Over the past few weeks, we at Today’s Fastbreak did a team-by-team breakdown of each NBA franchise’s fantasy prospects for the 2016-17 season. We’ll finish today with the Washington Wizards.
The Washington Wizards completely overhauled their bench this offseason, but fantasy basketball owners will still rely on the same mainstays in 2016-17, with one notable exception.
To replace Ramon Sessions and Garrett Temple, each of whom left in free agency, the Wizards brought in Trey Burke and Tomas Satoransky, respectively, to back up John Wall and Bradley Beal. Those two join holdovers Marcus Thornton and Jarell Eddie, although none of them pose any threat to Wall and Beal playing a huge number of minutes each night.
In the frontcourt, Washington moved on from Nene, opting instead to sign Ian Mahinmi to a mammoth four-year, $64 million deal to provide quality depth behind incumbent starter Marcin Gortat. The Wizards also inked Andrew Nicholson to a four-year, $26 million contract and gave Jason Smith a three-year deal worth north of $15 million, fortifying the 4 spot behind trade-deadline acquisition Markieff Morris.
Let’s take a look at which Wizards players you should target with early-, mid- and late-round picks and who you should leave on the waiver wire. We’ll also highlight one breakout pick or a sleeper who’s likely to outperform his draft position, along with one bust who may end up disappointing this season.
John Wall, PG: John Wall is the biggest name to watch during training camp and the preseason, as he’s currently recovering from offseason surgery on both knees. In mid-August, he told reporters, “I’m just taking it day by day and just hopeful that I’m ready for the opening of the season,” which hardly inspires confidence for those looking to invest a second-round draft pick in him. Assuming he is ready for opening night, though, owners could be getting a top-10 value in Round 2, as the Kentucky product averaged a career-best 19.9 points, 10.2 assists, 4.9 rebounds, 1.9 steals, 1.5 triples and 0.8 blocks in 36.2 minutes per night, finishing as the 13th-ranked player in eight-category leagues. So long as he’s all systems go by the middle of preseason, owners should have no hesitation about grabbing him in the second round.
Bradley Beal, SG: Fresh off inking a five-year maximum extension, Bradley Beal will be one of the biggest high-risk, high-reward picks in Rounds 6 or 7. Last season, the Florida product averaged a career-best 17.4 points on 44.9 percent shooting, 3.4 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.9 triples and 1.0 steals in 31.1 minutes per night, but his recurring issues with stress reactions limited him to only 55 games. On a per-game basis, Beal finished the year as the 79th-ranked player in eight-category leagues, according to Basketball Monster, and he hinted to CSN Mid-Atlantic’s J. Michael that he might be subject to a minutes restriction for the remainder of his career. Beal could easily become a 20-point, two-trey, one-steal nightly threat, but risk-averse owners should steer clear at his draft-day price.
Marcin Gortat, C: After entering last season as a consensus eighth-round pick in 10-team leagues, Marcin Gortat smashed all reasonable expectations by finishing as the 35th-ranked player. The Polish Hammer averaged 13.5 points on a career-best 56.7 percent shooting, 9.9 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.3 blocks and 0.6 steals in 30.1 minutes per night, starting all but one of the 75 games in which he appeared.
While Nene will no longer accompany him in the Wizards’ frontcourt this season, he’ll instead have to contend with Ian Mahinmi, who signed a four-year, $64 million contract with Washington over the offseason. The Wizards presumably didn’t back up a Brinks truck’s worth of money to play Mahinmi sparingly, so Gortat could be in for a significant reduction of playing time, thus limiting his fantasy upside.
Otto Porter Jr., SF: Otto Porter was one of my favorite late-round breakout picks last season, as Paul Pierce’s departure opened the door for him to start at the 3. The Georgetown product didn’t disappoint, averaging a career-high 11.6 points on 47.3 percent shooting, 5.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.3 triples in 30.3 minutes per game to finish as the 68th-ranked player in eight-category leagues.
Porter enters the 2016-17 campaign with a stranglehold on the starting 3 gig once again, and barring drastic offseason improvement from Kelly Oubre, he has little competition lurking. Owners should draft Porter confidently in the eighth round of 10-team leagues, as another top-75 finish shouldn’t be much of a stretch.
Markieff Morris, PF: Given how he sulked his way out of Phoenix, Markieff Morris isn’t likely to generate much buzz leading up to draft day, perhaps creating an enormous opportunity for fantasy owners. In 2014-15, Morris finished as the 69th-ranked player in eight-category leagues on a per-game basis, according to Basketball Monster, but he plunged to 139th this past year after dogging it with the Suns through mid-February. Upon joining the Wizards, though, Morris averaged 12.4 points on 46.7 percent shooting, 5.9 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.9 triples and 0.9 steals in 26.4 minutes per night. He’ll have to stave off Jason Smith and Andrew Nicholson for playing time at the 4, but a bounce-back campaign could make him one of this year’s biggest late-round steals.
Ian Mahinmi, C: Ian Mahinmi entered the 2015-16 campaign completely off the fantasy radar, as Al Jefferson and Myles Turner figured to dominate minutes at the 5 for the Indiana Pacers. Once Jefferson and Turner went down with early-season injuries, though, Mahinmi took over the starting gig and never relinquished it, averaging 9.3 points on 58.9 percent shooting, 7.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.1 blocks and 0.9 steals in 25.6 minutes per night to finish as the 101th-ranked player in eight-category leagues. He’ll have trouble matching that production so long as Marcin Gortat remains in Washington, but it’s difficult to believe the Wizards handed him $16 million annually to stay parked on the bench. Another top-150 campaign isn’t out of the question, but owners shouldn’t reach for Mahinmi expecting last year’s production.
Trey Burke, PG
Tomas Satoransky, PG/SG
Jarell Eddie, SG
Marcus Thornton, SG
Sheldon McClellan, SG
Danuel House, SG/SF
Kelly Oubre Jr., SF
Jason Smith, PF
Andrew Nicholson, PF
Daniel Ochefu, PF/C
Sleeper: Markieff Morris
Bust: Marcin Gortat
Other team breakdowns
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