We are just a couple of weeks away from the start of NBA training camp beginning. The Washington Wizards have had quite a busy offseason with major changes in the front office, as well as the roster. As we start preparing ourselves for the upcoming season, I think it’s important that we set reasonable expectations for what we will see. Here are three reasonable expectations fans should have for this team, this upcoming season:
1. Expect the Wizards to start slow
Yes, we know the roster has been re-worked from last year, with their last season’s top two scorers on other teams, but their schedule at the beginning of the season is brutal. Five of the first six games feature teams that made the playoffs last season. Then when you consider the in-season tournament, the Wizards’ group play will feature three Eastern Conference teams that are expected to be in the upper half of the conference this season (Milwaukee Bucks, Miami Heat, and New York Knicks), and with these teams making up the bulk of the Wizards’ November schedule, their early season schedule looks daunting.
2. Don’t expect Bilal Coulibaly to make an immediate impact
It is difficult to come to a situation with a franchise that is attempting to do some levels of a rebuild. To ask a 19 year-old to take a major role in this league in that situation, is just not realistic, nor is it ideal for his development.
There are elements of Coulibaly’s game that are understandably still raw and will take time to develop. Unlike Summer League, he will deal with a greater level of competition that will do more to exploit some of his weaknesses. The best case scenario for Coulibaly is for him to be slowly integrated into the regular rotation and grow into a regular role, but that will still take time.
3. Don’t expect the Wizards to tank right away
As mentioned, by The Athletic Wizards Beat Writer Josh Robbins a few weeks ago, the Wizards could be embarking on some type of ‘Thunder’-like rebuild, which means they are likely not outright tanking this year or may not even next year. That explains why they brought back the likes of Kyle Kuzma or acquired Jordan Poole, in return for trading away Chris Paul. The long term view of this team is not quite clear, but we may get some glimpses of the vision of this front office as the season goes forward.
While it’s certainly understandable that some fans are longing for this team to go after draft prospects of the likes of heavily-heralded up and coming stars like Cooper Flagg. The reality is this team may not be in a position to get such a player right away. It’s more important that we see progress in drafting and the development of the players already on the roster. Without those components in place, it will be difficult to establish the type of talent that will lead this team to a championship.