both the 2 & 3 but will likely slot in at the latter given Washington’s lack of depth at small forward. Washington also added UDFA Garrison Matthews from Lipscomb. Matthews was signed to two-way deal and the talented shooter could potentially see some minutes next season. The more likely scenario, however, is that he spends the majority of his time in the G-League, though it’ll be interesting to see what he does in summer league, assuming he plays.
Depth Chart: Bradley Beal – Jordan McRae – Tarik Phillip – Garrison Matthews (two-way)
Washington currently has no small forwards under contract for next season other than rising sophomore Troy Brown Jr. Personally, I’d like to see Brown get some run at point guard next year but based on what we’ve seen this far, head coach Scott Brooks seems reluctant to play him in that role. Thus, Brown is currently projected to start on the wing. If the Wizards bring back veteran Trevor Ariza or sign a more established wing in free agency, things could evidently change. However, the idea of Brown starting is an enticing one. When he was finally given the opportunity to play towards the end of last season, Brown showed a lot of growth and improved on both sides of the ball.
Also on the depth chart are Simmons, should the Wizards hang onto him, and Admiral Schofield, whom the Wizards drafted with the No. 42 overall pick last night. Schofield has some small-ball PF appeal given his toughness and body type, but is a more natural wing. Schofield is a great shooter and gritty defender, two qualities that could help him carve out a role for himself in the rotation next season.
Depth Chart: Troy Brown Jr. – Jonathon Simmons – Admiral Schofield
The Wizards PF depth chart is currently in limbo, even after drafting Rui Hachimura. Jeff Green, who started 44 games last season, is an unrestricted free agent. Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis could also be hitting the free agent market. Washington has reportedly expressed interest in retaining Portis but he’s likely to have several suitors on the open market. As a restricted free agent the Wizards can match an offer from an opposing team but would be best-served to use that money elsewhere, depending on the price tag Portis demands. As for Parker, the Wizards have until June 29th to decide whether or not to pick up his team option of $20 million for the 2019-20 season. Parker played well for the team last year but his cap hit is high. The likely scenario is Washington declines his option and attempts to bring Parker back on a short-term, more affordable deal.
All-in-all, the odds of all three of these guys coming back are essentially non-existent. The odds of even two of the three playing for Washington next season are so-so, and Sheppard definitely has a decision to make as to who to prioritize from the group. Washington’s depth chart at PF could certinaly look different in a few weeks but for the time being, Hachimura is projected to start. Schofield is a candidate to see playing time behind him, as is Aaron White. The Wizards drafted White in the second round of the 2015 draft and he’s played the past four year overseas. Recent reporting suggests Sheppard is interested in bringing him over to the NBA next season and if it comes to fruition, it’ll be interesting to see what impact he can make. White struggled in summer league several years ago.
Depth Chart: Rui Hachimura – TBD – Aaron White?
Dwight Howard opted-in to his player option for next season, but will he be on the team? Washington could potentially look to trade him or reach a buyout of sorts, as Howard doesn’t exactly fit the team’s timeline. So too is the case with Ian Mahinmi, whose rotted on the bench while making roughly $16 million per year over the past two seasons. Mahinmi is entering the final year of his deal, so the Wizards could reasonably just eat his salary (ouch) for one more season before parting ways. Unlike Mahinmi, however, Howard actually has on-court value, which increases the likelihood of him sticking around. Howard performed well in a limited sample size last season before suffering injury after nine games.
Howard’s injury opened the door for Thomas Bryant, who ran with the opportunity. Bryant was one of the few consistencies and bright spots from last season. The 21-year-old provided infectious energy and showed growth throughout the year. Bryant is hitting restricted free agency and could potentially demand somewhere between $8-10 million, but the Wizards will almost certainly bring him back regardless of the price tag.
Depth Chart: Dwight Howard – Ian Mahinmi – TBD