For the first time since 2010, the Wizards are in a complete rebuild. With John Wall sidelined for the upcoming season, Bradley Beal will step into the role as the team’s centerpiece. But with guys like Otto Porter, Tomas Satoransky, and Kelly Oubre Jr. gone, he won’t be working with the same supporting cast.
One thing is for sure as the 2019-2020 season looms - there’s more questions than answers right now.
What are the Wizards going to do with Bradley Beal?
Bradley Beal has said on multiple occasions that he wants to stay a Wizard. The team clearly has no interest in trading him as they just offered the All-Star an three-year extension for $111 million dollars and have ignored all phone calls from potential suitors.
As of now, things with Beal are fine but what happens when the season starts and reality kicks in as the losses start to pile up? Will Beal be content playing 35+ minutes per night trying once again to carry this team to the 8-seed in the Eastern Conference?
Fortunately, the Wizards are in a good position in that they don’t have to make a decision on Beal at this very moment. The shooting guard is still under contract for two more years and potentially five should he sign the extension. But there’s a scenario that could complicate things. If Beal plays out the entire season for the Wizards and finally gets All-NBA honors, he’ll be in line for a five-year supermax deal totaling $247.3 million dollars. With Wall’s contract on the books and looking unmovable, do the Wizards really want to have two supermax guys on their roster eating up a majority of their cap space for the near future?
From a financial standpoint, It would be ludicrous for Beal to do anything but bet on himself this season and decline the three-year extension offered to him a month ago. As for on the court, will his frustrations boil over should the Wizards stumble out of the gate? Washington doesn’t have to rush to make a decision but one thing is clear, they better get things sorted out sooner rather than later as their phones will be ringing off the hook come January and February with teams inquiring about Beal.
What are the Wizards going to do with Scott Brooks?
When General Managers start a new gig, they usually like to handpick their own head coach. Whether it’s due to financial reasons or familiarity, Tommy Sheppard is opting to keep Scott Brooks as the team’s head coach.
Brooks has underachieved with the roster he’s had over the past two years creating some rumblings from the fanbase. Even though the last two seasons have been rocky, the front office has given Brooks a vote of confidence evidenced with the extra resources being provided to him.
If Brooks is going to win back the portion of the fanbase that wrote him off, he’ll have to start executing on what he was supposedly brought to Washington to do - develop young talent. Washington’s head coach hasn’t lived up to his billing as a player developer since arriving in D.C.
Kelly Oubre, who’s no longer in Washington, never turned into his protege in Trevor Ariza and what people thought would be Washington’s next 3-D guy. Brooks reluctantly played Tomas Satoransky at first and if it wasn’t for John Wall injuring his knee during the 2018 season, the #FreeSato movement wouldn’t have taken place. And let’s not forget about Thomas Bryant who was buried on the bench behind Dwight Howard and Ian Mahinmi and was only unleashed after Howard injured himself and once they came to the realization that Mahinmi was unplayable.
The roster is stockpiled with young guys like Troy Brown Jr., rookie Rui Hachimura, and Moritz Wagner for him to regain his reputation as a player developer. The question is, will he put these guys in positions to grow and let them learn through their mistakes or will he opt to play veterans once again to hopelessly chase a playoff spot?
What should we expect from Rui Hachimura this year?
Our own Marcus Atkinson thinks that Rui Hachimura will be a starter on day one. Hachimura will get plenty of opportunities to show what he’s capable of next year but I don’t think he’ll be a starter until later in the season. With that said, Hachimura is in a favorable situation in the sense that he’ll likely have a long leash and won’t have to look over his shoulder after committing some inevitable rookie mistakes.
Hachimura has been lights out so far in pre-FIBA World Cup friendlies and is raising eyebrows amongst Wizards fans. He has the ultimate green light as Japan’s best player and has shown that he can score in bunches evidenced by his 31-point output against Germany this past weekend.
The rookie won’t have these kind of open looks in the NBA but the important thing for him is to show that he can contribute as a solid role player. Hachimura’s bread and butter is in the mid-range so if he can score between 8-10 points a night and shoot somewhere in the ballpark of 40 percent, I think we’ll all be pleasantly surprised. But of course, if you can’t shoot threes in today’s NBA, you may as well show yourself to the bench. Hachimura wasn’t a great three-point shooter in college last year but is determined to show that he can knock down shots from deep.
To me, Hachimura’s ceiling next year feels a lot like what we saw from Thomas Bryant in his breakout season last year. That of a very solid rotation player averaging around eight points and five rebounds a night. And if he can take a step back and knock down three-pointers at a clip of 35 percent or above, that’ll just be the cherry on top.
Will the veterans on one-year deals hinder the development of younger players?
After a horrendous injury and missing out on a supermax deal in 2017, Isaiah Thomas has bounced around the league and has struggled to find his footing. He signed a one-year show me deal in Washington this past summer in hopes that it’ll lead to a richer contract in 2020. Will Thomas’ desire for a larger deal next year come at the expense of others?
Troy Brown Jr. got some run at point guard in the Las Vegas Summer League this past July. It’s clear that Brown is most comfortable with the ball in his hands. Will he continue to get those same opportunities to trigger the offense once the season begins or will Brown be forced to play off the ball? And with Thomas playing on a show me year contract, will he be looking to make the right play or pad his stats with one eye towards the future?
Same thing with C.J. Miles. At this point in his career, he’d be best suited as a three-point specialist on a contending team, not a team in the midst of a rebuild. Will Miles turn into a chucker next year? It might not be the worst thing as he’s bound to have a few games where he catches fire but if it comes at the expense of Troy Brown and Rui Hachimura, then it becomes a problem.
What are the true goals for this team?
In year’s past, we could hear the front office scream from the rooftop that 50 wins and an Eastern Conference Finals appearance was the goal. This year, I have a hunch that we’re not going to hear that same message.
For the first time since early in the decade, the franchise is in a rebuild. Does the coaching staff actually think that this roster can sneak up into the 8-seed and make the playoffs or will giving the younger guys reps and being competitive on a nightly basis be sufficient?