The Wizards’ breakout player will be…
Davis Bertans. Bertans comes to Washington after playing last season with the Spurs, where he averaged 8.0 points and 3.5 rebounds per game, mostly off the bench for a playoff team. He made 42.9 percent of his threes and will space the floor with defenses focusing heavily on Bradley Beal this season.
The Wizards need a clear number-two option to Beal and they don’t really have that right now. Bertans appears to be the best candidate given his ability to shoot from the three-point line and his past experience in San Antonio.
It all goes wrong if…
The Wizards are projected to be one of the worst NBA teams this season. I’m not evaluating this season based on wins and losses, but rather how well the team’s young players play.
Still, if Beal suffers a significant injury and misses many games, the Wizards will lose many games AND could truly look like a “team without an identity.” Washington will also suffer setbacks if Thomas Bryant or Rui Hachimura miss significant time. This season will go wrong if they end up playing many players who have little to no future with the team.
What we’ll be saying about the Wizards at the end of the season…
We will say that the Wizards are a resilient group at the end of the season. General Manager Tommy Sheppard was deliberate about drafting Hachimura, a Gonzaga junior ninth overall and trading for the rights to Admiral Schofield, a Tennessee senior instead of going for freshmen who are generally more immature.
I’m sure that Hachimura and Schofield understand that this season’s Wizards team won’t win many games given the need to rebuild. They shouldn’t feel demoralized if Washington has a long losing streak. They will continue to be upbeat and look to gradually improve.
Vegas predicts that the Wizards will win 27.5 games this season. That is likely assuming that there are no major personnel changes on the roster such as a trade or an additional major injury on the roster. The Wizards will be balancing the need to develop younger players like Hachimura, Schofield and Wagner against the competing need to have a strong product on the floor with Beal as the centerpiece. Ultimately, I think the Wizards will be under the line, but by just a little bit. They will finish 25-57 in the 2018-19 NBA season.