The Washington Wizards are still playing basketball, and I thought I’d inform you because you may have forgotten about them like the empty La Croix can on your coffee table that’s been there so long it’s basically a centerpiece. “Ignored garbage” is probably the most apt way to describe this team after their hot/lucky start so many months ago.
The only highlight they’ve produced lately was a flagrant foul on Grayson Allen.
A relatively harmless cheap shot on a cheap shot artist who epitomizes everything everyone hates about Duke basketball is always welcome viewing in my eyes, and kudos to Tomas Satoransky for doing what a lot of players would like to do to Allen without breaking Allen’s wrist. Satoransky wasn’t even ejected; he got a flagrant one and was able to finish out the team’s loss to the Bucks.
Honestly, I’d only be half mad if you stopped reading after watching that because the Wizards are so completely, unapologetically futile that it’s depressing. This is the part where I remind you they acquired Kristaps Porziņģis at the trade deadline, and he’s only appeared in 10 of Washington’s 19 games and the team is 3-7 those contests. His stats have marginally improved, though, so there’s that.
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If you’re wondering what this team would look like at full strength, I imagine it’s somewhere around .500 and maybe making a play-in game. The Wizards fans I know, and I know a weird amount of them considering I only spent a summer in DC, are apathetic toward Bradley Beal and really don’t care if he stays or goes.
It’s not a Damian Lillard-Portland scenario where the fanbase is distraught over him playing elsewhere, and the people who are pushing for a rebuild are in denial about how much they’ll miss the best player in franchise history. While I can’t come up with a “Greatest Wizard ever” off the top of my head (I wanna say Wes Unseld?) it’s definitely not Beal.
The issue is Beal and Porziņģis are owed more than $70 million combined next season, and if you add in the $26 million going to Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, it’s a lot of money for two glorified role players, a hornless unicorn, and a guy whose All-Star numbers don’t translate into wins. New GM Tommy Sheppard should treat the entire roster as expendable this offseason and either go all in to surround his “star” with a mixture of players — who I’m not sure exist or are even available in free agency — to complement Beal’s skill set, or gut the team and start a rebuild.
I’m never in favor of tearing down a team after multiple postseason-less years. It’s like when you’re making a cake and it’s going horribly but the only options are ice the damn thing and enjoy the crumbling mess or start all over. At least give Wizards fans a slice of menial success before making them fast for the foreseeable future.
The team’s two young Gonzagans have shown promise as it appears Coery Kispert’s shooting will translate to the NBA, and Rui Hachimura will be a serviceable NBA player if he can stay healthy. I like Deni Avdija’s game, too. However, he, like the two former Bulldogs, needs more experience to develop, and Wiz bloggers have been annoyed with new coach Wes Unseld Jr.’s preference to play vets during the dregs of another disappointing season.
When Sheppard brought in Porziņģis, I wrote that it’s basically a calculated gamble. If the Latvian big man puts up impressive numbers in an expanded role, it could resurrect his value and make him a trade asset for another unsuspecting team dumb enough to think he’s anything more than a niche player. That said, they seem intent on proving he’s what NBA teams think he is.
His role hasn’t been expanded. He’s taking fewer shots per game and playing fewer minutes. I mentioned his stats are up — 21 points per game compared with 19 in Dallas, seven free throws per game compared with five for the Mavs, and 49/32/87 shooting splits, up from 45/28/86 (per BasketballReference) — so what gives? What’s holding them back from unleashing the Zinger?
It could be a concern over injuries because you can’t flip a broken asset, but you can’t flip an asset if its value has lessened; that’s called taking a loss. Maybe they want to save him to see what he looks like next to Beal. OK, then why give Kuzma and KCP all these minutes? Leave it up to the Wizards to buy a fixer upper only to grind more feces into the carpet.
The lone reason I can ascertain from this ambling approach to team building is they’re trying to piss off Beal so he requests a trade. I don’t know why they’d want to lose all leverage, but I rarely have an explanation for why Washington does a lot of the weird shit they do.
They don’t want to be good or bad, they seemingly just want to exist.