In short, it’s not as bad as some skeptics might think
The Wizards’ offseason moves have left the team with a roster that seems ripe for a classic consolidation trade. They’re overstocked with mediocre power forwards and decent centers, and they’re still relatively weak on the wing.
The question, of course, is who to trade. That’s a question best answered during the season when the rotation is established and the team has had an opportunity to see the offseason development of younger players like Rui Hachimura, Deni Avdija, Daniel Gafford and Thomas Bryant.
Waiting until 10-15 games into the regular season doesn’t make for interesting offseason debate, however. So, I’ve taken a look at the roster and ranked each player based on what I think of their perceived value to other teams. In other words, when GM Tommy Sheppard Skypes with his counterpart and says, “What do you want for Player X?” who does that other GM want?
Factors affecting a player’s trade value include:
- Production — How good is he?
- Style of production — How does this player prefer to play and does it fit with his destination team?
- Contract — How much does he make? For how long?
- Age — Younger players theoretically have more potential. Older players typically decline.
- Position — Everyone wants wings and dynamic guards. Even productive centers are deemed less valuable by many NBA teams.
- Injury history
- Reputation and intangibles — What’s the general perception of the player? Is he considered a good guy and a hard worker? Does he play hard on both ends? Does he steer clear of off-court drama? Is he clutch? Does he have major holes in his game that make him difficult to keep on the floor in high leverage situations?
The Trade Values
- Bradley Beal, G — Duh. He’s 28 years old and is a formidable and versatile scorer. He has credentials — All-Star, third team All-NBA, selected for the Olympics (which he missed with a positive Covid test). Widely respected and desired by teams around the league. He’s The Guy teams want. The Wizards would likely get a haul of players and draft picks if they were willing to deal him. INTEREST FROM: Contenders
- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, G/F — After Beal, it gets tough to differentiate because of the mix of factors and the reality that many of the players are in that “about the same” category in terms of production. Namely, they’re about average. KCP is a 28-year old wing (he can credibly play SG and SF), who’s well-established as about average. Good shooter, solid defender, delivered for the Lakers in their 2020 championship run. Any contending team would want someone like him. INTEREST FROM: Contenders
- Kyle Kuzma, F — Decently productive 26-year old who can play either forward spot. Always goes hard, and he’s improved on defense…though not to the point where it’s actually a strength. Still, he was also part of that Lakers title team, and he’d likely have value to a contending team looking for versatile frontcourt help. Three years left on his deal at a reasonable $13 million per season. INTEREST FROM: Contenders
- Daniel Gafford, C — Surprisingly productive after joining the team via trade last season, Gafford is likely to begin the season as Washington’s starter in the middle. He needs to improve his conditioning and cut down on silly fouls, but his screens, rim-running, rebounding and athleticism in the middle make him plug-and-play for most teams. And he’s just 23 years old. And he’s still on his rookie contract for the next two seasons. INTEREST FROM: Contenders and Rebuilders
- Spencer Dinwiddie, G — His new contract makes him a bit overpaid, and he’s coming off a torn anterior cruciate ligament (he’s now torn the ligament in each knee), but he’s a big, aggressive, physical point guard who’s produced at an average-to-above-average level the past few seasons. INTEREST FROM: Contenders
- Davis Bertans, F — The contract is long and big (though the salary is down to $16 million this season), and he showed up to training camp late and out of shape and then had a down year marred with injury. But, teams crave shooting, and while every other part of his game is subpar, Bertans is still an elite shooter. I know some fans think of him as a negative asset because of the contract, but I suspect a contending team would be happy to take on the money to add the spacing his shooting provides. INTEREST FROM: Contenders
- Rui Hachimura, F — I doubt a contending team would have much interest in Hachimura unless he comes back this year with significantly improved shooting. His on-ball defense got better last season, though his off-ball defensive awareness remained atrocious. Offensively, he scores well inside, and he’s decent from the midrange, but his go-to moves are often slow, mechanical and predictable. I suspect he’s the kind of player who will interest teams more before they perform the kind of in-depth analysis they’d conduct before making a trade. INTEREST FROM: Rebuilders
- Montrezl Harrell, C — Harrell’s regular season production would merit him being higher on this list, but he’s undersized, has little offensive game away from the basket, and his poor defense gets exploited in the postseason. After getting benched in consecutive playoffs by two different teams, it’s hard to imagine a contending giving significant value for him. His midlevel contract expires after the season, which could inspire a short-term rental move. INTEREST FROM: Contenders
- Raul Neto, G — More of an undersized shooting guard than an undersized point guard, but Neto is a good shooter, solid playmaker and competitive defender (though not always effective because of his size) who could plug into virtually any backcourt rotation. He’s coming off the best season of his career (a shade below league average) and on a minimum contract, which makes him easy to trade. INTEREST FROM: Contenders
- Thomas Bryant, C — Offensively, Bryant is extraordinary. He hits shots from anywhere — elite finisher at-rim, knockdown three-point shooter, excellent from the midrange. He sets good screens, is a superb decision-maker in pick-and-roll situations, and an effective passer on the short roll. What diminishes his value: defense and that torn ACL. He could move up this list significantly if he returns to action as good as he left on offense and with even average defense. INTEREST FROM: Contenders and Rebuilders
- Corey Kispert, F/G — Hasn’t played a minute in the NBA, but he figures to be a terrific shooter, he’s on a rookie contract, and he’s still a blank enough slate that he could be added to a larger trade as an added value. INTEREST FROM: Value added in larger trade.
- Deni Avdija, F — The theory of Avdija — playmaking SF — is great, but his on-court performance last season showed considerable distance between theory and reality. He needs to improve every aspect of his game — shooting, ball handling, decision-making, defending without fouling. But, he’s also entering his age 21 season, and he’s on a rookie contract for another three seasons. INTEREST FROM: Rebuilders and Value added in larger trade.
- Aaron Holiday, G, Anthony Gill, F, Cassius Winston, G, Isaiah Todd, F — It’s unlikely any team would want one of these four for their current playing ability. It’s conceivable a team could take Todd on a developmental bet, but his trade value is probably more in the same vein as the other other three: helping match salary values in a larger trade.
The above list is thinking about desirability for a contending or semi-contending team. The list could look quite different for a lottery-bound team that’s “selling” a veteran at the deadline. For example, if the Detroit Pistons are out of contention next season and are offering Jerami Grant, they’d almost certainly have more interest in Hachimura and Avdija than Bertans or Neto.
Conversely, if the Milwaukee Bucks call looking for help, they’d surely have more interest in veterans like KCP, Kuzma, Harrell and Bertans.
Even with value lists varying from team to team, the above is my best guess at the value of the return each player would fetch in a trade. So, while a rebuilding team might be interested in acquiring Avdija, I suspect they’d be willing to give up less for him than a contending team would give up for Neto. My reasoning: Neto’s performance level is established and known while Avdija’s future value remains speculative.
Now comes the fun part: The Bullets Forever crew tells me all the reasons I’m completely wrong.
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