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Grades for the Wizards midway through the season

We are slightly past the halfway point of the NBA season so this seemed like a fair point to evaluate each player’s individual performance thus far.

Boston Celtics v Washington Wizards
The Wizards tipping off vs the Celtics
Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

Somehow, someway, we have made it past the midway point of the NBA season. It’s been a bit of a long, strange trip for the Wizards getting to this point but here we are. Accordingly, we’ve seen enough sample size from the players at this point to be able to reasonably evaluate their performance thus far.

For this week’s Bleav in Wizards podcast, I collaborated with Brendan and Domo, the hosts of the Wizards of Gallery Place podcast, on midseason grades for each of the players. (The episode is available on their feed as well so if you’re not already checking them out, give them a listen!) These grades were meant to be a reflection of the season as a whole, balancing the different peaks and valleys in the level of play throughout.

Although, maybe doing this directly after the Celtics game lead to some overly harsh grades due to recency bias. But then again, some of you might not find them to be harsh enough. But that’s the exact kind of feedback we’d like to see in the comments section.

Deni Avdija: B-

The defense has mostly been an “A” and the offense has mostly been like a “C-” or a “D+” so I rounded that out to come up with this grade. For a second-year player, the jump he’s taken on the defensive end is impressive. He will need to spend a lot of time this offseason trying to improve his ball-handling and shooting. And his confidence in these areas as well.

Boston Celtics v Washington Wizards
Avdija contesting a shot against Jaylen Brown
Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Kyle Kuzma: A-

He’s one of the few players who have been better than advertised. Even if you believe his recent stretch of improved play is just a fluke or a temporary hot streak, he’s at least met most expectations and that’s been pretty rare overall this season. The rebounding has been good, the passing has been good, and when he focuses on getting to the rim, the scoring has been good.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: C+

He’s so feast or famine. In some games, he plays great perimeter defense and shoots 4-6 from 3. In others, he gets beat off the dribble and shoots 1-7. It averages out to a decent player with decent percentages but the Wizards need more consistency from their starting small forward.

Daniel Gafford: B

He’s good...when he plays. Or when the team plays him. His two big question marks coming into the season were fouling too much and his conditioning. He’s been better in the fouling department most nights but still has work to do. And earlier in the season, when his minutes were more consistent, the conditioning no longer appeared to be an issue. I like Gafford because he knows what he’s good at and sticks to that. We don’t need him trying to expand his shooting range out to the three-point line. Protect the rim and be a lob threat and I’ll be content with that.

Oklahoma City Thunder v Washington Wizards
Gafford attempting to block Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Corey Kispert: B-

This grade would have been a lot lower a few weeks ago but he’s clearly trending up. The defense hasn’t been great but rookies rarely are and he’s at least putting in the effort. The shooting is finally coming along and I enjoy the rest of his offensive game.

Montrezl Harrell: B+

Hard to give anyone who earned MVP chants much lower than this. I’d say he’s mostly performed as well as the Wizards could have expected and deserves an “A” for his on-court performance. I hope he would take more of a leadership role on this team and I just can’t justify giving an “A” to anyone who took a swing at a teammate.

Raul Neto: Z

As the last year’s Acting President of the Raul Neto Fan Club, this one gutted me to say. But he’s been really bad this year. His 22.4% from 3 has been bafflingly bad this year and that hasn’t deterred him from shooting pretty much every time he touches it. It can only get better from here (hopefully).

Bradley Beal: C-

The 29% from 3 is bad, the turnovers aren’t great, the overall scoring is down. I could almost excuse some of that away (new ball, new system, new teammates, etc.) and I have enjoyed the “Point Beal” experiment. However, I can’t get past a guy saying he wants to make the NBA’s All-Defensive team this year and then effectively turning back into a turnstile after 10-15 games. He wouldn’t even make the Wizards’ All-Defensive team, and that’s saying something. Plus, I still can’t give him a pass for his vaccine “gotcha” moment he tried to pull during media day.

Spencer Dinwiddie: C+

His defense has been offensive but I think I can at least somewhat defend his offense. The shooting has been bad but after watching last year’s turnover-fest, I appreciate that Dinwiddie takes care of the ball. He’s around 6 assists per game and below 2 turnovers, which is important next to another guard who can be turnover-prone at times. I’m still going on the assumption that a lot of his play is a result of working back from his knee injury and I factored that into my grade.

Aaron Holiday: C

He’s a third point guard. He hasn’t been bad but I think there are a good number of G League guys who could take his place and not miss a beat. It’s a bad sign that he seemingly can’t beat out Neto with the year Neto is having. Something must be going on there.

Davis Bertans: F

I used more colorful language to explain this grade during the podcast but I think I can convey the gist here in a slightly more appropriate way. If your one positive attribute is your perimeter shooting and you’re barely outshooting Avdija (32.4% to 30.5%, respectively), then we have a problem. Bertans has failed to deliver on the one thing he’s seemingly capable of doing at an NBA level.

Toronto Raptors v Washington Wizards
Bertans shooting over Chris Boucher
Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Rui Hachimura / Thomas Bryant: Incomplete

Bryant hasn’t shot well or defended well but the energy has been good. Rui Hachimura appears to have refined his jumpshot even more. But the sample-size is just too small at this point.

Wes Unseld Jr.: Incomplete

He’s clearly got work to do in terms of his substitution patterns and overall rotations but I think the jury is still out here. He’s a first-time head coach and this can’t be an easy bunch to coach. Plus, we don’t know enough of what goes on behind the scenes to fully evaluate the job he is doing. Is the game plan actually good and the players just can’t execute? We’ve heard comments from him about needing to “dumb down the offense” and perhaps that’s finally starting to work, as they’ve been better recently on that end of the floor. Let’s save his grade for the end of the season.

For a more detailed breakdown of each grade, please check out the entire podcast episode. We also discussed what to do with Bradley Beal, whether they should re-sign him or trade him. Plus, we ran through each of the Wizards’ draft picks over the last decade and it was not an encouraging list.