The Washington Wizards are on the uptick with John Wall and Bradley Beal as the faces of the organization. They’re a team that is poised to make a playoff run next season after seemingly finding the pieces to do so this season.
The Wizards used their third pick in this year’s draft to take Otto Porter, a move Wizards brass hopes will help keep them out of future draft lotteries. The Georgetown alum will bring a lot of things to the Wizards organization. He’s a defensive stud and has plenty of size for the small forward position, as well as being a great locker room guy with a broad skill set.
Bringing Porter in doesn’t mean that the Wizards should let forward Martell Webster walk in free agency. Webster had a career year last season with the Wizards. He averaged 11.8 points per game and shot a career high 42 percent from beyond the arch while taking 5.2 threes per game. He shot 44 percent from the field overall last season.
Otto Porter isn’t going to bring the same shooting touch that Webster does from either forward spot. He shot 42 percent from the college three spot last year, while taking only 3.3 per game. While that isn’t a bad number, Webster has a better shooting touch even in higher volume.
For a team that has struggled with spacing so often like the Wizards have, Webster’s three point shooting is pertinent. When he comes off of the floor, the Wizards three point percentage drops to 33.5 percent. When he’s on the floor, it rises all the way to 38.9 percent (per NBA.com’s stats database), a mark that would be good for third in the league behind the Miami Heat and Golden State Warriors.
Outside of Webster and Beal, the shooting comes few and far between for the Wizards. The only three players who hit above 37% of their threes are Webster, Bradley Beal and Cartier Martin.
Martin is too much of a liability on the defensive end to play heavy minutes and he doesn’t bring much versatility on the offensive end outside of his ability to hit threes. Webster has the ability to pinch the post and backdoor cut to the rim for dunks and layups. Take a look:
That versatility makes him a much better fit than Martin. The Wizards don’t have a viable replacement on hand and would likely struggle to find another shooter because of limited salary cap space.
Even if they went that route, there is no guarantee that the player will have the same locker room presence as Webster. He helped fuel a culture change in D.C. and that is just as valuable as his jump shot.
Webster was a key part to the Wizards best lineup as well. Of all lineups with at least 100 minutes played, the best was the combination of John Wall, Beal, Webster, Nene and Emeka Okafor. That lineup had a +/- of 24 with an offensive rating of 108.4 and a defensive rating of 84.4 in 18 games of play. Their offensive rating would’ve been a mark good enough for fourth in the league, while defensively they would have the best mark in the league by far.
Floor spacing for the Wizards is key and Webster brings exactly that. That lineup represents the potent mix of spacing, penetration and finishing in the paint, something not many teams in the league possess. If Webster walks, the Wizards may lose part of that element.
The Wizards have made it known that they would love to bring Webster back and the interest seems to be mutual. The only issue is that Webster may be worth more than what the Wizards can afford on the open market.
If Webster finds a suitor that deems him worth more than the mid-level exception, the Wizards are out of the running. They are already right on the salary cap with about $57 million on their payroll. Webster doesn’t have bird rights with the Wizards because he has only played with the organization for one year.
Using the mid-level exception on one player is never really preferred, but for Webster, an exception should be made. He fits the team’s personality and what they want to do going into the future on and off of the court. Signing him with the mid-level, if possible, is a no-brainer here and the Wizards will jump at the opportunity.
They’ll have cap to work with next season after Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor are off of the books. For a team that is trying to win right now, signing Webster is the correct move to make.