The Washington Wizards 2016-2017 campaign can be called a success, with them getting back to the Eastern Conference semi-finals with the help of their new coach, Scott Brooks. However, these young Wizards have their sights set on bigger and better things this season an depleted East. With their home opener just a day away, it’s time to dive into what to expect and look for during this NBA season.
The Wizards’ off-season was fairly quiet, as they mostly “stayed the course” with their roster, making a few minor adjustments. The biggest off-season acquisitions were retaining Otto Porter to a max contract, as well as signing John Wall through 2023 on a “super max” extension. This type of stability is what the Eastern Conference seemed to be lacking, as many of the most talented teams re-shuffled or traded away key pieces. The only aspect of the off-season that was seen as a setback was the sports hernia surgery for starting forward Markieff Morris. His absence will be felt early on, as coach Scott Brooks will need to find a fill-in starter, such as Jason Smith or Kelly Oubre Jr. (if they choose to go small), to round out the starting lineup.
On paper, this Washington Wizards team has one of the more talented rosters in the Eastern Conference, and there is no reason to think that this team isn’t capable of at least 50 wins this season. Led by All-star point guard John Wall, this team will go as far as he takes them, and he looks poised for another strong postseason run. Shooting guard Bradley Beal looked in mid-season form in the preseason, and small forward Otto Porter continues to make improvements to his game. Rounding out the starting lineup is center Marcin Gortat, who needs to help the Wizards on the boards to create second chance points. Additionally, Jason Smith will likely be the opening day starter at the power forward position as Markieff Morris heals from surgery.
The Wizards’ bench seemed to be gaining more positive chemistry during the preseason, and they will need to sustain their momentum in order to help out the starters. The addition of back-up point guard Tim Frazier should take some responsibility off of John Wall’s shoulders to have a solid ball handler and scorer off the bench. Sheldon Mac will likely fill in most of Bradley Beal’s minutes when he needs a rest, while Ian Mahinmi will be called upon frequently to relieve Marcin Gortat. Mahinmi looks slimmer this year, and could have a breakout season if he remains healthy. Rounding out the bench are Kelly Oubre Jr., who continues to push Otto Porter for minutes, as his game is steadily improving at the small forward position. Additionally, Tomas Satoransky has had a good off-season, and could see some more minutes this year,
Personally, I see no reason why this Washington Wizards team isn’t capable of at least 50+ wins and a high seed in the Eastern Conference. This team, under coach Scott Brooks’ leadership, appear to be more than ready to dominate their competition throughout the 82-game season. Look for John Wall to have an MVP-caliber season, and at least one other Wizard to make the all-star roster. If I had to guess, I would say Bradley Beal would squeeze out enough votes over Otto Porter to make the all-star squad.
2017-2018 Season Record Prediction: 52-30, 2nd seed in Eastern Conference