New Wizards reporter Candace Buckner was a guest on the CBS Sports Eye On Basketball Podcast earlier this week and shared her thoughts on the team’s slow, disappointing start.
Buckner shared that the dead weight dragging down the team has been its bench. Beyond Ian Mahimi still recovering from injury and not expected to play until later November, the remainder of the reserves have been unremarkable. Trey Burke has been bumped in the rotation for Tomas Satoransky, Kelly Oubre hasn’t fully tapped into his summer league success, and both Marcus Thornton and Jason Smith just haven’t shot well.
The bench’s most successful output – 24 points – came in a loss earlier this week to the Houston Rockets. With so much money tied up in the second unit, you’d just hope for more; however, as Buckner mentioned, the bench still lacks a true energizer.
What about the Starters?
In shifting gears to the Wizards’ starters, she drew attention to a few key areas. One issue is that the starting five includes two players who are, at best, “solid” in Otto Porter and Marcin Gortat. While Gortat is great in the pick and roll and diving to the basket, he’s not a world-beater. He’s also 32 years old and at his ceiling. Porter, Buckner surmises, likely didn’t have his contract extended on October 31st for some of the same reasons. He’s a good player, great “glue guy”, but more fit for a team that is already prepared to contend. Remember, Porter was a #3 overall pick, and while we knew his strengths coming out of college, the return the Wizards are getting from him possibly isn’t the best fit right now. Porter will be a restricted free agent at the close of this season.
Elsewhere in the starting five, Buckner and podcast host Mat Moore discussed Beal taking on more of an offensive load and how, long term, that will raise concerns about his durability.
So, Wait, Are You Saying . . .
Since the recording of the podcast, the Wizards fell to 1-5. They have a favorable matchup against a Celtics team missing two starters, but it’s hard to have faith in a team that can’t close games. Following the game against Boston, they have a brutal back-to-back matchups against the Cavaliers and surprising Bulls. It’s very conceivable that the Wizards finish this stretch, at best, 2-7.
Buckner threw out the term “rebuilding”. And while we may not want to face it this early, perhaps it’s time to give credence to the idea. She mentioned Washington possibly making a move with Gortat and either Porter or Oubre, but it’s difficult to see what value they’ll have. A best bet is that one of the young wings plays up his value before the trade deadline.