Washington Wizards: NBA season preview, roster and schedule 2018

After opting to bring the band back together than making a big splash, are the Wizards good enough to finally breaking through in the East?

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Offseason Recap

Arrivals: Mike Scott, Tim Frazier, Jodie Meeks

Departures: Bojan Bogdanovic, Trey Burke, Brandon Jennings

The Wizards were seemingly one of the few teams this offseason who didn’t significantly alter their team. Their one pressing concern was the re-signing of Otto Porter Jr., and they accomplished that without too much drama.

Their other concern was the bench which was far and away the team’s Achilles heel last season. The Wizards looked to address that need with mid-season trades for Bojan Bogdanovic and Brandon Jennings, but opted not to re-sign either as free agents.

To the Wizards’ credit, they landed a fairly capable backup point guard in Tim Frazier and hardly had to give anything of value away to get him. Meanwhile, they splurged to sign Jodie Meeks, who will now assume the Bogdanovic role as the shooter and scorer off the bench. However, that deal will have its risks given Meeks’ bad luck with injuries over the last few years.

Apart from that, though, this Wizards team will be more or less the same squad that took the top-seeded Boston Celtics to seven games in the second round of last season’s playoffs. Is there still improvement to be made within this group? There will have to be if they aim to go deeper in the postseason.

Projected Depth Chart

C – Marcin Gortat / Ian Mahinmi

PF – Markieff Morris / Jason Smith / Chris McCullough / Mike Scott

SF – Otto Porter Jr. / Kelly Oubre Jr. 

SG – Bradley Beal / Jodie Meeks / Sheldon Mac

PG – John Wall / Tim Frazier / Tomas Satoransky

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Strengths

Aside from the Toronto Raptors, no other team in the East can boast of a better backcourt than the Wizards. John Wall took his game to yet another level last season as he put up 23 points, 10.7 assists, 2.0 steals, and shot 45 percent from the floor – all new career-highs. Those incredible numbers landed him a well-deserved spot in the All-NBA Third Team.

Meanwhile, Wall’s backcourt running mate, Bradley Beal, also had a breakout campaign. Finally healthy for a full season, Beal put up an impressive 23 points per game on 48 percent shooting. With him and Wall leading the way, the Wizards were comfortably in the top 10 in offensive efficiency last season.

Wall’s ability to 1) produce turnovers at an impressive rate and 2) direct those turnovers into fast-break opportunities with his blistering speed are two of the team’s big strengths. Washington finished second in steals and fourth in fastbreak points last season.

But perhaps the team’s biggest strength overall is in the collective cohesion of their starting lineup. Wall and Beal are great on their own, but the chemistry they’ve built with Porter, Markieff Morris, and Marcin Gortat has been remarkable. That lineup was by far the most used five-man combination in the league and for good reason: it was great. Porter, Morris, and Gortat are not nearly the stars Beal and Wall are individually, but as a whole, their skills complement each other so well on the court.

Weaknesses

As mentioned earlier, the bench is by far the big weakness of this team. They simply didn’t have much of anything behind their amazing starting five to sustain their great play. This was particularly evident in the postseason when Wall had to play so many minutes because Jennings and Trey Burke were so bad offensively.

Frazier figures to be a slight upgrade but in order for that unit to be passable, they’ll still need Kelly Oubre Jr. to continue improving and for Meeks to remain healthy. Those are two significant questions, though, and if they don’t get answers, this year it could get ugly once again.

The Wizards are also fairly subpar in terms of the defensive glass. While Gortat more than holds his own, Morris isn’t a great defensive rebounder for a power forward, and the same goes with Jason Smith, the team’s primary big man off the bench.

Their lack of depth is the key issue, though. If Washington were to somehow pick up long-term injuries to even one of their starting five, they could have issues.

Player to Watch – Otto Porter

With hardly any changes made to the roster this offseason, there aren’t any obvious choices for a player who’s still a relatively unknown quantity that can give this team an unexpected boost. Porter is one of the few players who could still realistically fit that description.

Porter got paid this offseason thanks to his outstanding fourth year in the league. Not only did he play a career-high 80 games, he also averaged new career bests in points (13.6), rebounds (6.4), steals (1.5), field goal percentage (51%) and three-point percentage (43%), which ranked fifth overall in the league.

The big question now, though, is whether that excellent campaign is a sign of more things to come from the 24-year-old or if that’s just about his ceiling as a player. Even if he doesn’t improve markedly in the next few years, he should still be a fairly valuable player because there just aren’t too many good young wings in the league with his skill set.

But to be an elite team, the Wizards need Porter to get several notches better in the coming years. Seeing whether he’s still capable of such improvement will be one of the more interesting subplots to follow on this team this year.

2017/18 Schedule

1 Oct 18, 2017 vs. Philadelphia 76ers    

2 Oct 20, 2017 vs. Detroit Pistons    

3 Oct 23, 2017 @ Denver Nuggets    

4 Oct 25, 2017 @ Los Angeles Lakers    

5 Oct 27, 2017 @ Golden State Warriors    

6 Oct 29, 2017 @ Sacramento Kings    

7 Nov 1, 2017 vs. Phoenix Suns    

8 Nov 3, 2017 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers    

9 Nov 5, 2017 @ Toronto Raptors    

10 Nov 7, 2017 vs. Dallas Mavericks    

11 Nov 9, 2017 vs. Los Angeles Lakers    

12 Nov 11, 2017 vs. Atlanta Hawks    

13 Nov 13, 2017 vs. Sacramento Kings    

14 Nov 15, 2017 @ Miami Heat    

15 Nov 17, 2017 vs. Miami Heat    

16 Nov 19, 2017 @ Toronto Raptors    

17 Nov 20, 2017 @ Milwaukee Bucks    

18 Nov 22, 2017 @ Charlotte Hornets    

19 Nov 25, 2017 vs. Portland Trail Blazers    

20 Nov 28, 2017 @ Minnesota Timberwolves    

21 Nov 29, 2017 @ Philadelphia 76ers    

22 Dec 1, 2017 vs. Detroit Pistons    

23 Dec 4, 2017 @ Utah Jazz    

24 Dec 5, 2017 @ Portland Trail Blazers    

25 Dec 7, 2017 @ Phoenix Suns    

26 Dec 9, 2017 @ Los Angeles Clippers    

27 Dec 12, 2017 @ Brooklyn Nets    

28 Dec 13, 2017 vs. Memphis Grizzlies    

29 Dec 15, 2017 vs. Los Angeles Clippers    

30 Dec 17, 2017 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers    

31 Dec 19, 2017 vs. New Orleans Pelicans    

32 Dec 22, 2017 @ Brooklyn Nets    

33 Dec 23, 2017 vs. Orlando Magic    

34 Dec 25, 2017 @ Boston Celtics    

35 Dec 27, 2017 @ Atlanta Hawks    

36 Dec 29, 2017 vs. Houston Rockets    

37 Dec 31, 2017 vs. Chicago Bulls    

38 Jan 3, 2018 vs. New York Knicks    

39 Jan 5, 2018 @ Memphis Grizzlies    

40 Jan 6, 2018 vs. Milwaukee Bucks    

41 Jan 10, 2018 vs. Utah Jazz    

42 Jan 12, 2018 vs. Orlando Magic    

43 Jan 13, 2018 vs. Brooklyn Nets    

44 Jan 15, 2018 vs. Milwaukee Bucks    

45 Jan 17, 2018 @ Charlotte Hornets    

46 Jan 19, 2018 @ Detroit Pistons    

47 Jan 22, 2018 @ Dallas Mavericks    

48 Jan 25, 2018 @ Oklahoma City Thunder    

49 Jan 27, 2018 @ Atlanta Hawks    

50 Jan 30, 2018 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder    

51 Feb 1, 2018 vs. Toronto Raptors    

52 Feb 3, 2018 @ Orlando Magic    

53 Feb 5, 2018 @ Indiana Pacers    

54 Feb 6, 2018 @ Philadelphia 76ers    

55 Feb 8, 2018 vs. Boston Celtics    

56 Feb 10, 2018 @ Chicago Bulls    

57 Feb 14, 2018 @ New York Knicks    

58 Feb 22, 2018 @ Cleveland Cavaliers    

59 Feb 23, 2018 vs. Charlotte Hornets    

60 Feb 25, 2018 vs. Philadelphia 76ers    

61 Feb 27, 2018 @ Milwaukee Bucks    

62 Feb 28, 2018 vs. Golden State Warriors    

63 Mar 2, 2018 vs. Toronto Raptors    

64 Mar 4, 2018 vs. Indiana Pacers    

65 Mar 6, 2018 vs. Miami Heat    

66 Mar 9, 2018 @ New Orleans Pelicans    

67 Mar 10, 2018 @ Miami Heat    

68 Mar 13, 2018 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves    

69 Mar 14, 2018 @ Boston Celtics    

70 Mar 17, 2018 vs. Indiana Pacers    

71 Mar 21, 2018 @ San Antonio Spurs    

72 Mar 23, 2018 vs. Denver Nuggets    

73 Mar 25, 2018 vs. New York Knicks    

74 Mar 27, 2018 vs. San Antonio Spurs    

75 Mar 29, 2018 @ Detroit Pistons    

76 Mar 31, 2018 vs. Charlotte Hornets    

77 Apr 1, 2018 @ Chicago Bulls    

78 Apr 3, 2018 @ Houston Rockets    

79 Apr 5, 2018 @ Cleveland Cavaliers    

80 Apr 6, 2018 vs. Atlanta Hawks    

81 Apr 10, 2018 vs. Boston Celtics    

82 Apr 11, 2018 @ Orlando Magic    

Prediction

The Wizards, if healthy, are clearly the third best team in the Eastern Conference. Despite their continued lack of depth, Wall and co. are more than capable of reclaiming their top three seed.

However, that depth can, and likely will come back to bite during the playoffs, which is where the Wizards will gauge true success this season. Unfortunately, a conference finals berth seems no more likely for them this season as the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers remain the cream of the crop in the East.

How far do you see the Wizards going this season? Share your opinion in the comments below!

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