Washington Wizards: 5 big questions for 2021-22 NBA season
The Washington Wizards lost the second best player on their team in Russell Westbrook, but they were able to acquire prominent players to complement their main man Bradley Beal. He has been rumored to be in trade discussions for numerous years already, but Beal has expressed his loyalty to the franchise that selected him third overall in the 2012 draft.
With a slew of role players, it will not necessarily translate to instant success, especially with the massive improvements of their other Eastern Conference counterparts.
Former Denver Nuggets assistant coach Wes Unseld Jr. is now tasked to lead the charge with the patented defensive system he implemented at the Mile High. Thus, these are five looming questions for the Washington Wizards.
Five Wizards questions for 2021-22 season
Is Bradley Beal going to be traded before the offseason?
This question seems cliche for any casual NBA fan because Beal has been tasked to carry the offensive load for the Wizards over the last few years. Moreover, he is already entering his ninth season in the association, which makes it more likely that Beal may end up finding a new home soon wherein he possibly contend for a crown.
Beal still has a player option for the 2022-23 season, but he could easily decline that and sign a longer and larger deal with another franchise. The question mark for Washington is if they are willing to take the risk of losing him to free agency or try shopping him and stockpiling on draft picks and young assets to begin their rebuild.
Is this the breakout season for Daniel Gafford?
With the center rotation of the Wizards last season, it was very ironic that Scott Brooks would consistently play Daniel Gafford, Alex Len, and Robin Lopez every game. However, Gafford was excelling as the perfect complement to Westbrook’s floor general abilities last season.
With Len and Lopez gone, Gafford has the starting spot to flourish in the system of Unseld Jr. He has phenomenal pick and roll awareness, while obtaining a boatload of blocks on the other side of the court. His upside is through the roof and the Wizards must be ecstatic with their trade deadline acquisition last season.
Will Kyle Kuzma regain his old self?
When he was donning the Purple and Gold in Los Angeles, Kyle Kuzma had two phenomenal seasons to begin his professional career. As LeBron James and Anthony Davis led them to the 2020 bubble championship, Kuzma adjusted and sacrificed to a new role as a microwave off the bench.
With Kuzma being the main piece in the Westbrook trade, there are a ton of expectations for the 26 year-old. He has a wide array of offensive and scoring abilities as he has that irrational confidence of leading an offense. The Kuzma and Beal duo could both average at least 45-5oPPG this year, which could possibly propel Washington to the top eight discussion once again.
Is Rui Hachimura going to live up to the hype?
Unfortunately, Rui Hachimura did not to join the team in training camp and has not returned for the beginning of the regular season due to personal issues. After his sensational stint with Gonzaga, the expectations heightened for Hachimura as he had a plethora of opportunities to improve at the wing position.
Hachimura did not play terrible in his first two years in the NBA, but the Wizards fans expect him to take another step forward. For instance, he could convert more long range bombs or facilitate the offense more because he is a legitimate threat when he is healthy on the court. The Wizards hopes for Hachimura to return the court soon because of the immense potential when he was selected in the lottery of the 2019 NBA Draft.
Which role players consistently complement Beal?
As previously mentioned, Beal has the grueling grind of carrying the offensive load for Washington. By adding Spencer Dinwiddie, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell, and Kuzma, these are explosive power on the offensive side of the court.
These four acquisitions can easily score 20 a game, but the distinctive factor is producing these numbers consistently. Harrell had an excellent initial game in their victory against the Toronto Raptors, while Kuzma had a double double for Washington. With a formidable nine or 10 man rotation for the Wizards, Unseld Jr has the liberty to experiment and search for the lineup combinations that will propel them to success.
With several pieces surrounding Beal this upcoming season, the Wizards look to improve on their eighth seed performance last year.