The Wizards’ 2016-17 season schedule has been released. We gave a quick rundown of the national TV games, and when the Wizards will host some of the league’s big-name teams.
These 10 games in particular are those that intrigue me the most for various reasons. Some of them are against the NBA’s best. But some are against teams that should be fun to watch, even if they aren’t expected to win much right now.
Wednesday, November 2 vs. Toronto Raptors
The Wizards’ early schedule will be front loaded. And they start their season off against one of the East’s best teams in the Toronto Raptors.
As you may know, the Wizards swept the Raptors in a first round playoff series in the 2014-15 season. That sounds like ages ago because both teams went in opposite directions since then.
In 2015-16, the Wizards missed the playoffs while the Raptors clinched their first Eastern Conference Finals appearance in franchise history. Let’s see if we can flip the script again tonight.
Wednesday, November 9 vs. Boston Celtics
Al Horford “almost” signed with the Wizards until Jae Crowder decided to throw some dirt on them. Hopefully, that encourages John Wall to play like this:
Friday, November 11 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
LeBron James and the defending champs come to town, and we get to see the John Wall vs. Kyrie Irving show. If the Cavs are still hungover from winning the championship, the Wizards may be able to pull an upset.
After this past season, I’m sure plenty of folks will say that Irving is the better point guard, but in Washington, we have to go the other way. It’s what we do.
If you miss this game, the Cavs will be back on February 6. Hopefully they’ll still bring their A team then so Wall can do something like this:
Thursday, November 17 vs. New York Knicks
I am not putting the Knicks on this list because Carmelo plays here, or because they seem to be putting their chips on Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah to help Anthony get to the playoffs for the first time since the 2012-13 season.
I am most interested in Kristaps Porzingis’ development. He had a surprisingly strong 2015-16 season where he averaged 14.3 points and grabbed 7.3 rebounds a game. This season, he will take a larger role — even with some out-of-their-prime former Bulls joining him.
The Knicks will be back on Tuesday January 31.
Friday, January 6 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
The Wolves have the last two NBA Rookies of the Year with Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns. Minny isn’t going to win the title, but they will be a fun team to watch and won’t break your budget.
Tuesday, January 10 vs. Chicago Bulls
Seeing Dwyane Wade in a Bulls jersey will be surreal to me. That alone gets to the Top 10. But otherwise, he still makes a solid duo partner with Jimmy Butler who has assumed the role of being their number one option now that Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose have left for New York.
The Bulls will be back on Friday, March 17.
Saturday, January 14 vs. Philadelphia 76ers
With Sam Hinkie out of town, the front office will now start trying to be a bit more competitive with their bumper crop of young players. I don’t anticipate them making the playoffs, but there should be a bit more roster stability now.
I’m looking forward to seeing how Ben Simmons fits in with their other young players like Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel.
This is the only time Washington is playing Philly at home this season, for what it’s worth.
Thursday, February 2 vs. Los Angeles Lakers
With Kobe Bryant finally retiring, the Lakers can now really begin to rebuild.
Don’t expect to see them make the playoffs, but a young backcourt of D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson, combined with a frontcourt of Julius Randle and Brandon Ingram will be fun to see.
I’m also intrigued with Luke Walton coaching them. If he can get this core to the playoffs in 2017 or 2018, the Lakers could be back in business. They will also probably be built in a much different way than in the past — with a large core of homegrown talent.
So watch this game because this may be a team of the future you’re watching.
Monday, February 13 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
Kevin Durant is no longer on the Thunder, but they still have Russell Westbrook for another three seasons. There’s no doubt that Westbrook would have been the undisputed franchise player for any team except for the ones with LeBron and KD. Unfortunately for his franchise star-ness, he had to play on the team that KD was on.
This game in my opinion is the best PG vs. PG matchup we’ll see at Verizon Center.
Tuesday, February 28 vs. Golden State Warriors
The 2015 NBA Champs arrive with Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant who have won each of the last three MVP awards. Expect a lot of booing. Not because it’s the Warriors who are now officially a bandwagon team. It’s because Kevin Durant “betrayed his hometown.”
I personally don’t care. Last season, the Wizards lost at home to the Dubs, but Wall and Stephen Curry still put on a show I’ll remember for a while.