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2018-19 Season Preview Extravaganza | Can The Wizards Get Over The Hump?
Twenty-nine different opposing NBA teams will walk through the doors of Target Center to play the Wolves this season, and we want you to know as much as you can about all of them. We’re going worst to first in order of last year’s standings and telling you everything you need to know. Next up, the Wizards who added one of the most-controversial players in the offseason.
Notable Players Acquired: G Austin Rivers (trade), Troy Brown Jr. (draft), Dwight Howard (free agency), Jeff Green (free agency)
Notable Players Lost: C Marcin Gortat (trade), F Mike Scott (trade)
The Wizards finished the season with a 43-39 record, good for eighth in the East.
It was the fourth time in five years the Wizards had made the playoffs, but they were eliminated in the first round by the Raptors.
This is a team that has plenty of talent on it, but with the current roster construction, it feels like this team is stuck in what I call “playoff purgatory.” Basically, a team that competes for the playoffs each season, but doesn’t have enough to make a real run for the NBA Finals, or enough young talent to build around for the future. They are just kind of stuck.
Think the Joe Johnson/Josh Smith Hawks.
The good news here is that the team’s best player, John Wall, missed 41 games and the team still was able to win 43 games.
This was a big offseason for the Wizards. They traded Gortat (a player who didn’t get along great with Wall) for Rivers. Love him or hate him, Rivers is a solid player who will give this bench a much-needed boost.
Here’s where things get fun. Fun? I guess that's the word we'll use. To replace Gortat in the middle, the Wizards signed Howard. The stats tell you that Howard was a fine player last season, averaging 16.6 points (most since 2013-14) and 12.5 rebounds per game for the Hornets. But those numbers almost seem inflated. There’s a reason why Howard will be playing for his fourth team in the last four seasons. At 32 years old, there’s not much time left for Howard to win back NBA fans. With a solid season with Wall and Bradley Beal, helping them to the playoffs with no drama, he could do just that.
History, however, tells us that won’t happen.
I also have a lot of questions about this photo and why it was taken. I also wonder what will be done with it.
The Big Question:
The additions of Rivers, and to a lesser extent Howard, will no doubt help the Wizards. If they can get a full season out of Wall, this team should sniff 45-47 wins, especially with LeBron out of the East.
Wall and Beal form one of the best backcourts in the league. Kelly Oubre Jr. and Otto Porter are solid players, but it doesn’t look like either will become stars in this league. For this team to compete, they’ll need one more, especially with the team's lack of depth.
What about Troy Brown Jr.?
This is a guy who we loved in our pre-draft coverage. He’s a playmaker and plays his best as a point-forward type. If I’m Scott Brooks, I’m trying to find creative ways to get Brown on the court as often as possible. You don’t know what you have in a player until you play him.
How Do The Wolves Beat Them?
Stop the backcourt from scoring. Combined, Beal and Wall averaged about 42 points per game last season.
While Wall missed both games last season against Minnesota, the Wolves limited Beal to averaging 13.5 points in the two games.
This team should make the playoffs. They aren’t in the same class as Boston or Philadelphia, but Washington is in that next class of Indiana, Milwaukee and Toronto.
Washington fans have been waiting for this team to come together and make a run at the NBA Finals. It feels like they have the talent and the versatility to do so. It’s not crazy to think of a scenario in which the Wizards earn the three seed and upset the 76ers to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.
It’s also not crazy to think of a scenario where the Wizards earn the seven seed and get swept in the first round.
Describe This Team In 15 Words Or Less
Wall is 28. Beal is 25. The time is now for a run, if ever.
So When Can I See Them?
The Wolves first play the Wizards on Sunday, March 3 in Washington DC at 5 p.m. The Wizards come to Minneapolis shortly after on Saturday, March 9 at 7 p.m.