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2021-22 Wizards Player Evaluations: Raul Neto takes a step back in year two for Washington

Raul’s second season did not quite live up to his first season with the team. What does that mean for his future with the team?

New York Knicks v Washington Wizards Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

Raul Neto’s season with the Washington Wizards resembled much of what the team’s season was. Some flashes of brilliance, but an overall up and down year. There were some reasonable expectations that Neto would continue to be a key rotational piece for this team after his career year last year, where he posted career highs in PPG, FG%, and eFG%. With that said, things didn’t quite go as well this past season. Let’s look at the ups and downs of his season.

Pros

Neto is an undersized guard who specializes in creating his own shot, particularly getting into the paint. To his credit, he is good at understanding his limitations, especially those that are limited by his size. He is crafty at being able to get to the basket to get his shots.

On the season 45.4 percent of his shots came within 8 feet of the basket, where he shot a respectable 58.5 percent. This also coincides with his effectiveness off the dribble. 55.4 percent of his shots came off of 3+ dribbles, and Raul shot 49 percent from the field in those situations.

Neto’s ability to score off the dribble was a great compliment to lineups where the team could add shooters around him. He was a part of a lineup that posted the 3rd best net rating during the season. This lineup also featured Montrezl Harrell, Deni Avdija, Rui Hachimura and Kyle Kuzma. That lineup also posted the team’s 2nd best True Shooting percentage (63.3 percent). With Deni Avdija’s and Kyle Kuzma’s ability to be ball handlers while also providing some shooting, this showed an effective combination where Neto could be best used.

Cons

For the positives with Neto’s ability to get inside the paint and score regularly, he is not a great outside shooter and that was on display for much of the season. He shot a career-low 29.2 percent from behind the arc, which made him less effective in lineups where there wasn’t as much shooting around.

How bad was his shooting? He only had one game the whole season where he made more than two 3 pointers.

Beyond his shooting, after the Spencer Dinwiddie was traded, Raul was miscast as a starting point guard, and the team did not fare very well. The team would go 6-13 during that stretch capped off by putting up a clunker on national television against the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks. After that game, Neto was replaced out of the starting lineup and taken out of the rotation until the last two games of the season.

Neto struggled to consistently run the team's offensive sets and teams continued to switch him on to bigger players on defense, which constantly compromised the Wizards’ defense.

Future Outlook

Raul has been a serviceable guard off the bench, who provided some exciting moments with his hustle and his grit. As much as he’s an easy guy to root for, the reality is that his limitations make him a player that can be replaced. The team showed some much better play when Tomas Satoransky replaced Neto in the rotation. Perhaps that was an omen for where Raul fits with this roster.

With an expiring contract and a need to bolster this roster, it is unlikely to see Neto back on this roster and even if the team does decide to bring him back on a smaller deal, there are already a number of guards that will be ahead of him in the rotation for him to play the type of role he has played the past two seasons.