If you were ever wondering what the process was for how team previews get assigned, it’s essentially a modern day duel to the death, but digital with way less death and way more clicking. But for the most part, we do get some say on which teams we cover, which for me is a strange thing to admit as I’ve now covered the Bulls, Rockets and now the Wizards. I’ve begun to question my very core ethos… am I masochist? Do I love to suffer from watching lost causes and rebuilding projects? Granted, the Bulls are kinda breaking out of their shell, Ninja Turtles metaphor for all the senior citizens out there, but there’s no denying that being a fan of the Rockets and Wizards franchises has its challenges. And while the Rockets have committed to a full rebuild and have essentially forfeited the next few seasons in order to quickly regenerate their team, the Wizards have chosen the meandering method (Or how I make love). With the re-signing of Bradley Beal, the Wizards look to be competitive for some weeks before returning to their middle-of-the-ground wasteland. The real question is, how many weeks and how much meh-basketball will be generated in that span? Enticing, I know!
Record: 35-47, 12th Seed.
What can you say about the Wizards’ season last year? Well, not much. They started off the first month above average and then gradually sputtered into a 35-47 regular season record. As alluded to above, much has been griped about locally with the Wizards’ strategy of remaining competitive while retooling to take the next step, but one of the key ingredients to this strategy is, you know, remaining competitive. There are many ways to build a contender, and the Rockets will remain a perfect foil for what the Wizards have tactically chosen as their process. But like any other recent “process” rebuilds in the NBA, time will be the true test, and to the Wizards credit, the roster will be a bit different heading into the 2022-23 season…
Projected Depth Chart
PG: Monte Morris, Delon Wright
SG: Bradley Beal, Johnny Davis
SF: Kyle Kuzma, Will Barton
PF: Kristaps Porzingis, Taj Gibson
C: Daniel Gafford, Vernon Carey Jr.
Missing the postseason the past four seasons, sans 2021 (losing to the 76ers in the first round 1-4), the Wizards hope to improve enough to once again feel what it is to lose in the first round. But can they even get there? Well, in terms of last year’s ups-and-mostly-downs, Washington’s coach Wes Unseld Jr. will be entering his second season and utilizing a roster that’s changed a bit since last year. While the Wizards have retained long-time “flirting with star status” Bradley Beal with a supermax albatross, they also brought in the likes of Will Barton, Monte Morris, Taj Gibson and Delon Wright.
With Beal’s 2021-22 injury issues, one can expect better output this season no matter what after missing 40 games. While his average scoring decreased by nearly eight points when he did play, I’m willing to bet that was tied to his non-functioning wrist.
Besides the usual output from Beal, the Wizards will also get a full (within context) season from Kristaps Porzingis, added in a trade back in February. A former All-Star, Porzingis could not mesh with Luka Doncic on the Mavericks, so it remains to be seen how he truly fits in with Beal. Yet to play a single game together, Porzingis did provide a 22/9/3 split with 1.5 blocks a game in his 17 games with Washington. There have been worse 1-2 punches that have made the playoffs, that’s for sure.
Draft Spotlight: Another interesting player is the 10th overall pick from the 2022 draft in Johnny Davis. Named Big Ten Player of the Year, scouts have noted that he has what it takes to contribute now, averaging nearly 20 points with 8 rebounds and 2 assists as a sophomore with Wisconsin.
Projected Record: 42-40, 7th Seed, Play-In.
For what it’s worth, I do find it quite difficult on where to place the Wizards. On one hand, it’s easy to see how they can improve with just a plain healthy Beal and a full season from Porzingis. The interesting role players and young talent also leave a positive impression. But at the end of the day, I could still see the Wizards fall into mediocrity, because for all the talent, Beal still remains an enigma in terms of taking the next step and carrying a team like a true anchored star can. So I’ll play the absolute middle with my projection and next year we can ask the same questions… round and round it goes, amirite?
Jay is a longtime Razzball everything who consumes an egregious amount of Makers Mark as a vehicle to gain wisdom and augment his natural glow. Living in the D.C. area, he also likes spending time visiting the local parks and feeding lettuce to any turtles he encounters, including Mitch McConnell. You can follow him on Twitter @jaywrong.