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Washington Wizards Season in Review - Same Same but Different

The Washington Wizards’ season came to an end Sunday afternoon with a 114-109 loss to the Houston Rockets, which finished with the third worst record in the NBA.

Washington finishes the regular season 35-47, the exact same record as last season, coming in at 12th of 14 in the Eastern Conference, two spots outside the play-in round of the NBA playoffs.

The Wizards have not finished over .500 since the 2017-18 season and have not won more than 35 games in the span since. Where they are and where they’re going is a huge question mark.

There does not seem to be a cohesive plan and mediocrity has been allowed to fully set in over the past several years.

Wizards youngster Rui Hachimura was traded to the Lakers midseason / Photo: Jess Rapfogel - AP

In fact, since 2000, the Wizards have made the playoffs just nine times and have advanced past the first round four times, but never farther.

A massive overhaul and aggressive offseason trajectory plan is necessary and long overdue.

In the 2022 offseason, the Wizards made a myriad of moves to try to improve the team, mainly with the resigning of superstar Bradley Beal, who agreed to a five-year, $251 million deal in July, the second largest deal in NBA history at the time.

Other moves included bringing in Monte Morris and Will Barton from Denver in a trade and selecting Wisconsin standout Johnny Davis in the first round of the 2022 NBA Draft.

Beal, fresh off his gigantic deal, played in less than two-thirds of the games this year, appearing in just 50 of the 82 games while averaging 23.2 points in those games, his lowest average in five years.

Guard Monte Morris had a solid season in his first in Washington, playing in 62 games while averaging 10.3 points and a career high in assists and rebounds per game.

Will Barton, who came over in the trade along with Morris, was traded to Toronto midseason. He only appeared in 40 games for Washington.

Finally, the rookie first round pick, Johnny Davis, played in exactly 28 games, starting five of them and averaging less than 6 points and 15 minutes per game. Not exactly the rookie year Wizards fans would have wanted from the 10th overall pick in the 2022 draft.

So, a lot of the offseason moves did not work out. However, the Wizards did have some bright spots on the roster this year, it just simply was not enough.

27-year-old forward Kyle Kuzma had the best season of his career by far. In his second season as a Wizard, Kuzma averaged a career high in points, assists, and rebounds while starting all 64 games he played in.

Ten-year veteran center Kristaps Porzingis also had the best year of his career. In his first full season in Washington, the Latvian averaged a career-high 23.2 PPG while shooting nearly 50% from the field. Most importantly, he was able to play the season while maintaining his health, playing in 65 games, the most since his second year in the NBA and only the third time he’s played in more than 60 games.

2021 first round pick, Corey Kispert, finally started to shine for the Wizards late in the year. He finished as the team's fourth leading scorer at 11.1 PPG and took over over the final five weeks of the season, finishing in double-figures seven straight games to close out the season, all of which were above his season scoring average. In fact, in games 77 and 78, Kispert dropped back-to-back career highs of 27 and 29 points, respectively. He’ll be poised to take a big step forward in 2023-24.

Corey Kispert had a career-high in points in two of his last four games to close out the season / Photo: NBC Sports

Head Coach Wes Unseld Jr. just finished his second season in charge and has brought home back-to-back 35-47 campaigns. His first head coaching gig is off to a rocky start, but it’s difficult to see how he could achieve greater results without more significant changes.

The best player on the team, who has one of the largest contracts in NBA history is simply not playing enough. Beal missed a good chunk of time early in the season and the Wizards never recovered. They had a stretch in early December of ten straight losses and never got close to .500 again.

I think the most aggressive and tactical thing the Wizards can do is to try to trade Bradley Beal in the 2023 offseason.

Could a frustrated Bradley Beal find himself outside of Washington next season? / Photo: GettyImages

Porzingis and Kuzma are both just 27, even if it feels like they should be much older. Kispert is a solid piece but is more of a role-player than someone who can be relied on to score at a high clip every night.

Washington needs to go all-in on a ‘rebuild’ and the first step of that is using your greatest trade asset. A team like Milwaukee or Denver would be a great place for a prolific scorer like Beal to go with an already existing superstar. He wouldn’t have to carry the load and would finally get to play in big-time postseason basketball.

In return, the Wizards could acquire some young players and likely draft capital and begin working on a more stable future.

I’m not saying this is the only way or that it would even yield positive results. However, running it back with the same players with an addition in free agency and the draft is not going to be enough.

The superstar got a supermax contract and Kuzma and Porzingis had career years…and the team finished in 12th in the East and 12 games below .500, the exact same result as last year.

More aggressive, more change, more youth; anything less is an acceptance of mediocrity.


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