2018-2019 Off the Glass Team Preview Series: Washington Wizards
The 2018-2019 NBA season starts October 16th and to get you ready for tip-off, Off the Glass is previewing all 30 teams. Today we look at the Washington Wizards.
43-39, 2nd in the Southeast Division. Lost 4-2 in the 1st Round.
The Wizards suffered a blow last season with All-Star John Wall electing to have surgery on an ailing knee and miss games over the course of the season. Washington was left to rely on Wall’s backcourt mate Bradley Beal, who made his first appearance as an All-Star and elevated his play and carried the Wizards for all 82 contests. Otto Porter made his case for being the best two-way player on the team, posting a .602 true shooting percentage. This team remained middle of the pack on defense and offense throughout the season and topped out as the 8th seed in the East, losing 4-2 in the first round to the Toronto Raptors.
Marcin Gortat, C; Mike Scott, F.
Dwight Howard, C; Austin Rivers, G; Jeff Green, F.
Player to Watch:
Kelly Oubre Jr.
If there was one team that could easily vacillate between nightmare for their opponents and nightmare for their organization this season, it’s the Wiz. The big question is will head coach Scott Brooks implement an offensive system that generates quality looks when games become bogged down in the half court? Wall taking one shot, followed by Beal having the next with the occasional feed to Howard for his eye sore of a post-game is not going to cut it. The defense should be top 10; Howard has never had this many good perimeter defenders in front of him and should be able to put up monster block numbers as they funnel penetration towards him in the paint. Turnovers and stops will equal transition opportunities where the Wizards excel and could use to supplement their struggles in the half-court.
The silver lining in last year’s Wall injury is that the Wizards know what they have in guard Tomas Satoransky. Returning four starters means Oubre Jr. will return to buoying the bench unit with his energy and playing crunch time with the starters. Green and Rivers give the Wizards wing depth and a luxury most teams don’t have with two capable back up guards, allowing them to preserve their all-stars if Wall misses time again and Beal regresses on games played.
There is also the hope that, a year removed from his knee injuries, Mahinmi can salvage some of his bloated contract value by rebounding and defending well when Howard is out. A surprise emergence of rookie Troy Brown Jr. could unleash this team by allowing the Wizards to experiment with small ball lineups using Green, Porter and Markieff Morris as small ball 5s.
Worst Case Scenario: Howard’s and Rivers’ reputations precede them by fracturing the entire locker room into separate camps except for Green, who, after 10 years in the league, still doesn’t care. Trades are made with general manager Ernie Grunfeld erroneously attributing the issue to be Beal and having three too many Jr.’s at small forward.
Best Case Scenario: Brooks pushes all the right buttons while the team takes on a Wiz versus everybody mentality, Howard being their spiritual guide. Behind hounding defense, easy transition opportunities and better three-point shooting across the roster, Washington establishes itself as one of the East’s top teams.
46-36, 1st in the Southeast Division.