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! Please, blog, may I have some more?
Ah yes, the Washington Wizards, my hometown team. Not by choice mind you, I get my melancholy injected right into my veins by rooting for other, more storied heart-breakers such as the Clippers or Rockets depending on the year, decade, entire existence. However, as this is the franchise that is closest to me in proximity, there’s hopefully something that can be gleaned. And since it’s getting closer and closer to Halloween, we should just go ahead and call this preview The Gleaning. Scary, right? You ain’t never seen me glean, son. Please, blog, may I have some more?
The big news last season for the Washington Wizards was the shuffle at the top, as Tommy Sheppard replaced team president Ernie Grunfeld as the key personnel decision maker for the team. Since then, Sheppard has been busy. In the 2019-2020 NBA season, the Wizards were involved in six trades and twelve signings. That doesn’t even include all the Exhibit 10 contracts they executed to get a look at young talent.
But no contract was bigger than Bradley Beal’s 2-year, $72 million extension. Getting Beal to extend his contract was the team’s top objective for the season and his enthusiastic acceptance was their best case scenario. It was a “lost” year for the Wizards, as John Wall never returned from a ruptured Achilles tendon, so making sure they secured Beal for the future was the only good potential outcome.
Sheppard did a great job nabbing a lot of “no risk” gambles. Every player he signed or traded for had high potential at dirt cheap cost. Jerome Robinson, Isaac Bonga, Admiral Schofield, Gary Payton II, and Moritz Wagner all fit that mold. None of them panned out to be a monster given the opportunity, but with another year of development, one of them may surprise us. Bonga is the most appealing to me because of his 6’8″ frame combined with the rumors he has the court vision to be a “point forward.” However, he only managed 2.2 assists per 36 minutes this past season. I’m quickly losing faith in NBA scouts. Please, blog, may I have some more?
The Wizards are a mess! On the court, off the court, and in the front office. However, that doesn’t mean there won’t be positive fantasy assets to be found in the nation’s capital. But first, back to the mess. The Wizards most highly paid asset, John Wall, was injured and while at home, hurt himself more severely. Having had an initial procedure which was going to keep him out of the balance of the 18-19 season, Wall slipped and fell, completely rupturing his Achilles tendon and is now in danger of missing the entire 19-20 season, just as his stupendous max contract kicks in. For reasons I simply cannot fathom, Ernie Grunfeld survived as GM since 2003. Today’s NBA dictates you must have 3-and-D wings to have a competitive team. Two of his best draft selections, Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre, fit the mold exactly. In the span of a month, Grunfeld shipped them both away for what amounts to a breakfast platter at Denny’s. The Wizards best player will certainly be the Bradley Beal, whose name will always be preceded by “poor.” As in poor Bradley Beal, what did he do to deserve this crappy situation? The new general manager, Tommy Shepard, needs all of our prayers. He added Davis Bertans, Isaiah Thomas, Ish Smith, CJ Miles, and drafted Rui Humichura and Admiral Schofield. Shepard also plucked three little-used youngsters from the Lakers roster, as they were shedding players and salary to fit Anthony Davis in. Moritz Wagner, Jemerrio Jones, and Isaac Bonga (all household names) come to the Wiz who are hoping for a diamond in the rough.
If this team does not finish in the Southeast Division basement, I will eat my hat. Please, blog, may I have some more?