As Day 1 of free agency gets going, the Washington Wizards find themselves looking to find some bench depth to build on their already-impressive starting five.
While the Wizards boast a strong young core built around John Wall, Bradley Beal and the recently-drafted Otto Porter Jr., they still lack the kind of production off the bench that they’ll need to make a playoff push in the upcoming season.
With A.J. Price set to be a free agent and Washington’s core being so young, an opportunity presents itself for the Wizards to bring in an offensive-minded veteran guard that can run the floor when Wall and Beal need a rest. Alternatively, it gives coach Randy Wittman an additional scoring option he can turn to if just one of the starting guards needs a break. Having a veteran as compared to another young player will make the player’s transition into Wittman’s system much more smooth.
So, who in this yaer’s class fits the bill?
Feb 24, 2013; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Nate Robinson (2) attempts a dunk against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the first half at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
While he stands just an inch taller than I at 5’9, Robinson packs on offensive punch, and you don’t have to look farther than this past year’s playoffs to see it.
In 12 games with the Bulls this past postseason, Robinson averaged 16.3 points per game, including a 27-point performance against the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Robinson is the perfect combination of youth and experience, still 28 years old but already with eight years in the league. Putting him in a three-guard rotation with Wall and Beal would set the Wizards up in a similar situation that the Knicks and Clippers have had in recent seasons, getting significant contributions from bench guards J.R. Smith and Jamal Crawford, respectively. If the Wizards want to have similar success to what the Knicks and Clippers have done, they should follow suit and acquire that third quality option so that the offense doesn’t lose it’s edge when a starter needs a breather.
Another reason Robinson should be of interest to the Wizards is because the majority of their offense is currently set to come from a starting backcourt that has a combined four seasons of experience in the league (Wall – 3 years, Beal – 1 year, Porter – rookie). To have a reliable bench option to turn to when one of the young guns is having a rough night would pay incredible dividends, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
Of course, Robinson’s small stature would potentially hurt the Wizards’ defense that did so well last season, but as long as he’s not put in a situation where he’s guarding a top talent in the final minutes of a close game (something that should be reserved for a starter in most scenarios anyway), his lack of defensive prowess shouldn’t be too detrimental to the Wizards’ performance on that side of the ball.
With the large contracts of Emeka Ofakor, Nene and Trevor Ariza and the potential mega-deal coming for John Wall, the Wizards don’t have the cap space for a Dwight Howard or a Josh Smith. But, they are on the verge of becoming one of the league’s most talented young teams, and are at the stage where they should be adding the pieces to get themselves over the hump. Robinson is a perfect fit that brings playoff experience (having played in the postseason three of the last four years), brings a proven scorer to last season’s least effective offense in the league, and is (seemingly) in the Wizards’ price range.
Bottom line, the Wizards cannot afford to put up 92 points per game again this season, and need to find a new backup point guard. It seems like Robinson covers fixes both of those problems.