Every year we gather our writers together to make predictions about the upcoming season for the Washington Wizards.
In the first part of our series, we discussed what we think the Wizards will do with their 2018 first round pick. Now, in part two we discuss certain benchmarks we think the team will or will not meet in the upcoming season.
Washington will be above average defensively
I’m not gonna lie, I don’t feel great about this prediction based on the Wizards’ performance in the preseason, but I’ll stick with it because it has to change if Washington wants to meet any of their goals this season.
Defensive lapses were a key part of why Washington failed to defeat Boston last season, and Kelly Olynyk’s outburst in Game 7 should serve as all the motivation they need to keep things tighter on the defensive end this season.
The team showed during their best stretch that they can be very good on that end. Between January 1 and the All-Star break, the Wizards had the fourth-best defensive rating in the entire NBA, just a hair behind the Spurs, Warriors, and Jazz. As long as the bench can take a moderate step forward to help Washington to help the starters better manage their energy, it should make things easier for everyone on that end.
I’m not sure if they can maintain a top-five defense for 82 games, but they should be able to at least crack the top-15 this season. - Jake Whitacre
The Wizards sweep the Hawks
I’m going to keep predicting this every year until it comes true, okay?! The Hawks have been the most consistent team in the Southeast post-LeBron, but now that they are rebuilding, the division title is really the Wizards’ to lose. - L.W.
The Wizards will win at least 32 home games this season
Washington was terrific at home during the 2016-2017 season going 31-10 in the friendly confines of Verizon Center, now, the Capital One Arena. Expect the Wizards to be even better at home this season. Now I don’t think the Wizards will have a streak similar to last year’s where they won 17 straight games however I do think the home court dominance will continue. And with a weakened eastern conference, especially at the bottom, they’ll enjoy a total of 10 home games against the Hawks, Magic, Pacers, Bulls, Nets, and Knicks. - Alan Jenkins
The Wizards win the Southeast Division
The Wizards are hunting for their first back to back division title since 1975 and I think they get it. Atlanta, Orlando, Charlotte, and Miami are all either rebuilding or fringe playoff teams and shouldn’t really pose a threat barring something unexpected. The soft division should allow the starters to rest a little more and with that, hopefully the Wizards don’t look as gassed in the postseason as they did last year. - Matthew Gilpin
The Wizards make the Eastern Conference Finals
Washington was just one game away from the Eastern Conference Finals last season, but this is the year that they finally breakthrough for D.C.’s first Conference Finals appearance since 1992. Unfortunately for the Wizards, they’ll run into the Cavaliers and just like in the mid-2000’s, will lose to LeBron. - Alan Jenkins
The Wizards will be a top-five team in three-point percentage
Washington has consistently been one of the more effective teams from deep during the John Wall era, even though the team hasn’t always had a strong emphasis on acquiring or emphasizing outside shooting.
This season, the Wizards are better equipped than ever to be a dangerous team from outside. Bradley Beal and Otto Porter have established themselves as dangerous outside shooters, Jason Smith has stretched out his effective midrange game beyond the arc, and they added Jodie Meeks and Mike Scott to the mix who can let it fly as well. Plus, there’s always a chance John Wall, Markieff Morris, or Kelly Oubre takes a step forward this season.
They still may not shoot at quite as high of a volume as teams like Golden State and Houston, but when they get shots up, they should go in far more often than a lot of other teams around the league this season. - Jake Whitacre