The Washington Wizards could be tagged as the winners of the offseason after their series of great transactions. With the risk of losing Bradley Beal, the Wizards were hyper-aggressive in the offseason by landing a blockbuster trade involving Russell Westbrook. The question now is: will their new additions be enough to make them a perennial playoff team? Will it be enough to inject a winning culture again? Let's try to parse through the details and come up with three bold predictions.
Wizards: 3 Predictions for Next Season
3. An Easier Route to the Playoffs
The Wizards managed to make it to the postseason after beating the Indiana Pacers in the play-in tournament. They even took a game off the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round. While making the playoffs is a win in anyone's book, the road the team trekked to get there is more indicative of the team's performance. To recall, the duo of Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook just failed to work. Beal himself was dropping 50 and 60 points all over the place but it was never enough to squeeze out victories. This is a clear sign massive overhaul needs to be done. And the front office did just that.
Off the Westbrook transaction, they got Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma, and Montrezl Harrell. Lakers fans (as always) have strong opinions on one or two of the aforementioned. But at the end of the day, you cannot discount how important they were in the Purple and Gold's campaign over the last two seasons. To make things sweeter, they also snagged Spencer Dinwiddie from the market. All of a sudden, from a team seemingly without an identity, the Wizards are now a team with a pretty solid core. Newly-minted head coach Wes Unseld Jr. will have the enviable task of utilizing his talented core. The good thing about these pick-ups is that being a part of a title team, they know how to play a role and do it extremely well. They know this is the true path to greatness in a team sport like basketball.
2. Birth of Star Duo (or Trio?)
Before the Brooklyn Nets became the superteam they are now, the team was raising eyebrows for their level of play. Here was a team with practically no All-Star (though D'Angelo Russell was eventually named one) making a ripple in the Eastern Conference. Apart from Russell, eyes were fixated on Spencer Dinwiddie who could just score lights out at any given moment.
When the big three came along, there were few whispers here and there about Dinwiddie's potential. Does he really deserve to be the second fiddle to Kyrie Irving or James Harden? Or is Dinwiddie good enough to have his own team and even become an All-Star? We may have the answer to this question in the coming season. All and signs seem to indicate that yes, Dinwiddie is good enough to become an All-Star.
Apart from Dinwiddie, eyes should be locked on the performance of Kyle Kuzma as well. Lakers fans have had strong opinions on Kuzma. People tend to forget that he was out-balling Lonzo Ball in their rookie year together. Kuzma was still trying to develop his own game and identity. Then suddenly, LeBron James enters together with his colossal task of winning a title and adding to his legacy. Say whatever you want, but this is certainly affected Kuzma's mentality.
Finally, Wizards fans should continue keeping an eye on Rui Hachimura. The man has been steadily improving in his first two seasons. Having Montrezl Harrell both as a mentor and backup could further boost his development.
1. Bradley Beal Will Stay
If this refurbished team delivers the goods, then Bradley Beal will ultimately stay with the Wizards. This is obviously the mission of the front office. That's why they pulled the trigger on that Westbrook trade and gave Dinwiddie a three-year, $54 million contract. The Wizards management are aware that they have a heck of talent in Beal. Letting him walk away is like voluntarily losing a winning lottery ticket.
Beal's contract will run up to the 2022-23 NBA season. In the summer of 2023, he will be an unrestricted free agent. Amid all the turmoil he experienced last season, Beal was gracious enough to admit that he wants to stay in Washington, believing that he could win there. No one seemed to hold on to his words as rumors flew up and about which state that he'll be gone soon. Beal must now be in cloud-nine after receiving the news that he'll have new teammates. And not just normal teammates, but players who know how to play the game and be productive.