Coming off of a forgettable 2021-22 campaign that saw them finish 12th in the Eastern Conference, the Washington Wizards will be looking to bounce back and climb back into the playoff picture this season. The team has missed the postseason in three out of the last four seasons, and when they did make it in 2021, they lost to the 76ers in five games in the first round.
Wes Unseld Jr. is entering his second season as the coach of the team, and he'll be leading a roster that looks a lot different than the one the team had on opening night last season. The Wizards answered one major question over the offseason byto a massive five-year, $251 million supermax contract. Questions about Beal's long-term future in Washington had loomed for what seemed like years, but those can now be put to bed -- for the time being at least.
The team also made some other additions over the offseason, including Will Barton, Monte Morris, Taj Gibson and Delon Wright. Time will tell if those changes will be enough to propel Washington back into postseason contention. In the meantime, here's a quick glance at Washington's offseason, and a preview of what things will look like when the 2022-23 season tips off.
- Traded Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Ish Smith to the Denver Nuggets for Monte Morris and Will Barton.
- Signed Taj Gibson and Delon Wright in free agency.
Selected Wisconsin guard Johnny Davis with the No. 10 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.
Vernon Carey Jr.
Top of the key: Bounce back season for Beal
When it comes to putting the ball in the basket, there are not many players in the league better than Bradley Beal. He averaged over 30 points per game during the 2019-20 and '20-21 seasons, and he was the second-leading scorer in the league behind Steph Curry during that '20-21 campaign. He also boasts a respectable career 37 percent average from long distance. Last year, though, he had a down season.
He was limited to just 40 total games due to injury issues, as he had season-ending surgery on his left wrist in February. In the games that he played, his scoring dropped eight points per performance compared to the previous season -- to 23.2 compared to 31.3 -- and he shot a career-low 30 percent from long range. Some of his struggles could probably be pinned on the wrist injury, and now that he's healthy, the Wizards will be looking for him to regain full form. The fact that they signed him to a huge five-year extension shows that the Wizards believe that Beal has a whole lot of elite basketball left in him, and they'll need him to tap into that if the team is going to make any real noise this season.
Next up: New tandem in town
Other than locking up Beal for the foreseeable future, the biggest move that the Wizards made this calendar year was trading for Kristaps Porzingis back in February. Porzingis is a former All-Star who still has two years and nearly $70 million remaining on his current contract. The duo of Porzingis and Beal figures to be central to Washington's success this season, at least, so it will be extremely interesting to see how they mesh together.
We didn't get any sort of an idea of how the two might play together last season, as Beal didn't play in a single game after Porzingis was traded to Washington. In the 17 games he appeared in for the Wizards after the trade, Porzingis averaged 22.1 points, 8.8 rebounds 2.9 assists and 1.5 blocks per game. Together, he and Beal could provide Washington with a pretty potent one-two punch on the offensive end. Keep an eye on the chemistry between the two players early on in the season, as it could serve as a pretty good predictor of how the entire campaign might play out for the Wizards.
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One more thing: The rookie's role
After being selected 10th overall in June's NBA Draft, it will be interesting to see how much playing time Johnny Davis receives as a rookie. As a sophomore at Wisconsin last year, Davis averaged 19.7 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists per performance. He was named Big Ten Player of the Year and appeared to be the type of guy that could come in and contribute right away, to some extent, on the NBA level. We'll have to wait and see if he's able to do that in Washington, but Davis certainly has some lofty goals for his professional career.
"The main goal is to win as many games as possible, make it to the postseason and win an NBA championship,"back in June. "The individual accolades will come as well, but the main goal is just to win."
Mavericks vs. Wizards, Nov. 10: The Wizards don't have a ton of terribly intriguing games but this one will have some added interest as it will give Porzingis another opportunity to play against the team that traded him earlier this year. Porzingis played against the Mavericks as a member of the Wizards once last season, and he posted 24 points and nine rebounds in a blowout Wizards win.
Clippers vs. Wizards, Dec. 10: This will be John Wall's first game against the Wizards as a member of the Clippers. Wall spent the first decade of his career with the Wizards, and he's still an appreciated figure in the community. Wall played against the Wizards twice as a member of the Rockets, but one of those games was in Houston and the other was in front of a limited crowd in Washington during the COVID-19 pandemic. This game should serve as Wall's true homecoming.
Wizards vs. Nuggets, Dec. 14: The Wizards and the Nuggets swapped four players back in June. The Wizards sent Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Ish Smith to the Nuggets in exchange for Monte Morris and Will Barton. So, this will be a revenge game, of sorts, for all four of those players.