Order of Importance: Ranking the Washington Wizards | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Order of Importance: Ranking the Washington Wizards

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Updated: October 8, 2016

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Those who follow the Wizards (and those who don’t) are well aware that this upcoming season could go in a number of wild and unanticipated directions. It’s your birthday: you could get a surprise party featuring all the greatest hits, or people might totally forget (1).

But who, exactly, is the most important Wizard—who’s the water, the bread, or the milk? Or, how would the top 12 players rank in order of importance? The question is obviously silly (2), and the answer might not be as easy as you think—importance is subjective! So to solve the riddle wrapped inside of an enigma wrapped inside of a riddle wrapped inside of who cares, we crowd-sourced 11 TAI staffers to do just that: rank this season’s Washington Wizards in order of importance, 1-to-12.

And now the results (3), starting with No. 12 (cumulative score noted in parentheses):

#12) Marcus Thornton (23)

I actually ranked Marcus Thornton at No. 7, because, if the “Bradley Beal, All-Star” thing doesn’t pan out, Thornton might be the most important, and the most reliable, back court player off the bench, which obviously doesn’t bode well for the Wizards. —Bartosz Bielecki

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#11) Jason Smith (26)

I ranked Smith dead last (12th), if anything because it seems appropriate for a veteran of eight NBA seasons and four teams who’s expected to be the dirty-work enforcer who can also pick-and-pop/hit 3-pointers to pull up the anchor. If Smith is in games, it will usually mean that someone else is hurt or in foul trouble and/or they need Smith to commit hard fouls, or because Washington need a late-game 3-pointer (or several), and Smith can do that while also rebound. So, yeah. —Kyle Weidie

#10) Andrew Nicholson (35)

Maybe Andrew Nicholson should be lower on this list. He is the best 3-point shooting front court player on a team that desperately needs one. —Adam Rubin

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#9) Trey Burke (45)

Trey Burke (ranked 11th on my list) really has a lot to prove in terms of how valuable he may be to this team, but he is also the mostly likely candidate to jump way up this list, if for some reason John Wall is not 100 percent to start the season (4). —Troy Haliburton

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#8) Tomas Satoransky (53)

Satoransky is a bit of a wild card and maybe also should be lower on this list. In theory, Washington should not be depending too much on contributions from a guy who has never played in the NBA. But Tomas is competing for both backup PG and SG, and his competition is less than inspiring (Trey Burke and Marcus Thornton). If Burke and Thornton play the same way they did last year, Satoransky will be called on to contribute right away. Washington has a checkered history with backup point guards and the position takes on added importance this year with John Wall’s health in question. Burke drops to the bottom third of this list because he can be easily replaced. If he doesn’t work out, Grunfeld has shown an ability and willingness to cycle through the backup PG rolodex when needed. —Adam Rubin

I ranked Tomas at No. 7 because I really believe he will surprise a lot of people this year, especially since he can play multiple positions. I actually had that Wave Papi kid ranked at No. 8. Lots of people like his game—me too—but don’t forget he’s just 20. I’m sure his time will come soon. —Lukas Kuba

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#7) Ian Mahinmi (63)

Without seeing Satoransky, Mahinmi, Nicholson, Burke, and Smith play as Wizards under Brooks’ scheme, it’s difficult to assign them importance. But Mahinmi was the major investment and has the most defined role (rim protector), so he tops my list of the new quintet. —Conor Dirks

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#6 ) Kelly Oubre (75)

Perhaps the most surprising pick I found myself making was Kelly Oubre as the fourth most important player. In #Wizards world, Oubre is a potential superstar in the making, which has perhaps led to less hand-wringing after losing out on Kevin Durant. Oubre demonstrated enough defensive chops last year to avoid the label of Nick Young 2.0, but his growth is essential to any sort of forward momentum for the ‘Zards. —Sean Fagan

Oubre is ranked sixth on my list. That may seem rather high for a player who was tattooed to the bench last season, but it takes a village for Ernie Grunfeld to construct a viable small forward rotation. After Porter, the only other SF in training camp is Danuel House. So, either Otto or Oubre must evolve into a legitimate starting small forward. —Adam Rubin

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#5) Markieff Morris (89)

I had Morris ranked fourth. He is the most versatile big man on the roster and will have to play huge minutes this season since Washington’s prized offseason acquisition (Mahinmi) cannot play alongside Gortat. There is a big drop off from Markieff to Andrew Nicholson or Jason Smith. Nicholson and Smith serve a purpose, but they are not difference makers. —Adam Rubin

The toughest call, for me, was between Kieff Morris and Otto Porter. All five starters (the 5-man lineup from spring) fell into the first five spots. If they don’t show up and show out, this team is f*cked anyway. The key guy for me (at No. 4) is Morris. I’ve never really rated Porter, but Morris has been talking about launching extra 3s and people seem to expect him to channel his athleticism into some sort of defensive shield in the front court. I’m not sure I buy either happening, but Morris at his best is better than anything Porter can come up with—pretty sure about that. —John Converse Townsend

I ranked Morris the third-most important Wizard on my list. After Wall and Beal, Morris might have the most talent on the roster. Oubre and Gortat are probably more so or just as talented but we generally know what to expect from Gortat and Oubre is still very young. Morris, however, doesn’t have many excuses: he just turned 27, he has five NBA seasons (and three college seasons) under his belt, and he finds himself in D.C. with a great opportunity to reset his career with a great pass-first point guard after things fell apart in Phoenix. The 2013-14 season was a banner year for Morris (18.4 PER, tied for 45th in the NBA), and if he can return to that form he could certainly be considered the third wheel after Wall and Beal. But it’s a big “if”—several within the Wizards organization, players and coaches, are already looking toward Morris to be a leader. What remains to be seen if he can do that by on-court example when, in the past, he’s been known to take himself out of plays on defense and jack up ill-advised long two-point jumpers. —Kyle Weidie

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#3 & #4) Otto Porter / Marcin Gortat (99, tied)

Otto is third. Not because he is the third best player, but because the team is razor thin at small forward and he is the presumed starter. This team needs someone to step up on the wing and Otto is the best option. —Adam Rubin

Otto would come third because the team did not address the small forward position this summer, which is an indicator to how much the expect/need from him. —Troy Haliburton

The development of Porter, especially on defense, should be the more important issue for the Wizards, rather than the ability of Gortat to sustain his level of performance, so I’ve ranked Otto at No. 3 this year and Gortat at No. 4. —Bartosz Bielecki

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#2) Bradley Beal (124)

“Most important” is a loaded description. If by “most important” you mean “If this player is healthy and exceeds performance expectations…,” Bradley Beal is the easy pick for No. 1 for me. If he plays 75-plus games and averages 18 points per game, the Wizards could very well reach 48 wins. If he has another 60-game season, the Wiz could easily miss the playoffs. —Bryan Frantz

This season lives or dies on whether Bradley Beal was worth all the money just shelled out for him or whether he fades under an avalanche of nasty looks from John Wall and the failure to raise his game. Without Beal showing some sort of growth, the Wizards are a 10-seed at best and have a higher basement than they do a ceiling. —Sean Fagan

Ranking Beal as the second most important Wizard when he’s never been the second best Wizard is a product of the necessity of Beal becoming a true sidekick to Wall. More than anything other than a Wall injury, Beal failing to take the next step for another season diminishes Washington’s chance of being anything more than a first-round away team in the playoffs. —Conor Dirks

#1) John Wall (127)

If “most important” means “If this player gets seriously injured the entire season is down the drain,” that player is obviously John Wall. Wall can carry a Beal-less team to 40-45 wins, depending on the play of his supporting cast. I’m not sure a Wall-less team with Beal as the primary playmaker and Trey Burke or Tomas Satoransky running point can win 40 games. That team might not even win 35 games. —Bryan Frantz

Everything with this team starts with Wall (except for the list of highest paid players). Beal is second. Sure, the team has shown it can tread water without Beal, but if Washington wants to be anything more than a middling .500 team, both Wall and Beal must play at an all-star level. —Adam Rubin

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Final Comments:

  • There are tiers more than there are rankings. If healthy, Beal and Wall are in the first tier and are of equal importance because they will carry the team. Morris and Gortat are in the second tier because they would carry the team if Beal and Wall are injured. Oubre and Porter are in the third tier, because one needs to step up with the starters and the other needs to be a major bench contributor. In the fourth tier are Satoransky and Burke—one of them will have to step and either backup Wall or be an interim starter. Realistically, both players will be asked to contribute. To be perfectly frank, I don’t expect consistent impactful minutes from the remaining four players. —Rashad Mobley
  • If Wall or Beal go down for a long stretch of time, this team is lottery-bound again. Porter and Morris are keys for the Wizards to overachieve. Mahinmi has to anchor the defense and Gortat’s movement to the hoop is still an effective offensive weapon. Burke has to be able to run the second unit as the backup point guard. Oubre is still too raw and Satoranksy has to show ability to defend or make a jumper in the NBA. —Adam McGinnis
  • Bottom line: This season hinges on the Wizards developing their young talent—something they have proven pathologically unable to do in the past. Maybe Scott Brooks changes that but I for one wouldn’t place my money on that outcome. —Sean Fagan

Voting Notes:

  • Wall received the most first place votes (7) and Beal (4) received the rest. Beal received six second place votes to Wall’s three; each player received one “third-most important” vote, which was balanced out by Gortat receiving two second place votes.
  • Trey Burke had the widest range of any player, receiving one vote for fifth-most important Wizard, one vote for 12th-most important, and the rest of the votes spread out with the concentration mostly in the eighth and ninth spots.
  • After Burke, Satoransky and Morris had the widest range of placement with Tomas receiving one vote for fifth and one vote for 11th, and Markieff receiving two votes for third and one vote for other (all others falling in between).
  • Porter received the most votes (6) for third-most important Wizard; and he didn’t slip past sixth in the rankings (2 votes).
  • Oubre and Mahinmi each tied for most votes for sixth-most important (4) but that was the highest Mahinmi was ranked; Oubre received two votes for fourth and two votes for fifth.

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  1. Forgetting about birthdays: this has to be nonexistent these days, right? Save for folks living in Montana without the internet or something like that. Just ask Facebook, it puts birthdays on my calendar that I can’t delete.
  2. Silly, yes, but also fan fodder worthy? Look, you made it all the way here!
  3. Totals were calculated like so: a first place vote was multiplied by 12, a second place vote by 11, and so on … a 12th place vote was multiplied by one.
  4. Ed. Note: Trey Burke is starting at point in the first preseason game on Tuesday … because Wall will probably save the preseason for trying not to get injured, i.e., staying off the floor. Hopefully this means a nice little boost of confidence for Burke. -KW
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Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle lives in D.C. with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.