5 Players Washington Wizards Are Most Likely to Target in a Potential Trade
It's shaping up to be a fun season for the Washington Wizards.
Despite the absence of two rotation staples in Bradley Beal and Martell Webster, the Wizards are 6-2 and sit just a half-game outside of first in the Eastern Conference.
But as well as Washington is playing, it's not too early to diagnose some weaknesses in the roster, the biggest being its lack of wing depth. The Wizards have just one proven, healthy wing right now in Paul Pierce. Obviously Beal and Webster will be back at some point, but it's hard to say how effective Webster in particular will be—back injuries have a tendency to slow players down.
Garrett Temple is playing great basketball, but he may be in over his head (more on that later). Washington is giving Rasual Butler real rotation minutes right now, and if that's still the case come the playoffs, it could be a problem.
Ideally, the Wizards would somehow snag a legitimate three-and-D wing, but teams aren't exactly looking to give those up. Still, there are some interesting players who could be available when the trade deadline rolls around, and you can expect Washington to take a hard look at many of them.
Denver Nuggets: Arron Afflalo
It's starting to look like the Denver Nuggets will be sellers at this year's trade deadline, and they have a glut of wing options for the Wizards to consider, starting with Arron Afflalo.
Giving up assets for a one-year rental is always tough to swallow, but the Eastern Conference has never been more open. If Washington thinks it has a real shot at the Finals, then it at least has to consider putting some feelers out on deals like this.
Afflalo is a minus defender at this point in his career, but he's so good and versatile offensively that the Wizards could live with his poor defense. Afflalo is a knockdown shooter (he hit 43 percent from deep last season), and he does just about everything offensively—run off of screens, create on high pick-and-rolls, post up, etc.
Washington won't be short on offensive options once Bradley Beal returns. But even so, Afflalo's ability to do a bit of everything on that end could reduce a lot of the strain on Paul Pierce and give the Wizards some killer small-ball lineups.
Washington has been hesitant to throw Pierce out at the 4 this season, per 82games.com, but it's a look they could use more as the year goes on. Something like a John Wall-Beal-Afflalo-Pierce-Nene lineup would be virtually unguardable (though it would admittedly take a beating defensively).
Afflalo's defensive issues make him a less than ideal fit, but his offensive talent could be huge for the Wizards.
Denver Nuggets: Randy Foye
Let's keep it rolling right along with another Denver wing.
Randy Foye isn't the all-around offensive threat that Arron Afflalo is, but he wouldn't be quite so difficult to pry away from Denver. Plus, his $3 million salary (per ShamSports) fits neatly into what remains of Trevor Ariza's trade exception.
Foye is a so-so defender at best, but he's also a terrific shooter. The Wizards will likely need another three-point specialist, especially if Martell Webster's injury becomes a real issue.
Washington currently ranks 18th in three-point shooting, but that's with Garrett Temple—a career 32 percent shooter—hitting 40.8 percent from deep. That's probably not sustainable.
Foye is lethal on catch-and-shoot threes, and the list of players who shoot with his combination of volume and accuracy isn't long. He could soak up some of Temple and Webster's minutes at the 2 or even play the point if Andre Miller's lack of range becomes an issue against certain defenses.
Milwaukee Bucks: Jared Dudley
Now here's a risky proposition. Dudley is owed $8.5 million over the next two years, per ShamSports, and he's played poorly ever since he was traded from the Phoenix Suns following the 2012-13 season.
Still, he's almost certainly the only player on the market who was at one point an elite (or close to it) three-and-D wing. The Wizards may not feel like taking on a reclamation project—let alone trading away valuable assets to acquire one—but a healthy Dudley would be awesome in Washington.
Dudley is still a solid defender, and he could potentially give the Wizards a watered-down version of what Trevor Ariza provided last season. Paul Pierce is the de facto Ariza replacement, but he's more of an on-ball creator than a corner specialist.
Historically, most of Dudley's three-pointers have come above the break. However, he's generally shot well from the corners, and he's a smart player who could make many of the same timing-based reads that Ariza relied on.
Dudley's health and recent history of ineffective play are concerning and probably enough to scare Washington away. He'd fit well though, and if he gets his shooting back on track in the coming months, it wouldn't be surprising to see contenders like the Wizards make a run at acquiring him.
New York Knicks: Iman Shumpert
The New York Knicks have teased at trading Iman Shumpert before, but this could be the year they finally pull the trigger. The Knicks declined to extend Shumpert over the offseason, and it wouldn't be at all surprising to see them rent him out to a contender at the trade deadline.
Prior to the season, Shumpert mentioned that he was excited about the new opportunities the triangle offense would bring, and he's shown why with his play. Shumpert is currently averaging 13.8 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game on 61 percent true shooting, including 53 percent shooting from deep.
Obviously that kind of marksmanship isn't sustainable, but even so, it's hard not to love how Shumpert is playing this season. He's never been a great ball-handler, and the triangle has allowed him to scrap a lot of off-the-dribble creation in favor of more cutting and catching the ball on the move.
The results have been terrific. Shumpert is getting to the rim more, drawing plenty of fouls and finishing at a terrific rate. He was assisted on just 27 percent of his two-point baskets last season. That number is up to 61 percent this year, by far the highest mark of his career.
Washington has plenty of shot-creators, which would allow Shumpert to focus on defending and wrecking the same kind of off-ball havoc that he has with the Knicks.
The real issue here is price—if he keeps playing like this, his value is going to skyrocket. Again, the Wizards aren't going to give up major pieces for a rental, even one as talented as Shumpert. Still, it's an idea worth exploring, especially if the Knicks look to move him later in the season.
Philadelphia 76ers: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute
The Philadelphia 76ers aren't exactly trying to win basketball games right now, which means that all but a handful of their players are very available. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute is not one of those protected players.
The Wizards have, at best, two plus wing defenders in Garrett Temple and Paul Pierce, and Pierce can no longer go full bore on that end for an entire game. Mbah a Moute may not bring much offensively, but he's still one of the league's better perimeter defenders. Even if the Wizards only used him situationally, he'd be a nice pickup.
Mbah a Moute is a natural 3, but he can guard both wing positions and a good chunk of 4s as well. Bigger forwards tend to push him around, but in general, he does a good job of holding his ground and not giving up deep post position.
There's even reason to believe that Mbah a Moute could fare decently on the offensive end with Washington.
For all his offensive deficiencies, he's a clever cutter, and the Wizards have the tools to cash in on that. Washington's bigs are willing passers, and Nene in particular has a knack for finding cutters from the high post.
Mbah a Moute will never be a good offensive player, but he could be close to a neutral presence as a Wizard, and that's all you can ask for.