Once the Washington Wizards traded their home-grown star Bradley Beal in the offseason, the world knew they were going to struggle this season. That was a franchise-resetting move. Many projected them to be quite bad, but maybe not *this* bad. Washington ended the season with the second-worst record (15-67) and point differential (-9.3) in the NBA. If one were to play the blame game, fingers could be pointed at Jordan Poole and Tommy Sheppard as reasons why.

Jordan Poole, Guard

Before embellishing on Jordan Poole too hard, it is worth noting that he finished the season strong. Granted, there many games the Wizards sat a large portion of their veterans and played against teams who did the same. However, from March 1st until the end of the year, Poole averaged over 20 points per game while shooting roughly 44% from the field, 36.5% from three, and over 93% from the free throw line. He turned a corner.

That's great for him because the beginning of his 2023-24 season was dreadful. He didn't shoot above 33% from three in any month from October until March. There were only two months where he shot above 40.1% in that span. Not only was Poole playing poorly, but the Wizards were losing. A lot. And Poole quickly became the poster boy for their impotence.

The Wizards knew they were taking a gamble by taking Poole and his bloated contract from the Golden State Warriors. They were paid a first-round pick to do so and reimburse the Warriors with Chris Paul, but the first year of the Poole experiment in Washington D.C. was not a successful one.

Both Poole and the Wizards need the next couple of years to be better. It's hard to imagine that Poole will have much trade interest with him being owed $95,544,643 over the next three seasons. The Wizards are neither plush with young talent or draft picks, so they need to find a hit somewhere.

The Wizards were designed to fail this season. That's fine. It was past time for them to reset their franchise and embark on a rebuild. But it wasn't expected that they would be this bad. Progress must be made next year.

Tommy Sheppard, former President of Basketball Operations

Part of the reason why the Wizards don't have many draft picks or young building blocks is because of former President of Basketball Operations Tommy Sheppard. Sheppard made a series of puzzling moves regarding trades and draft picks that have put Washington in this unfortunate spot. Their new regime has made some promising moves to help steer them into the future, but they still have a lot of work to do because of Sheppard's previous transgressions.

The biggest black eye of Sheppard's tenure was how the Bradley Beal era ended. The Wizards were nowhere near competing for anything meaningful in the Eastern Conference, but held on to Beal a couple of years after longer than they should've. He also gave Beal a no-trade clause, which gave him complete control of his new destination. The Wizards couldn't even get a first-round pick for Beal at a time when the Spurs got two unprotected firsts and a pick swap from Atlanta for Dejounte Murray.

Sheppard's track record in the draft has been poor as well. There is no distinguishable hit for Sheppard since he took over the franchise from 2019 to 2022. Rui Hachimura, Deni Avdija, and Corey Kispert have been fine players in the NBA. However, neither have become anything close to franchise players. Johnny Davis, their 2022 selection, has only played 1,038 minutes in two seasons.

In another world, perhaps the Wizards don't wait to trade Beal. They recoup a ton of draft picks and position themselves well to land Victor Wembanyama in 2023. They did none of those things. This new regime has done its best to better position themselves for the future, but it still has a lot of work to do. Sheppard didn't leave them with a lot to work with.