With the 2019-20 NBA season quickly approaching, we're rolling out 30 Teams in 30 Days. Between now and opening night, we'll dedicate one day to each team in the league.
Today, we're looking at the Washington Wizards.
2018-19 season record
32-50 (11th in Eastern Conference)
2019- 20 projected season record
27-55 (13th in Eastern Conference)
Isaiah Thomas (free agency)
Ish Smith (free agency)
Rui Hachimura (draft)
C.J. Miles (trade)
Davis Bertans (trade)
Trevor Ariza (free agency)
Jonathon Simmons (waived)
Jabari Parker (free agency)
Jeff Green (free agency)
Bobby Portis (free agency)
Tomas Satoransky (free agency)
Dwight Howard (trade)
|PG||Ish Smith||Isaiah Thomas||John Wall|
|SG||Bradley Beal||Isaac Bonga||Garrison Mathews|
|SF||C.J. Miles||Admiral Schofield||Troy Brown Jr.|
|PF||Rui Hachimura||Davis Bertans||Moritz Wagner|
|C||Thomas Bryant||Ian Mahinmi|
3 key storylines
What happens with Bradley Beal?
For all of the drama that played out on the soap opera that was the 2018-19 Washington Wizards, there's no denying that Bradley Beal showed up and showed out, the lone bright spot on an otherwise lost season.
Beal earned his second straight All-Star selection while setting career highs in points, assists, rebounds, steals and blocks per game, starting all 82 games and leading the NBA in minutes per game. He brought his best every night, said all of the right things amidst the internal drama and staked his claim as a legitimate superstar in this league.
Washington always envisioned building an Eastern Conference contender around a backcourt combo of Beal and John Wall, but is that tenable now given Wall's torn Achilles that will likely keep him out for the entire 2019-20 season? There's no guarantee that Wall returns from injury as the same player and he's on the hook for $171 million over the next four years which severely limits their ability to add more pieces around Beal.
So what happens next?
Beal has said multiple times that he would like to remain in Washington yet has only two years remaining on his current contract. Do the Wizards remain committed to building around Beal or do they take a long look in the mirror and decide the best course of action is to flip him for future assets? The New Orleans Pelicans and Oklahoma City Thunder just received historic hauls for Anthony Davis and Paul George, respectively. In a season this wide open at the top, is there a contender who sees Beal as the missing piece to a championship team that's willing to fork over significant future value?
The Bradley Beal subplot is one of the keys not just in Washington, but around the entire league heading into 2019-20.
Spotlight on lottery pick Rui Hachimura
Ninth overall pick Rui Hachimura arrives in Washington with every opportunity to deliver a big season.
A consensus first-team All-American during his third and final season at Gonzaga during which he averaged over 19 points per game on an efficient 59% shooting, Hachimura has tons of skill for a player his size and plays extremely hard. He's got a great in-between game and is relentless in both the half court and in transition.
He joins the injury-riddled Wizards squad coming off a great offseason stint in China representing the Japanese national squad at the FIBA World Cup where he averaged 13.3 points per game in three games.
Given the lack of established scorers in Washington and the fact that he's ready to contribute right away, Hachimura could be in line for a strong rookie campaign.
Lack of quality guard depth
Washington's backcourt consists of Beal and a bunch of question marks even beyond Wall.
Ish Smith is likely going to start at point guard after a three-year stint with the Detroit Pistons in which he predominantly came off the bench behind Reggie Jackson. He did not start in any game last season en route to averaging 5.8 assists per 36 minutes, the worst of his nine-year career.
Behind Smith is Isaiah Thomas who is still trying to revive his career following a hip injury that derailed his All-Star prime at the end of the 2016-17 season. This will be Thomas's fourth team in three years following quick stops with the Cavaliers, Lakers and Nuggets and while still capable of occasional scoring outbursts, the expectations aren't high for the 5-foot-9 point guard now on the wrong side of 30.
Beal's backups are largely unproven, which also makes the decision to let veteran guard Tomas Satoransky walk as a free agent even more puzzling following his strong play at the FIBA World Cup in which he looked like one of the best guards in the entire tournament running the show for Czech Republic.
5 games to watch
Oct. 30 vs. Houston Rockets
After starting the season with three straight road games, the Wizards make their home debut against the Houston Rockets. It's somewhat of an opportunity for Beal to make a statement as he gets the chance to go toe-to-toe with James Harden, widely considered the best shooting guard in the NBA.
Nov. 13 at Boston Celtics
Celtics fans LOVE Isaiah Thomas and this will be just his second game back in Boston. Thomas played seven scoreless minutes in his return to Boston last year while with the Denver Nuggets.
Dec. 14 at Memphis Grizzlies
Hachimura gets his first shot in the NBA at former Gonzaga teammate and fellow 2019 first-round pick Brandon Clarke. In addition to Clarke, the Grizzlies also feature second overall pick Ja Morant, who will be among Hachimura's main competitors in the Rookie of the Year race.
Feb. 7 vs. Dallas Mavericks
This is Washington's first game after the NBA trade deadline. Based on who is still on the roster at this point, they'll be significantly more clarity about the overall direction and strategy of the franchise.
April 1 vs. New Orleans Pelicans
If Hachimura is in fact a sleeper for Rookie of the Year, he'll get two showdowns with Zion Williamson over the final two weeks of the season with the first coming on April Fools Day at home. Hachimura got the best of Williamson when they met last year in college as he scored 20 points to lead Gonzaga to a win over Duke.
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