Washington Wizards Team Previewby Garrett Brooks October 17, 2021 0 comments
The Washington Wizards underwent drastic changes during the offseason with the hopes that Bradley Beal will be around long-term. After finishing last year at just 34-38 it was clear the roster was going to need reconstruction. Beal has remained loyal to the organization that drafted him but the sense around the league is things could change quickly once he nears the breaking point.
This offseason became that much more crucial for the franchise. Not only did they need to add by subtraction they also needed to do so in a way that can be successful immediately around Beal. So, how did the Wizards do in reshaping their roster?
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While the Russell Westbrook trade will get most of the attention, and rightfully so, it is important to highlight the coaching move the Wizards made this offseason. They moved on from Scott Brooks in a move that was best for both parties. They replaced him with a promising first-time head coach at the NBA level in Wes Unseld Jr. He is going to connect with the players in Washington and help get the most out of them on a nightly basis.
Now, the roster overhaul. The Wizards lacked depth in a major way last season and they certainly added depth, in general, this offseason. The question is how will it all fit together. In the Westbrook to the Los Angeles Lakers trade, the Wizards got a number of valuable role players. Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will all play significant roles and help create a more balanced attack for the Wizards. Additionally, free-agent addition Spencer Dinwiddie is a solid offensive guard that fits a lot better next to Beal than Russ did. The Wizards also drafted wing Corey Kespert in the first round of the NBA Draft.
The Starting Five
PG – Spencer Dinwiddie
SG – Bradley Beal
PF – Rui Hachimura
C – Daniel Gafford
The Wizards have options for how they could build their starting five. The top priority should be improving defensively, though, and that is why KCP slots into the starting unit ahead of someone like Kuzma. He is a strong defender and a very good off-the-catch shooter which makes him the perfect fit in lineups featuring ball-dominant players such as Dinwiddie and Beal.
Hachimura and Gafford, both players that showed flashes toward the end of last season, round out the starting five. It’s an interesting unit but does come with reasonable questions that need to be answered. First off is Dinwiddie’s health. The next question is going to be can Hachimura and or Gafford become consistently good players instead of guys who only flash potential occasionally.
Due to the emphasis on defense within the starting lineup, the Wizards bench unit is a much more offensive-minded group. In fact, all of the players they will bring off the bench are known as offense first guys. We mentioned Kuzma and Harrell, additions from the Lakers. Harrell struggles defensively a good amount due to being undersized. Kuzma, on the other hand, is likely the best defender of the bench group. He is underrated on that side of the floor but in no way is he a game-changer defensively.
Joining them will be Davis Bertans, an elite shooter that brings little else to the court. The things he does bring are certainly not on the defensive end. Rookie Corey Kispert will factor in but he is another shooting specialist. Raul Neto will be the floor general for the group and at this point can be relied on to provide solid minutes as a reserve guard. This group will struggle on defense for obvious reasons but they are going to be able to score at a very high rate. Harrell is a great rim runner and he will be surrounded by knockdown shooters.
Deni Avdi will factor into the bench unit at some point but he is still recovering from last season’s injury. Expect the Wizards to mix their bench players in with starters a lot so they don’t have a group that can’t rebound and can’t get stops on the floor too much.
One Potential Move to Make
The Wizards are operating as a team with the shot clock about to expire. They need to hit on the right moves or they will be tearing things down sooner than later. That’s why they need to consider bringing in big man DeMarcus Cousins. The veteran is still in free agency.
Cousins likely won’t provide enough game-changing performances to push the WIzards over the top but he is worth the flier due to the skillset we know he possesses. It’s unlikely he performs to what his upside technically is but that upside is far above any other players that remain in the free-agent market. Bring in Boogie to add the most talented player possible and see how it works on the fly.
You’ll get a variety of answers if you ask multiple people what the expectations are for this Wizards team. The group doesn’t have the talent to say they should be expected to make the playoffs by a wide margin. Unfortunately, the Beal situation makes their expectations to make the playoffs and play a lot better than they did last year.
If they struggle early and can’t turn it around, expect to hear the Beal chatter sooner than later. It is yet to be seen if that chatter will actually be from his camp or it will be outside speculation. So far he has remained loyal to the franchise.
Season Prediction: 38-44 and make the Play in Tournament
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