UPDATE on July 10, 2020 at 1:45 a.m. ET: The Wizards’ roster will be more shorthanded because Gary Payton II and Thomas Bryant have the coronavirus, according to reports. Garrison Mathews also didn’t make the trip to the bubble due to personal reasons.
The original article is below, but I plan on updating it later Friday or the weekend.
We are heading toward the 2019-20 NBA season restart and it’s time for us to take a look at the players who will be part of the Washington Wizards roster.
Most of the roster is making the trip to Orlando, however Davis Bertans and Bradley Beal will be sitting this one out. Therefore, I’ll admit it. The Wizards’ chances of making the playoffs are even slimmer than ever before.
Still, you never know how things will go after an extended break. The Wizards are a young team that could get back in the swing of things a bit sooner than other teams, if things play out just right. Let’s take a look at the players who are returning for the homestretch of the 2019-20 season:
- Ish Smith (10.5 ppg, 4.8 apg) — Smith should have a good chance to be in the Wizards’ starting backcourt for the rest of the season with Beal out of the picture. He was also averaging a career-high 0.9 three pointers per game on 36.7 percent shooting from deep this season. Hopefully that trend continues in the bubble.
- Shabazz Napier (12.0 ppg, 4.4 apg with Washington) — Napier made a positive impact for Washington right away in the 15 games he appeared in before the season hiatus. He can expect to play heavy minutes in large part due to his three point shooting (1.6 makes per game at a rate of 38.1 percent for Washington). I get that Wizards fans may be hesitant to see a Smith and Napier backcourt for heavy stretches, but it could be Washington’s best hope to win a game or two.
- Jerome Robinson (6.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg with Washington) — Robinson averaged a career-high scoring average in D.C. but that’s over 13 games. I think he will play heavy minutes toward the end of the season restart, but that’s not because the Wizards think they can win games with Robinson, at least right away.
- Issac Bonga (4.6 ppg, 3.2 rpg) — His outputs don’t seem particularly impressive, especially since Bonga started 41 of the 58 games he played. But he is making 40 percent of his threes and over 50 percent of his shots, which certainly should account for something.
- Gary Payton III (3.9 ppg, 2.8 rpg) — Payton, like his Hall-of-Fame inductee father, may be the best perimeter defender on the Wizards. I don’t see him starting games at any point during the season restart barring a rash of injuries. But Payton should find himself getting his fair share of time considering that his defensive rating is better than most of the other players on this year’s Wizards roster.
- Garrison Mathews (5.4 ppg, 1.3 rpg) — The two-way guard averaged 42.9 percent of his three point shots (1.1 makes per game) while averaging just 12.6 minutes per game. If the Wizards make the playoffs this season, it will be because of offensive production and Mathews could very well be part of the reason why.
- Jerian Grant — He has been a major contributor for the Capital City Go-Go G-League team this season and has several years of NBA experience. I don’t see him getting much playing time unless multiple guards are injured or get sick during the season restart.
- Rui Hachimura (13.4 ppg, 6 rpg) — The rookie enters the season restart as the team’s average leading scorer. Expect him to start and play major minutes, at least initially once the games start again. If there’s one thing I’d like to see from him, it’s a more efficient three point shot (27.4 percent). But Hachimura’s athleticism and feel for the game should be a treat to see in August.
- Troy Brown (9.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.3 apg) — The sophomore swingman can expect to play heavy minutes for the rest of the season. I’m not sure if he will start from the beginning or not, but regardless of how Washington performs in the standings, Brown figures to have the most to gain from being a major contributor during the season restart.
- Ian Mahinmi (7.4 ppg, 5.7 rpg) — Le Roi de Normandie was taken out of the rotation shortly before the pandemic shut down the season, but I think the Wizards have to give him playing time, assuming they want to make a run at the eighth seed. He is averaging 16.3 points and 12.6 rebounds per 36 minutes played, and his defensive rating is at 112 points. That may seem very poor, but the Wizards also had the worst team rating of all teams this season, and that rating is the best of all frontcourt players on the team.
- Thomas Bryant (12.1 ppg, 6.8 rpg) — Bryant has the Wizards’ highest rebounding average. He’s also making over 40 percent of his threes while attempting well over one shot per game from long range. He isn’t as sound on the defensive end as Mahinmi has over the long haul, but it will be interesting to see if Bryant plays more minutes simply because he seems to be a more natural three-point shooter.
- Moritz Wagner (9.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg) — Wagner, at least from a positional standpoint, could be a quasi-Bertans replacement. Though he can make threes regularly. Wagner is making just 34.3 percent of his long range shots. Regardless, we can expect to see him play significant minutes for the rest of the season, likely more if Washington is mathematically eliminated from playoff contention early on.
- Anzejs Pasecniks (6.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg) — I think his minutes will increase if and when the Wizards are mathematically eliminated from a play-in playoff round.
- Johnathan Williams (3.2 ppg, 3.9 rpg) — Williams may have started his first few NBA games due to a rash of frontcourt injuries last December. But I don’t think he will play that much, barring additional injuries or sudden defections to the roster.
- Admiral Schofield (3.1 ppg, 1.3 rpg) — The rookie hasn’t had much time at the NBA level yet (27 games). I don’t expect him to get much time in the season restart unless the Wizards are eliminated from playoff contention early on.