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?
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
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.
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.
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
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!