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Do the Washington Wizards Have Enough Backcourt Depth to Get By?

August 27th, 2014 at 1:01 PM
By Matt Graber

The Washington Wizards did a good job of fortifying their frontcourt depth this offseason. The additions of DeJuan Blair and Kris Humphries, combined with the returning Marcin Gortat, Nene, Drew Gooden and Kevin Seraphin, will give the Wizards a deep rotation and will provide injury insurance. Blair and Humphries aren't stars, but they're solid players who will give the Wizards the luxury of resting players if needed and using more matchup-based lineups. Unfortunately, the Wizards don't have that luxury when it comes to their backcourt. With the aging Andre Miller, the unproven Glen Rice Jr. and the un-impactful Garrett Temple serving as the only viable backups, the Wizards will have to rely heavily on the tandem of John Wall and Bradley Beal.

Wall and Beal both logged significant minutes last season, Wall in particular. According to ESPN.com, Wall's 36.3 MPG was the second highest among point guards last season behind Stephen Curry. Factor in that Wall played and started all 82 games and played 11 playoff games at 38.2 MPG, and he had one of the heaviest workloads in the NBA. Wall is only 23, and while he suffered a knee injury early in the 2012-2013 season, he doesn't have the injury history of someone like Derrick Rose, so his body seems able to handle a heavy workload. But the team's reliance on him could be their downfall in the event of a Wall injury. The 38 year old Miller, while still a savvy player, isn't someone you really want playing 30 plus minutes at this stage in his career, and his lack of speed and athleticism compared to Wall would remove a dimension of the Wizards' offense. Temple can play the point if needed, but he's not a true point guard and the team struggled when he logged heavy minutes at point during the 2012-2013 season. An injury to the starting point guard would be devastating to any team, but it would be particularly devastating to the Wizards.

Shooting guard doesn't look much better, especially with Martell Webster expected to miss a significant chunk of time with a back injury. Beal logged 34.7 minutes per game last season, eleventh among qualified shooting guards, with the number skyrocketing to 41.6 MPG in the playoffs. But he's missed games due to leg injuries, and if that happens again, Rice will be forced to step in and log some serious minutes. He looked great in the Summer League, finishing as MVP, but Summer League play isn't necessarily the best indicator of NBA success, and the young guard hasn't proven he can produce like that during the regular season.

The team's reliance on Wall and Beal also limits their variety to an extent. The duo play very well together, but they are really the team's only viable backcourt pairing. They don't have a strong bench option who can pair with Wall and/or Beal to create another uniquely dangerous duo, and they don't have a bench scorer who can come in and drop 12-15 points if needed, unless Rice's Summer League play really translates. If Wall and Beal stay healthy, the bench situation will be in decent shape, as Miller, Rice and Temple can be productive in small doses. But if either of their stars ends up missing a significant amount of time, there isn't a strong contingency in place, and it could end up killing their season.

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