Even after a multitude of trades shuffled the Washington Wizards lineup in the offseason, a few players are set to return to Washington's lineup in the 2023-24 season.
Forward Kyle Kuzma signed a four-year, $102 million contract extension with Washington during the offseason. The former Los Angeles Lakers forward played and started in 64 games for the Wizards during the 2022-23 season, earning a career-high 21.2 points per game on a 44.8% field goal percentage. Forward Taj Gibson signed a one-year contract with Washington earlier this week after playing in 49 games for the Wizards last season.
“We spent time with Kyle over the last several weeks and were impressed with his commitment to his craft, desire to take on a leadership role, and passion for representing the Wizards,” Wizards General Manager Will Dawkins said in a July release. “His versatility, resilience, and drive are all core characteristics of the type of player we want as part of our organization.”
Who are some Wizards players who could lose their starting spots in the team's 2023-24 NBA training camp?
Kispert, the former No. 15 selection in the 2021 NBA Draft, played in 74 games and started in 45 for the Wizards during the 2022-23 season. The former Gonzaga forward averaged 11.1 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 28.3 minutes per game. He hit 42.4% of his 3-point shots last year, including nine of his 14 tries from long range during a seven-point loss to the Orlando Magic in March.
Kispert scored 20 points or more four times during the 2022-23 season, peaking at the 29 he dropped during a 9-point loss to the New York Knicks in April. He finished the season with a defensive rating, or “the number of points per 100 possessions that the team allows while that individual player is on the court”, of 115.6, according to NBA.com. The figure put him on pace with now-Sacramento Kings guard Chris Duarte and Charlotte Hornets guard Terry Rozier.
Forwards Deni Avdija and Bilal Coulibaly make up a few of the Wizards other options at the three. Avdija played in 76 games and started in 40 for Washington during the 2022-23 season. Coulibaly was selected with the No. 7 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. The Wizards acquired him through a draft-night trade with the Indiana Pacers in exchange for the eighth-overall pick and two second-round selections.
“Bilal brings energy and ability on both sides of the floor and we see his trajectory continuing to trend upward as his play catches up to his elite physical attributes,” Dawkins sad in June, via NBA.com. “We feel that we improved the long-range outlook of our team tonight by adding him as a youthful, versatile and highly-skilled player.”
Coulibaly played in four games for the Wizards during the 2023 NBA Summer League. He averaged 12.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, two assists and 2.3 blocks per game during the team's Summer League run. The Wizards went 2-3 during their July schedule, taking wins over the Boston Celtics and Oklahoma City Thunder and losses to the Pacers, Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs.
Kispert must make his case to keep his spot as a starter as Washington moves on to a new era of Wizards basketball without guard Bradley Beal. Beal was traded to the Phoenix Suns in June after spending 11 seasons in Washington.