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June mailbag answers: Are the Wizards worth watching without Bertans and how will the Mystics make roster replacements?

Here are the answers to the June 2020 mailbag!

Atlanta Hawks v Washington Wizards
Davis Bertans was one of the major reasons why the Wizards were entertaining to watch during the 2019-20 NBA season. But will they still be worth watching without him? Well, they still have Bradley Beal at the moment, right?
Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

Thank you everyone for your questions in the June mailbag. Responses are below. And we’ll have our next one in mid-July as we head toward not one, but two season restarts!

To what extent can the Wizards and other NBA teams checkout draft prospects? (Expatde)

For now, that appears to be up in the air, but the Wizards and other NBA teams will have less film to scout players and they won’t have as many opportunities to see them in person or virtually.. The NBA Draft Lottery is on Aug. 25 and the Draft on Oct. 15.

What are your personal projections about what will happen to/with the NBA during the rest of 2020 and in 2021? (MeToo)

I’m on record saying that I wish that this season is cancelled and that the 2020 WNBA season never happens. That said, I understand that the leagues feel an obligation to continue operations in a world where we have to coexist with the coronavirus.

Though things appear to be on track for the NBA to restart in July, but Florida is experiencing one of the worst spikes of coronavirus nationwide while the state has been one of the most relaxed so far with reopening compared to other states that had bad outbreaks like New York and New Jersey. The league’s decision to play in Florida doesn’t look good with hindsight obviously.

But even with foresight, I saw this coming, and I’m no health expert. If cases continue to spike (which I think it will) and the workers in and around Disney World get it (and some will), that’s going to put players’ and coaches’ health at risk. If one of them gets hospitalized or worse, that could be the final nail in the coffin to end the season early.

As for 2020-21, I’m not sure if we’re going to have an 82-game regular season. The season is expected to start on Dec. 1, but that time also coincides with the start of flu season and a second wave of the coronavirus. I don’t think there will be fans at Capital One Arena next season, especially if cases are very high.

It seems inevitable that a 2020-21 NBA season will have to be played at another “bubble.” But this time, it may be in another location where the management of the crisis is better than Florida’s.

Given that Natasha Cloud and LaToya Sanders are opting out for the 2020 WNBA season, who do you think the Mystics should sign to replace? (Florian Madarasz and James Ivery, email)

This is not a typical WNBA season due to the coronavirus. Given that Cloud isn’t playing this season and that Kristi Toliver is now with the Sparks, the Mystics need to add more guards to the lineup. Leilani Mitchell is a start, but they need another veteran shooting guard if possible.

Will we see EIGHT HORRIBLE losses by the Wizards at the season restart in Orlando? (CzechWizFan)

In one sentence, probably not.

I think it’s important for us to set some expectations for the Wizards at the season restart. We know that this team isn’t built to contend for a title, yet they find themselves in a position to get a playoff berth in this 22-team field. Losing Bertans hurts, but this gives opportunities for players like Garrison Mathews to play more meaningful minues. And if it came down to it, I’d say that Rui Hachimura has a longer future in Washington than Bertans because of free agency.

I don’t think we have to measure the Wizards’ success in Orlando based solely on wins and losses. We should see how players like Hachimura, Mathews, Moritz Wagner, Issac Bonga, and Anzejs Pasecniks play together and with Bradley Beal. Furthermore, there is always a chance that we could see more NBA players decline to play these last few games due to coronavirus concerns, a need to fight for social causes, or both.

Alan Jenkins also had more on this topic below.

Is there going to be any sort of summer league for new draft picks this year? (wizoneword)

Given that the NBA Draft is on Oct. 15, free agency is on Oct. 18 and training camp for the 2020-21 NBA season is supposed to start on Nov. 10, I would say no.

Is the start of the 2020 WNBA season pertinent to the start of the NBA season? (Ebenezer Famutimi, email)

Officially, no. The WNBA season’s timing is not directly dependent on what the NBA does. Having said that, it would look weird if the W decided to go full steam ahead with the 2020 season while the NBA suddenly cancels its current season or vice versa.

Have the Wizards changed their scouting structure and approach since Tommy Sheppard took over for Ernie Grunfeld? (MeToo)

I’d say that the Wizards are now actively looking for slightly older draft picks with a track record in college, as opposed to one-and-done athletes. For example, the Wizards selected Hachimura, a third-year college player with their first round draft pick as opposed to a one-and-done.

I think we can expect to see more moves like this with draft picks. That isn’t to say that Sheppard won’t draft a college freshman. Rather, he’s likely looking for players with a more established resume, other things being equal.