Team: Washington Wizards
2017-18 Record: 43-39, 8th in the Eastern Conference
It was another disappointing and underachieving season for the Wizards in 2017-18. Once again, they struggled to keep both Beal and Wall on the park at the same time, as they managed a 43-39 record, which was good enough for 8th seed in the Eastern Conference. They eventually fell to the Raptors 4-2 in the first round of the playoffs.
They’ve decided to shake things up a bit in the off-season by moving on big man Marcin Gortat and replacing him with former perennial All-Star Dwight Howard. The Wizards will be Howard’s 5th team in 7 seasons and his 3rd in his last 3. He most recently played for the Charlotte Hornets, where he averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds in 81 appearances.
Scott Brooks will again be at the helm, leading the Wizards for a 3rd consecutive year of his now 10-year NBA coaching career. Aside from Howard, the only other big additions to Brooks’ team are Jeff Green and Austin Rivers.
As mentioned above, Gortat moved on and joined the Clippers, as did veteran stretch four, Mike Scott.
Off-season Arrivals: Thomas Bryant, Jeff Green, Dwight Howard (free agent), Austin Rivers (Clippers), Troy Brown, Issuf Sanon (draft)
Off-season Departures: Marcin Gortat, Mike Scott (Clippers)
What to expect?
Saying this feels a lot like Déjà vu, but we expect the Wizards to improve this year and climb up the Eastern Conference standings. Their young roster got some great exposure with john Wall out for a lot of the 2017-18 season, which we feel was a blessing in disguise.
The addition of Green, Howard and Rivers gives them great depth at every position, which means they can actually afford to have an injury or two this season without completely falling apart. Further, you can expect Otto Porter to increase his output again this year and become a dangerous third option, whilst Kelly Oubre Jr will is primed for a breakout year.
If all goes to plan, we can see the Wizards causing all sorts of problems in the weaker Eastern Conference and potentially finding themselves with home-court advantage for the first round of the playoffs.
Key Player: Bradley Beal
We recognise that John Wall has the runs on the board and is seen as the face of the Wizards franchise. However, if the Wizards are to become a legitimate contender it has to be on the back of a stellar season from Bradley Beal.
Although Beal made his first All-Star appearance last season while averaging 22.6 points, 4.4 rebounds (career high) and 4.5 assists (career high), we feel that he has another gear he can go to in 2018-19, as long as he stays healthy.
Last season was the first time Beal was able to play over 80 games since he joined the league back in 2012 as the 3rd overall pick. If he can manage to stay healthy again, we see him scoring 24-25 points per game and taking the reins from John Wall as the best player in Washington.
Vegas 2018-19 Win Total
The Wizards line of 44.5 seems way too low for our liking. They managed to win 43 games last year with John Wall missing half of the season through injury. On top of that, there will be natural improvement from guys like Porter and Oubre, as well as the additions of Howard, Rivers and Green.
Even without a perfect run we still see them winning 45-47 games. However, IF they stay healthy and all goes to plan, then a 50-win season certainly isn’t out of the question.