Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images
Wizards newcomers excited for opportunity in front of them
Bobby Portis, Jabari Parker, and Wes Johnson are ready to contribute right away
At the 2019 NBA trade deadline, the Wizards made two moves: acquiring Bobby Portis, Jabari Parker, and a 2023 second round pick from Chicago for Otto Porter Jr., as well as trading for Wes Johnson, which sent Markieff Morris and a 2023 second round pick to New Orleans.
Portis, Parker, and Johnson will all be available for their Wizards debuts on Friday night, with Portis and Parker facing off against their former team in the Bulls already on Saturday.
Portis, a former first round pick out of Arkansas, has averaged career highs of 14.1 points and 7.3 rebounds while shooting a career-high 37.5% from 3-point range and 78.0% from the free throw line in 22 games (six starts) with the Bulls this season. Listed at 6’11”, he’s known for playing hard, his rebounding, and his ability to score from all over the court. Portis joins an already versatile group of players who can play multiple positions, with an ability to play both the ‘4’ and the ‘5’ positions. He will likely play a lot of minutes with the Wizards, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Portis start down the stretch.
“I go out there and just try to give it 110% each and every game,” Portis said on Friday. “Go out there and try to play with a chip on my shoulder. Go out there and try to do whatever’s necessary for us to win.”
Portis met with head coach Scott Brooks about his role here, and was happy to hear what his new coach had to say.
“He [Coach Brooks] told me to be myself,” Portis explained. “I think that’s already a confidence booster right there that he’s giving me the utmost respect.”
“He’s a straight bucket, and that’s what I love so much about him,” Parker said of his former and now current teammate Portis. “He’s very efficient, very aggressive, and I know that he can help the team. He can help any team, particularly this team.”
Parker, a 6’8” forward out of Duke, has averaged 14.3 points, 6.2 rebounds (tying his career-high) and 2.2 assists in 39 games with the Bulls this season, posting five double-doubles while recording 20-plus points nine times. His best season as a pro came in 2016-17 with the Bucks when he averaged career-highs in points (20.1), rebounds (6.2) and assists (2.8) while shooting 49.0% from the field and 36.5% from 3-point range over 51 games.
In and out of the rotation in Chicago, Parker is happy to be given a new opportunity with the Wizards. Along with Portis and Johnson, Parker emphasized how important it is to be on a team competing for the playoffs. Parker figured he would be moved at the deadline, so finally knowing where he was headed was a huge sigh of relief. Known for his scoring and ability to create, Parker will be an important piece off the bench as the Wizards push for the postseason.
“I like the fit a lot,” Parker said. “Just being able to contribute with guys who’ve been playing and who focus on winning. Hopefully I can enhance that playoff run.”
“Just being engulfed with the whole community and culture is what I’m looking forward to. Some of the things I did in Milwaukee was just try to be a normal person – a resident – and that’s what I’m looking forward to doing is doing ordinary things, participating in political side, just being a part of the environment while I’m here.”
Johnson is also coming from a tough situation in New Orleans, with trade speculation surrounding Anthony Davis and the Pelicans in recent weeks. In his ninth season, Johnson has also been in and out of the rotation. He has averaged 3.7 points and 2.1 rebounds while shooting 38.0% from 3-point range in 26 games (13 starts). Johnson prides himself on the defensive end, using his play-hard attitude and athleticism to impact the game.
“My athleticism and my defense – just playing hard,” Johnson said of what he’ll bring to the table. “We got enough scorers, so just going in and doing that.”
All three newcomers are excited about the opportunity in front of them. The Wizards are ready to make a playoff push, and will need all three guys down the stretch. Led by Bradley Beal, the Wizards sit four games out of a postseason berth in the East. Parker and Johnson both mentioned that they will look to Beal’s leadership to help guide them to the playoffs.
“Relying on Brad’s leadership to help me focus in on what he needs from me, and I’m willing to do that,” Parker said.
“Over the years, his ability to score, how he can take over games,” Johnson added. “Being a part of it and actually being his teammate is going to be fun to play with.”