Washington Wizards: Three Big Questions at the Halfway Mark

Washington Wizards, John Wall, Bradley Beal (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)
Washington Wizards, John Wall, Bradley Beal (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images) /
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Forty-one games into the season, the Washington Wizards face some important questions that could dictate the direction of the franchise for the next few months as well as several years.

It’s been a season of ups and downs for the Washington Wizards, with unfortunately more downs than ups. Forty-one games into the 2018-2019 campaign at 16-25, the team finds itself at somewhat of a crossroads with much uncertainty that could dictate not just how the rest of this year goes, but what direction the franchise heads for years to come.

Before we look into those questions, let’s recap the season thus far.

The Wizards didn’t get off to a very good start. The team was 2-8 in its first 10 games and has been trying to dig its way out of that hole ever since. While they’ve been able to put together some impressive wins (Los Angeles Clippers, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, Oklahoma City Thunder), they also have their share of disappointing losses (Cleveland Cavaliers, Atlanta Hawks, and Chicago Bulls).

Additionally, the Wizards have struggled against the Eastern Conference’s elite, going 0-7 against the top-five seeds at present. In the next collection of teams vying for the final three playoff spots (Miami Heat, Charlotte Hornets, Brooklyn Nets, Detroit Pistons, and Orlando Magic), the Wizards have fared just okay with a 4-6 record against that tier.

But this season has been about more than just the Wizards’ lackluster record. At points, it seemed like the locker room was about to blow. Just a month into the season, the entire roster, including All-Stars John Wall and Bradley Beal, was reportedly on the trading block as a result of seeming unresolvable tension.

In the end though, the Wizards hardly made a splash on the trade market. In fact, the most headlines they got for a trade was one that fell through because of a misunderstanding of whether the Memphis Grizzlies were including Dillon Brooks or MarShon Brooks in a deal. In the end, the only trades that took place were relatively low key: A three-team deal that sent Jason Smith to the Milwaukee Bucks and brought in Sam Dekker from the Cavaliers; and a trade with the Phoenix Suns that shipped out Kelly Oubre Jr. and Austin Rivers for Trevor Ariza.

The story of the first 41 games wouldn’t be complete with recounting all of the injuries to impact players. Dwight Howard has played in just 9 games and not expected back for at least another month or two. Wall underwent season-ending heel surgery in late December after being in and out of the lineup. Markieff Morris, who has been a major factor in the team’s rotation, is out for at least a month. Otto Porter was also injured for most of December.

But those injuries have presented opportunities for some of the role players to shine and potentially play themselves into the team’s future. Thomas Bryant has been a pleasant surprise down low in place of the injured Howard, including a 31-point outburst where he went 14 for 14 from the field to go along with 13 rebounds against the Suns. Tomas Satoransky has filled in nicely wherever he’s been needed, whether at point guard for Wall or on the wing for Porter.

Moving forward, there a few big questions the Wizards face in the second half of the season. Let’s dive in.