This year’s Washington Wizards team will be one to watch. With Bradley Beal as the only experienced starter left, will the Wizards be willing to contend with what they have or trade Beal in hopes of a full rebuild? Fellow guard John Wall continues rehabbing from his injury and is likely to miss all of next year. If that’s the case, the Wizards surely won’t have much hope for contention and the obvious answer is for them to tank. Troy Brown Jr. and Thomas Bryant will be expected to take on larger roles with the team as they enter their second and third years, respectively. They also brought in Isaiah Thomas to hold down the point guard position and rookie Rui Hachimura via the draft.
After a very memorable playoff run with the Boston Celtics two years ago, Isaiah Thomas’ career took a tumble as he struggled with injuries and only suited up for a total of 49 games the past two seasons. That’s a far cry from the 76 games he started in his last year with Boston. With Washington, Thomas will get a fresh start to his career though he remains an undersized point guard in today’s NBA. It’s anybody’s guess whether he can recover any of the old IT and if he’ll ever be the same player as he was in Boston. Those were the days of a 20+ point scoring guard with the ability to collect roughly 6 assists per night. These past few years, Thomas has mainly been a backup that’s struggled to find traction on any roster.
The most interesting player on the Wizards' roster will be Bradley Beal who earned his second consecutive All-Star bid last year. He’s become their most reliable player and scorer after averaging a career high 25.6 points last season. The main question that will linger over the entire season will be his future with the team, especially after John Wall returns from his injury. For the meantime, Beal remains Washington’s best bet to stay afloat this year as he’s slowly become one of the best all around guards in the league. Among those returning from last year, Beal is currently ranked 1st in scoring and assists and 2nd in rebounds for the team.
After a fairly ordinary rookie year, the Wizards will certainly have high hopes for their 1st round pick last year. Troy Brown Jr. only played in 52 games, starting 10, and didn’t seem to find much success on the court. He had very little to no opportunities and averaged just 4.8 points per contest. With the projected starting lineup spot for the small forward position, he’s bound to get more than the 14 minutes he averaged each game and should garner more opportunities on the offensive end. While it won’t exactly be a breakout campaign, Brown Jr. will become a key rotation player for the Wizards as he takes the next step in year 2.
Speaking of young players taking on bigger roles, the #9 overall pick in this year’s draft, Rui Hachimura, will be asked to step in right away and become their starting power forward. He spent his junior season improving his draft stock at Gonzaga, averaging 19.7 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. The versatility and ability to guard multiple positions makes Hachimura an ideal player for today’s NBA. He’s a great at locating mismatches and isn’t a player that will need the ball in his hands at all times. This gives him great cutting ability and the chance to aggressively score despite not being an outside shooter. Look for a dark horse candidate at Rookie of the Year honors if he quickly develops into the Wizards’ #2 option and possibly first if a Beal trade happens.
Despite not being very experienced or having much of a track record, The Wizards signed Thomas Bryant to a $25 million dollar, 3 year deal. After bouncing around with the Lakers for a year, the Wizards took a chance on him and he became their starting center for the majority of last season. Bryant reward them with 10.5 points, 1.3 assists, adn 6.3 rebounds per game. In return, Washington gave him a fairly reasonable contract that if he produces like he’s been doing, should have huge benefits for the club. With a roster devoid of much talent, the Wizards need to find their next key player to go alongside Beal and Bryant could be just that. He has the potential to become a double-double machine if Washington decides to give him more minutes and possibly an extra shot attempt or two each game.