Washington Wizards 2022/2023 Season Preview
Despite a HOT 10-3 start, the Washington Wizards closed the 2022-21 season with a measly 35-47 record. A disappointing result, their campaign marred by injury to franchise player Bradley Beal.
February marked the last time Beal would lace up, his season ended abruptly following a sprained left wrist; eventually requiring surgery to repair a torn scapholunate ligament.
To add insult to injury (pun not intended) the team had to make do without key young forward Rui Hachimura who only played 42 games, missing the first half of the season due to personal reasons.
Past seasons have seen the Wizards head office playing a game of 'point guard roulette'. Experiments with Russel Westbrook and Spencer Dinwiddie leaving much to be desired; acquiring a solid partner for Beal had to be a key priority for the Wizards coming into 2022-23.
The Wizards sent veteran wing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and bench guard Ish Smith to Denver in exchange for Monte Morris (12.6PT, 4.4AST, 3.0RB) and Will Barton III (14.7PT, 3.9AST, 4.8RB) - a deal benefiting both teams.
Morris doesn't carry the star-power of Westbrook or even Dinwiddie but this may become an advantage for the wizards. A fan favourite from Denver, averaging 0.8 turnovers last season, Morris will bring a steady hand to help steer the wizards ship. I think Morris will surprise many people with how well he'll fit alongside Beal. Effective with and without the ball in his hands, Morris' brand of basketball will be more conducive to protecting the ball, limiting turnovers and providing a capable threat from the three point line. His defence is not to be dismissed either.
The Wizards re-tooled around star Bradley Beal (pictured), but Washington's ceiling remains rather low. Credit: CBS Sports
The flipside of the Denver trade landed veteran wing Will Barton. Barton can be inconsistent defensively but excels in his ability to create his own shot opportunities; a skill which the Wizards roster is certainly lacking. While not a star level guy, he will show his value in providing energy and momentum in times where the Wizards sometimes look lost, particularly when Beal is resting.
Trading for Porzingis in January was a great move to put some all-star talent alongside Beal. Having battled a string of injuries during his time in Dallas, a move to Washington will provide Porzingis with a new start. Staring down the barrel of his first full season with Washington, Porzingis is primed to bring much needed versatility on both ends of the floor.
While the Wizards are making moves to best surround Beal with talent, it is evident this team is still behind the curve. A talented starting 3 of Beal, Porzingis and Kuzma may be enough to push the needle upwards on last season but success will be measured by the development of their young talent.
The Wizards role-players have all shown flashes of impactful talent but none feel like they have elevated like we initially hoped. It will be up to these young guys to grow their game if the Wizards have any hope to make it past the play-in tournament this season.
Avdija is the most promising bench guy. Already proving to be a capable defender, he has a clear development path and could bring instant impact. Foremost, increasing his 3 point makes (31.6% on last year) will do wonders to help space the floor for teammates like Barton and Kuzma. Compound this with some off-season conditioning and I'm hoping to see him improve his toughness to better compete at NBA intensity.
It is also worth mentioning we are yet to see what sophomore Corey Kispert is capable of doing, given some time to acclimate to the NBA. There could be something there, too early yet to see.
The Wizards will be going into this season without huge expectations for success. Majority of NBA fans won't expect much and to be honest, past seasons haven't eluded to a huge rise in the ranks. The best case scenario this season would be to steal a play-in spot. I do however think that the off season acquisitions and continued development of their young guys could finally put them on track to begin competing. We could see this team above .500 in 2022-23.
CEILING: 8th seed
FLOOR: 10th seed