A solid backup point guard is very important to the success of an NBA team. Every team needs a reliable backup point guard to facilitate the offense in short spans of the game when momentum can shift at any moment. They need to be effective at keeping a game close, or conserving a lead. By utilizing the young core of talent the Wizards have collected, they hope to have many leads to protect in the upcoming season. The Wizards have a glaring deficiency at the backup point guard position that became even more obvious when John Wall missed playing time last year. Ideally, that desired player would be at the very least an average defender, and be able to facilitate the offense by knowing when to distribute and when to become a scorer. There are three names that have been linked to the Wizards…
Why: A solid distributor that can score. He showed a revived shooting touch from downtown last year. Has good size for the position. He averaged 6 assists on a very bad Orlando team. Udrih has had experience as a combo guard, which would provide the offense with some flexibility.
Why not: Mid-range game has declined with more ball-handling duties, and so has his overall efficiency on an annual basis. Udrih is a liability on defense.
JOHN LUCAS III
Why: When Derrick Rose was injured, Lucas III did a solid job while handling more responsibilities. Averaged 5.3 points per game last year as the backup in Toronto, but historically has shown the ability to have high scoring games. Quick on his feet and is fun to watch. He is a D.C. native and intangibly underrated.
Why not: Lucas III is not good at forcing turnovers or providing on-ball pressure and is only 5’11. Lucas III has a shoot-first mentality and is a below average facilitator. Shot the 3 as well as he shot from the rest of the field, which is a back-handed compliment since he shot only 38% from the field last year. Had scoring outbursts on a very bad offensive team that gave him a lot of free reign by default.
Why: Showed flashes of promise in Oklahoma City early in his career. Some may recall his performance down the stretch when Scotty Brooks benched Russell Westbrook in Maynor’s favor. The Thunder thrived in a big playoff game against the Mavericks with Maynor at the helm of the offense. Solid ball-handler and can run the pick-and-roll effectively. He is typically a good finisher inside.
Why not: Still recovering from an ACL injury from 2011-2012. Maynor is not good at creating his own shot on a consistent basis anymore and does not cash in much on off-ball scoring opportunities. Played his best ball when surrounded by elite talent and hasn’t shown he can run an offense with lesser talent. Maynor has been considered overrated lately as he has not shown the consistency that had previously defined his play in Oklahoma City. Most of his positives stem from years back that he hasn’t been able to duplicate recently.
What the Wizards should do:
The Wizards best course of action is to re-sign Martell Webster and sign someone who can marginally fill in as the fourth guard. C.J. Watson would have been a good option, but he will likely be signed by a playoff contender like the Indiana Pacers. If Mo Williams wasn’t demanding more playing time, he would also be a solid option. None of the previously mentioned backups are strong defensively, but when you are only looking to pay the bare minimum, you don’t have much of a choice. However, the three aforementioned players are the most likely to be courted by the Wizards. They all offer different value, and its up to Randy Wittman and Ernie Grunfeld to decide how they want to build the rest of this back court.
The drafting of Otto Porter helps. Martell Webster has shown an ability to play multiple positions and contribute in any way possible. Bradley Beal will get even better with playing time, as will John Wall. With the growing skill sets of the Wizards’ young guys, and the flexibility of their veterans, filling in the extra guard spot should be a matter of preference. If they want to put more ball-handling responsibilities in the hands of Beal/Webster and even Porter, they can look for the best spot-up shooting point guard on the market. If they want to utilize the shooting ability of their existing players, they might look for more of a distributor and sign another strong shooter for the bench. Porter and Beal project to become strong and reliable defenders, and Beal has already shown flashes of that. Having them in a lineup will alleviate some defensive responsibilities off of whoever they choose to be their backup point guard. Their options on the market are not that strong. However, young and emerging talent creates more flexibility in what you are looking for, and the Wizards haven’t had that in a while.