Washington Wizards: 10 Reasons To Be Optimistic About Next Season

Nov 4, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3) celebrates with Wizards guard John Wall (2) and Wizards center Marcin Gortat (13) after making the game-winning basket against the San Antonio Spurs in the final second of the fourth quarter at Verizon Center. The Wizards won 102-99. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 4, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3) celebrates with Wizards guard John Wall (2) and Wizards center Marcin Gortat (13) after making the game-winning basket against the San Antonio Spurs in the final second of the fourth quarter at Verizon Center. The Wizards won 102-99. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /

The Washington Wizards’ summer didn’t go according to plan, but here are 10 reasons why you should remain optimistic about next season

Okay, so the Washington Wizards‘ off-season didn’t go quite the way you expected.

Instead of Kevin Durant or Al Horford, you were gifted Ian Mahinmi and Trey Burke.

In fact, given how long you had planned for this summer to follow a certain type of path, it’s very easy to feel angry, betrayed, disheartened, bewildered, and any other negatively connoted adjective you can think of towards your fandom.

I understand you completely, and I’m right there with you. Actually, I almost titled this piece ’10 Characteristics To Look For In Your New Favorite NBA Team’.

But as loyal Washingtonians, you’ve proven year after year that when it comes to sports, you choose just a touch of masochism.

Which means you aren’t going anywhere and neither am I.

So if we must stay put, and if we must watch another mediocre Wizards product next season, we should find the silver lining of optimism. It must exist, because fan bases across the country, in much bleaker situations than our own, greet opening day with a big smile and a promise of hope.

I’m ready to make the case that when it comes to D.C. basketball, all was not lost when KD forgot of our existence.

Here are the 10 reasons why you should look forward to the upcoming season (in descending order of making you feel warm and fuzzy inside):

10. Scott Brooks‘ Redemption Tour

Look, I almost considered making Randy Wittman’s departure a separate entry but let’s combine them here for the sake of space.

Brooks was hired this off-season on a pretty hefty deal (five-years/$35 million) to bring about change from a tired regime under his predecessor.

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He’s a player development whiz, and despite .620 winning percentage in seven years in OKC (not to mention 73 additional wins in the playoffs), he has much to prove about whether he can run a functional and efficient offense to accompany his stifling defensive schemes.

He spent his year off traveling the world watching different styles of play and even gave an obligatory shout out to analytics, which hopefully means he has the foresight that the Wizards need more free throws and threes, and many, many fewer mid-range jumpers.

9. Perimeter Youth Movement

In conjunction with Brooks’ arrival, the Washington Wizards have not wholly addressed their perimeter deficiencies outside of a feeble pass at Nicolas Batum.

This could be looked at in two different ways; A. Ernie Grunfeld has no clue what he’s doing or B. the faith is now being placed in the hands of the youngsters that Brooks was brought into develop.

I’d like to stick with the latter, only because we’ve been clamoring for so long about bottling up the future potential.

For now, the primary contributors are expected to be John Wall (25), Tomas Satoransky (24), Bradley Beal (23), Otto Porter (23), Trey Burke (23), and Kelly Oubre (20).

We’ve asked for this and now that path is open. The rest is up to them, but it should be incredibly exciting to watch.

8. No More Dead Weight

One of the huge problems with the Washington Wizards the last few seasons was the lack of depth behind a pretty successful starting unit.

For years, we’ve had too many players on the roster that just can’t play and it’s hurt the team’s depth tremendously.

Last season, the intended starting five (Wall-Beal-Porter-Morris-Gortat) outscored opponents by 7.2 points per 100 possessions, which would’ve ranked fourth in the NBA behind Golden State, San Antonio, and Oklahoma City, per Basketball-Reference.

Yet guys like Garrett Temple, Gary Neal, Kris Humphries, and Drew Gooden would hit the floor and leads would disappear into flames quicker than a Durant Thunder jersey.

Looking at the roster makeup now, there doesn’t appear to be any severely weak links (with apologies to Marcus Thornton).

Anyone can play when called upon and Washington should be able to withstand injuries and slumps more ably.

7. Markieff Morris’ Real Debut

Morris’ value was absolutely trashed last season after a great deal of turmoil in Phoenix but the Washington Wizards got a young, productive player with a chip on his shoulder.

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The early stages of his time in D.C. were admittedly rough, but after entering the starting lineup on 2/29, his performance as well as the team’s took a significant uptick.

Morris shot nearly 50 percent from the field and had a True Shooting Percentage of 56.

The team outscored opponents by 4 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor and allowed a field goal percentage of 62 at the rim vs. 65 percent when he was on the bench, per NBAwowy.

His rebounding and rim protection were critical and while the offensive game had its ebbs and flows, getting a full summer of work within the offense and with his teammates should do wonders for that progression.

6. Locked-In Core

This was a large part of the pitch to Al Horford, and it is a vital one for continuity down the line.

After Beal’s newly inked max contract was made official, the Washington Wizards are in great position to build on their current foundation.

Beal obviously has five years left on his deal, while Wall, Gortat, Morris, Oubre and Satoransky are all on the books for three more years at extremely reasonable prices.

Only Porter has an impending free agency in 2017 and he’ll be restricted, meaning Washington can use this season to gauge whether he deserves a long-term commitment or if it’s better off to part ways.

5. Flexible Trade Partner

Which brings me to my next point; if it turns out that this isn’t quite the unit to get it done or that the curious decision to sign Ian Mahinmi to a big deal while retaining Gortat plays out exactly as expected (with neither big able to play together or happy with his minutes), then Washington has several attractive pieces that can be moved for a more bonafide player.

I’ve floated ideas about Gortat to Houston for Trevor Ariza and K.J. McDaniels.

I’d also be interested in Danilo Gallinari from Denver or Rudy Gay from Sacramento as scoring wings who don’t fit their current teams’ directions.

I am very interested to see how Brooks employs the big man rotation, given that Porter needs minutes at the four as well but if it turns out to be a logjam while injuries on the perimeter are lacking, moves are available.

4. Beal’s Training Regimen

So it’s possible the Washington Wizards don’t need to make any trades to shore up the perimeter because Beal actually achieves the impossible and plays 75 games next season.

He has dealt with stress reactions in his leg in each of his four professional seasons but it sounds like Beal is finally taking the necessary measures to address this in the off-season.

He even passed up an opportunity to play for Team USA in Rio (though I badly wish he had committed to it) and is working with his trainer Drew Hanlen to change his running habits and strengthen that leg even further.

Throw in Wall’s double knee surgeries that should get him springier than he has been in years as well as the jettisoning of injury-plagued veterans like Nene, Alan Anderson (unclear if he’s on the team or not), and Drew Gooden and this team could go from being no.1 in man-games lost to the bottom of the table.


One of the newcomers who will be filling rotation spots of departed old heads is the 2012 second round pick from FC Barcelona and the Czech Republic.

He’s currently most famous in these parts for being drafted four spots ahead of Draymond Green but Sato is an absolute monster who I might either adopt or name my first-born son after.

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He can play and defend both guard spots at 6’7” and is comfortable shooting off the catch or bounce alike.

Satoransky won’t overwhelm people with his athleticism but he has a deft ability to get to the rim (similar to someone like Ricky Rubio) but his frame allows him to actually finish.

Honestly, I can’t tell if I’m better suited to run his PR or be his attorney, but I’m all in on this guy and if it doesn’t pan out there may be no coming back for me.

2. Unimproved Eastern Conference

It’s true – the Washington Wizards didn’t make any flashy moves.

They did shore up the bench, help out weak areas, and also gave Jason Smith $16 million guaranteed. But what have the rest of the competitors really done?

Two teams who should be undoubtedly better are Boston and Indiana, the latter of whom I still don’t believe is better than a healthy Washington squad.

Atlanta lost Teague and Horford (and I’m not buying Dwight Howard as a replacement), Miami lost Dwyane Wade, Chicago signed Wade (+ Rajon Rondo), Toronto is running it back minus Bismack Biyombo, Orlando wants to start a full lineup of shot blockers who can’t score, Detroit is still counting on Reggie Jackson, and the Knicks…in 2011 would challenge this year’s Warriors.


1. John Wall

Next: Building a Star In Washington: John Wall

And here’s why. We still have #2. Get on his back and let’s see where he takes us.