The Wizards look different, but it’s hard to tell if they’re any better. Russell Westbrook is out, and Spencer Dinwiddie, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, and Aaron Holiday are in. The Wizards feel more balanced on paper, but Westbrook’s shot creation ability could be missed. Bradley Beal remains the star of the show, and no one knows how long he’ll want to be there if Washington can’t build a consistent winner. This doesn’t feel like the year it’s going to happen.
In a best case scenario, Bradley Beal signs an extension with the Wizards which the team offered him on Oct. 1. Spencer Dinwiddie gels with him and they form a solid backcourt. The Wizards’ veteran additions (Kuzma, Harrell, Caldwell-Pope) gel with Beal and Rui Hachimura. Corey Kispert becomes a solid three point addition while Davis Bertans regains his 2019-20 season form. Washington has a 45-win season, a Top-6 seed in the East and makes the second round of the playoffs.
The Wizards stumble to a sub. 400 start not unlike last year. The offense never gels, Beal continues to languish on defense with the rest of the team and Kispert spends most of his time in the G-League. Ultimately, the Wizards win 25 games, miss the playoffs and Beal requests a trade from the Wizards in the middle of the season.
The Wizards will have a slightly sub-.500 season and earn a Top-10 seed to make the play-in and sneak into the first round of the playoffs. While they will have some winning streaks, they will still begin the season on a rough note with a .400 or so record over their first 20-30 games because of the addition of many new players and a new head coach in Wes Unseld, Jr. That said, the Wizards will improve as the season goes on.
I am most excited to see how the Wizards’ defense improves (hopefully) from last season. Their defense significantly improved after Daniel Gafford was acquired last offseason. With Unseld’s resume as a defensive coach in Denver, it will be interesting to see how he can get Washington to continue that improvement this year. This doesn’t just apply to Gafford specifically, but for the team in general, in particular Beal, who has declined on that end of the floor in recent season.