The year 2021 is coming to an end. That gives us some time to review some of the biggest stories from the year that almost was! Today, we’ll take a look at the Top 10 most read pieces on the site in the 2021 calendar year (or more accurately, from Jan. 1 to Dec. 29 barring a sudden viral story). I excluded stats from GameThreads or other open threads. Let’s go!
- No. 1: The Wizards tried to trade for Lauri Markkanen from the Bulls — In late March, the Wizards made a trade with the Chicago Bulls to bring Daniel Gafford to Washington which has worked out well for us. But sometimes, the trades that almost happen but don’t are big stories of their own. For whatever reason, a rumor ended up being the most-read piece on our site this year! If the Wizards were willing to trade a first round pick to Chicago, they could have had Lauri Markkanen here instead. From hindsight, Markkanen was in a contract dilemma of his own and was ultimately able to sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers last August.
- No. 2: The Wizards trade Russell Westbrook for Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Montrezl Harrell — The biggest news story that actually happened involved Russell Westbrook’s trade to the Los Angeles Lakers for three starting quality players in return. Since the trade, Harrell has made the most positive impact, but Kuzma has been a steady shooter and KCP has also been a bigger defensive help.
- No 3: Rui Hachimura unfollows a lot of Instagram accounts — Hachimura took a sabbatical last fall, and it was a bit unusual that he would also unfollow anyone from the Wizards to Russell Westbrook to his favorite hamburger shop and everything in between. Since the post in October, Hachimura is back with the Wizards but has yet to make his on-court debut in the 2021-22 NBA season.
- No. 4: Analysis on the Wizards’ Westbrook trade and Spencer Dinwiddie signing into one mega move — Kevin broke down how the Wizards roster would look after their biggest offseason move last summer. Thanks to the forward depth, Washington was still able to do quite well this regular season despite Hachimura’s absence, Thomas Bryant’s injury and Davis Bertans’ underwhelming performances.
- No. 5: When nearly everyone was wondering where Rui Hachimura was last October — The Wizards’ Japanese star did report to Washington late after having his leave of absence. But he wasn’t seen by at least some players. After some initial confusion, Troy Haliburton of The Washington City Paper noted that a team source informed him that Hachimura was in fact at the MedStar Health Performance Center in Congress Heights working toward his return.
- No. 6: Japan beating France in a pre-Olympics friendly — Before the Olympics, Hachimura played in two friendlies with Team Nippon. First, he looked like Emma Meesseman in a blowout win over Belgium’s men’s basketball team, but the Lions are not an Olympic-caliber team. Against a jet-lagged France team, the Japanese had their win of the year as Hachimura scored 19 points and raced to an early lead.
- No. 7: The Warriors reportedly wanted the Wizards to trade Beal to them last February — The 2020-21 NBA season was a scoring race between Beal and Stephen Curry, who eventually became the scoring champion. And while the Warriors weren’t playoff-bound last season, they did think Beal could have been a Klay Thompson replacement at the right price. That obviously didn’t happen.
- No. 8: The Daniel Gafford trade — Washington didn’t get Markkanen, but they did get Gafford who was anything but a gaffe. Washington also received Chandler Hutchison, who made this Tik-Tok video when the Wizards made the playoffs, which some would call a ... GAFFE?.
CHANDLER HUTCHINSON MAKING FUN OF THE BULLS ON TIKTOK pic.twitter.com/I9aTOVh1nX— txbii ⛄️ (@TorontoDame) May 21, 2021
- No. 9: When the Wizards were interested in Spencer Dinwiddie at the start of free agency — It seems like Washington had their eyes on Dinwiddie all along once they knew that Westbrook was leaving. That said, we couldn’t have guessed that Dinwiddie’s signing would be incorporated as part of the trade as well.
- No. 10: The Wizards could have had Dennis Schroder as their starting point guard instead of Dinwiddie — When Westbrook was looking to get out of Washington, there was one rumor about Schroder, Talen Horton-Tucker and Kuzma coming to the DMV instead of Kuzma, KCP and Trez.
- And an honorable mention: It wasn’t long ago when the Wizards weren’t going to be affected by coronavirus vaccine mandates in other markets — That piece was written in early October. Since then. the omicron wave has shot cases up through the roof. D.C. has an indoor event vaccine mandate on Jan. 15. And also, next month, unvaccinated travelers can’t come into Canada (and play in Raptors games) anymore for the time being as well.