The Washington Wizards were not supposed to be major buyers at the trade deadline if they were buyers at all. Some fans and writers wanted them to stick to their guns and finish the season with the same roster.
Beal was the best player on the court tonight, but guess who performed in the clutch yet again, Russell Westbrook. No one wants to play the Washington Wizards with Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook in the playoffs. 8 W’s in a row‼️‼️ pic.twitter.com/aO9wATsOat
— J 🐳 (@RockTheBabyRuss) April 26, 2021
However, we all know how good this team is at holding their cards close to their side. In a three-team trade with the Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls, the Wizards sent out Troy Brown Jr. and Moritz Wagner in exchange for Daniel Gafford and Chandler Hutchinson just before the deadline.
When the trade went down, many people did not see it as a significant change for either side. Certainly not a game-changing pick like Aaron Gordon’s selection by the Denver Nuggets or Lou Williams’ selection by the Atlanta Hawks. This seemed to be more of a trade of two intriguing young prospects (Brown and Gafford) who would benefit from a change of scenery than a transfer that would push both of these teams over the top.
Are Washington Wizards Looking for Business?
The Washington Wizards are realizing that bringing in Daniel Gafford at the trade deadline provided them with products that they desperately needed.
The deal that took Gafford and Hutchison to Washington is a familiar one from the Tommy Sheppard era: the Wizards got two young, relatively inexpensive players on the outskirts of their current roster. They’re both having a second chance in Washington, D.C. Daniel Gafford is making the most of a new situation, and the Wizards are benefiting handsomely.
The immediate impact of Daniel Gafford
Gafford didn’t waste much time in thanking the Wizards for taking him to the nation’s capital. When Daniel Gafford plays this season, the Wizards are a perfect 10-1 (!!!). In 18.5 minutes of action with the Wizards, he has averaged 11.3 points, 6.2 assists, and 2.2 blocks in 11 games.
Given Gafford’s recent success with the Wizards, it’s difficult to understand why the Bulls let him go. Aside from his impressive personal statistics, Gafford’s contribution to the team’s previously dreadful defence has had a greater effect. Since acquiring Gafford, a team that was rated 26th in defensive rating at the trade deadline has risen to fourth. The Wizards have the 17th best defensive ranking in the league after a month of lockdown safety.
Daniel Gafford Is a Perfect Fit for the Wizards in Washington
Daniel Gafford’s seamless fit in the lineup is one of the reasons he made such an instant impact in Washington. Gafford is currently on the bench, but he has turned up the volume regardless of who he has been on the field with.
Russell Westbrook is the one player with whom Gafford has (nearly) great chemistry despite never having played together before. They always seem to be on the same page, as Gafford is always in the right place (i.e. near the rim) and Russ does an excellent job of finding him for a simple finish.
The lobs from Russ to Gafford have been breathtaking. It’s been incredible to watch a great passer like Russ run the floor with a high-leaping lob threat like Daniel Gafford.
Gafford has shown a remarkable ability to dive to the rim in addition to catching lobs. His dives and cuts still seem to be well-timed. He sets himself up in a good spot to either rebound a missed shot or receive a pass for a simple bucket even though he is not directly involved in the action.
Gafford is already averaging two blocks per game, but the fact that he does so in just 18 minutes per night makes it even more remarkable.