There are plenty of reasons for hope with the Wizards this season. They took a significant step forward as a team last season and with plenty of uncertainty at the top of the East, there’s an opportunity for them to build on last season’s success.
But as we’ve learned throughout the years, there are plenty of ways things can go wrong, so I asked around to see how people think this season could go wrong. Based on those responses, here is a look at all the ways this season could go wrong.
#1: Lil B Curse
Remember, the Lil B Curse is still undefeated. The only reason Kevin Durant was able to get free of the curse is because he joined the Warriors team last summer.
Thankfully, the Wizards have avoided the curse so far, even in spite of Kevin Durant getting injured during the Warriors’ game in Washington last season. That said, now that they’re a higher profile team, they have to be even more vigilant about not upsetting Lil B. If not, they might as well just throw this season in the dumpster.
Each of the starting 5 suffers an ACL tear in the first game, that'd probably hurt our chances. Would love to see the Oubre run tho— Ryan Baker (@Rbake97) September 13, 2017
Anything leading to John Wall playing less than 70 games. Anything leading to any of the other top 7 guys playing less than 60 games.— Jacob (@jsfishnbuddy) September 14, 2017
Injuries to wall or beal— Varun Shankar (@TeaKadaRaaja) September 14, 2017
Washington was able to succeed despite limited bench production thanks in large part to the health of their starters. No starter missed more than six games last season.
Unless the bench takes a big step forward next season (which doesn’t seem likely at this point), they’ll need similar durability again this season. Even injuries to some of the bench players could spell issues due to the lack of support behind them. If guys like Sheldon Mac and Chris McCullough are forced into the rotation because of health issues, that could be a big problem for Washington.
#3: Big man regression
Three of Washington’s four best big men (Marcin Gortat, Ian Mahinmi, and Jason Smith) will be 31 or older by mid-November. You can’t expect any of them to improve next season, other than Mahinmi just getting on the floor more often.
At best, the three of them will provide similar production to last season, but it wouldn’t be surprising if at least one of them falls off a bit as they get older. And don’t forget: As players get older, they also get injured more often.
In a summer that featured a lot of player movement, Washington prided itself on keeping their core together. John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, and Marcin Gortat are going into their fifth year together as teammates. That could play to their advantage at the start of the season, since they can hit the ground running while other teams are trying to integrate new pieces and find their balance.
Still, continuity is a two-edged sword. Sometimes, things can get a little stale, especially if certain players feel like they’re boxed in and that can lead to tension and division in the locker room.
#5: Shooting regression
It’s hard to get three guys who post career-best years shooting the ball all in the same season, but Washington was very fortunate last season. Otto Porter had a huge year, and Markieff Morris and Jason Smith also took big steps forward as they increased their range.
But now that the league knows they can knock down threes at a higher rate, teams will be much less inclined to leave them open this season. That means all three will have to work on getting off clean shots off with less air space or figuring out ways to leverage the space they create to open driving lanes for others.
#6: Early season trips out West
The NBA has retooled the schedule this season, and as a result, both of Washington’s West Coast trips come in the first two months of the year, rather than the last two months like some previous years. If Washington stumbles out of the gates on the road against some of the league’s best, it could set a bad tone for the rest of the season.
#7: John Wall mid-career crisis
Wall is heading into his eighth season doing the same job, which is pretty remarkable for a millennial. You gotta wonder if this is the year he stops and thinks about what he’s doing with his life.
John Wall, swept up in the Cowboys' successful season, joins the secondary to replace injured cornerbacks.— DeAaron Fox in Socks (@BallFromGrace) September 14, 2017
John Wall realizes his name literally means "bathroom stall" and spends the second half of the season mired in an existential breakdown— Clinton Portishead (@Rob__Sly) September 14, 2017
#8: Oubre distracts the team with his good looks
Whole squad spends the entire season admiring how handsome Oubre is.— Jesse Dorsey (@JDorsey33) September 14, 2017
#9: Meddling from Danny Ainge
Otto Porter gets elected to the House of Representatives via a write-in campaign started by Danny Ainge— Lyndie (@alyndanoel) September 14, 2017
If Ainge can’t get his son elected, he’s going to have to pivot to something else.
#10: Who knows, maybe the East gets better
The Cavaliers, Celtics, and Raptors should still pose a major threat for the Wizards in the regular season. Plus, Milwaukee could take a step forward this season with Giannis Antentokounmpo, Malcolm Brogdon, a full season of Khris Middleton, and whatever they can get out of Jabari Parker. Plus, the Heat are adding Kelly Olynyk to a squad that finished the season on a 30-11 tear without Justise Winslow.
Granted, a lot would have to fall in place for all five teams to be on equal or better standing with Washington, but it isn’t impossible.