One of the goals for the Washington Wizards coming into the 2018-2019 season was to get 50 wins. They ended the season with 50 losses. The disappointing season led to Wizards securing the sixth-best lottery odds for the 2019 NBA draft, with a 9% chance at the number one pick.
Big picture: Wizard’s star point guard John Wall will be out for most, if not all, of the 2019-2020 season with a torn Achilles. With the Wizards having little cap space to sign top free agents this summer, they will look to build through the draft.
The dream scenario: The best-case scenario for the Wizards is getting the No. 1 overall pick. The clear-cut best player in this draft is Zion Williamson. Williamson could be an instant star in the NBA and has the ability to instantly turn the direction of a slumping franchise around.
Zion Williamson breakdown:
- Williamson is a 6-foot-7, 284 pound forward from Spartanburg, South Carolina. He is only 18 years old.
- Last season at Duke, Williamson averaged 22.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.1 steals, and 1.8 blocks per game.
- Williamson has the body build of an NFL defensive end, but set Duke’s record in vertical leap with 40 inches and has the ability to dunk from the free throw line.
- Williamson was named ACC rookie of the year and ACC player of the year. He was also named Naismith college player of the year and AP player of the year.
What will the Wizards do this summer if the strike the jackpot and land Zion Williamson?
Who is under contract The Wizards currently have only five players under contract for the 2019-2020 season not including Williamson. Those five players — John Wall, Bradley Beal, Ian Mahinmi, Troy Brown, and Jordan McRae — take up nearly $90 million of the Wizards cap space. The projected salary cap for next season is $109 million.
The Howard situation: Dwight Howard barely saw the floor last season due to an injury.
- He has a player option of about $5.5 million.
- Howard picked up his option, giving him a spot on the Wizards next season.
The Parker option: Jabari Parker played very well for the Wizards last season, averaging 15 points and 7.2 rebounds after he got traded from the Bulls.
- Parker has a team option of $20 million for next season. While Parker played well, that is too steep of a price to pay for him.
- The Wizards will decline his team option making Parker a free agent.
- However, the Wizards will not let Parker walk. They will re-sign him to a two year, $18 million deal with a player option in year two.
Wizards’ free agents: Besides Jabari Parker, the Wizards have seven of their players from last season hitting free agency. Bobby Portis, Tomas Satoransky, Sam Dekker, Chasson Randle, and Thomas Bryant will all be restricted free agents meaning the Wizards can match an offer another team gives them. Trevor Ariza, and Jeff Green will be unrestricted free agents.
Who to re-sign:
- Sato: The Wizards must re-sign Tomas Satoransky or else they are without a point guard for next year. Satoransky took over for Wall when he got injured. He stepped up, averaging 9 points and 5 assists for the year. The Wizards will sign him to a four year, $25 million deal. He will continue to start in Wall’s place and will be a solid back up for when he returns.
- Bryant: Thomas Bryant was player who no one expected to shine last year. He has tons of energy, playing hard every time he is on the court. Bryant averaged 10 points per game and shot over 60% from the field last season. Bryant is a young player who will continue to develop and get better every season. The Wizards will sign Bryant to a 3-year, $17 million dollar deal.
The free agency plan: With the Wizards having little cap space this summer and John Wall out for most or all of the season, the Wizards will sit out of the big-name free agency market this year. Instead they will focus on developing their young players, Zion Williamson and Troy Brown.
Outlook: Zion Williamson will use the 2019-2020 season to get accustomed the the NBA and develop his game. By the summer of 2020, Zion should already be a star.
With Mahinmi and Howard off the books by next summer, the Wizards will have salary cap space to sign or trade for a star player. With John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Zion Williamson making a terrorizing big three, Washington will be a top team in the East for many years to come.