The start of training camp is usually a bag of emotions for Wizards fans. On a positive note, NBA basketball is around the corner. But on the flip side, there’s the annual injury that occurs which has the fanbase collectively groaning, “#SoWizards.’ Look no further than here, here, or here.
Washington announced their 2019-2020 training camp roster last week which is set to kick off on October 1st. 20 players were invited to training camp this year but as you know, there’s only room for 15 on the roster. Here are a couple of things to watch out for as the Wizards kick off the 2019-2020 season.
What should we expect from Scott Brooks this year?
Scott Brooks was brought to Washington in hopes of luring Kevin Durant to the Wizards. Even though that fell through, he still inherited a very good team and guided them to the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. But back-to-back seasons where the team underperformed has made the fanbase grow a little restless.
Brooks goes into this season entering the fourth year of a five year deal. Ironically enough, his reputation before he was hired was that of a guy who can develop young talent. Well, he’s going to have tons of young talent on the team this year as Washington is in full rebuilding mode.
The main thing to look out for here is if the veterans get more opportunities for playing time than the younger guys. Year 1 of the front office’s new plan is to develop young talent and see who should be in Washington long-term. But as we saw last year, Brooks has a habit of favoring the veterans over younger players.
What do the Wizards do now at the small forward position?
As mentioned, the annual #SoWizards injury prior to training camp happened just a few days ago. Troy Brown Jr. will miss approximately four weeks which leaves a gaping hole at the small forward spot - leaving the Wizards extremely thin at that position. Brown was likely going to start from Day 1 as he transitioned into the second year of his NBA career but those plans are now on hold for the time being.
You know how professional sports work though - next guy up. The players who’ll benefit the most from Brown’s injury are C.J. Miles and Justin Anderson. In just four seasons, Anderson has already played on three teams and has started just 23 games in his young career. We all know Miles from his days as a #WizardsKiller in both Indiana and Toronto but he’ll turn 32 this season and is clearly not part of the long-term plan. Not to mention, his immediate impact to this team is an unknown as the last time Miles was seen, he was in a walking boot.
If it’s not Miles or Anderson at the small forward spot, that likely means that Rui Hachimura had an outstanding camp. I still don’t think that Hachimura will be a starter from Day 1 but this injury to Brown opens the door for him to be a starter on opening night should he have a good camp. Washington is very thin at the small forward position and Hachimura showed us that he’s more than capable of being a very solid scorer - at least on an international stage.
What’s the mood surrounding the team?
For the first time in nearly a decade, the Wizards are in complete rebuild mode. So, where are the players’ heads at?
Team goals of making the Eastern Conference Finals and winning 50 games are a distant memory. Instead, those goals have changed to keeping Bradley Beal happy and developing young talent. No talk of the playoffs, and no north star for a number wins the team is aiming for.
Training camp will be exciting for some as this is the first time some of these guys will be playing together - not to mention those fighting for roster spots. But for the veterans on short term deals, are they enthused and optimistic about this year or are they already looking forward to the summer of 2020?
This is somewhat of a foreign territory for the Wizards now that for the first time since 2013, the playoffs aren’t even a thought. Will a potential lack of optimism spread rampant throughout the locker room before the season even starts and leave a cloud looming over this team? Or will this team rally together starting this week and make the most of the situation?