Washington Wizards 2019-2020 Season Preview: the Brooklyn Nets

Washington Wizards Bradley Beal Joe Harris (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
Washington Wizards Bradley Beal Joe Harris (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images) /

How do the Wizards stack up against the newest emerging contender in the Eastern Conference, in the Brooklyn Nets?

Washington’s record against Brooklyn last season: 2-2

Brooklyn added: Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Taurean Prince, Garrett Temple, Wilson Chandler, Nicolas Claxton, DeAndre Jordan, David Nwaba, Lance Thomas

Brooklyn lost: D’Angelo Russell, Shabazz Napier, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Treveon Graham, Allen Crabbe, Ed Davis, Jared Dudley, DeMarre Carroll

This past offseason, the Brooklyn Nets transformed from first-round exiters to (eventual) title contenders overnight. They lost their lone All-Star since 2014 in D’Angelo Russell but gained a new Big Three in Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and DeAndre Jordan.

Games against the Brooklyn Nets will be entirely new for all involved. Their scheme, strengths, and weaknesses are all different than last season. It’ll take time before teams can properly gameplan headed into a matchup with Brooklyn.

While Durant’s return date is still TBD because of an Achilles’ tear in the 2019 Finals, this team is still loaded with talent, and a sure playoff club in the East. And against the shorthanded Wizards, they may very well look like title contenders, even without Durant.

Irving went 2-0 against Washington last year with the Boston Celtics and had some notable performances in both games. He averaged 25.5 points and 9.5 assists against the Wizards. While the Nets currently don’t have the hype that last year’s Celtics squad did, Irving’s supporting cast is still very very good even with Durnart sidelined. Expect more big performances from him, especially with the Wizards offering little resistance at point guard on the defensive end.

Wizards to Watch

In any matchup against a team loaded with All-Stars, Washington will always turn to their own All-Star. For Washington, Bradley Beal leads the way while point guard John Wall recovers from his Achilles’ injury.

With Durant out as well, there’s a strong likelihood fans get a Beal vs Irving shootout in at least one of the four matchups these teams play this year. Both players are phenomenal scoring talents, and can put the ball through the hoop at will.

And if last year’s results were any indicator of what to expect this season, Beal will get his. Over last year’s four-game series against the Nets, he averaged 26 points on 51 percent shooting from the floor, including this 31-point performance in a late February win against Brooklyn.

New squad or not, Brooklyn’s best defender is Caris LeVert, just as it was last season. If he could do it with LaVert on the team last year, why not again this year. The consistency at the top of their defense makes for a strong chance Beal can reproduce last season’s numbers when these teams meet again in 2020.

Otherwise, games against the Nets will be a good chance to watch rookie forward Rui Hachimura.

Presumably the Wizards starting power forward, Hachimura will go up against the weakest link in Brooklyn’s lineup. While they added Taurean Prince this summer, and have Rodions Kurucs (for now), power forward is by far their weakest position.

At 6’8 and 230 pounds, he already outweighs both of them as a rookie. This may give him an advantage of sorts when the two teams meet. Their first meeting isn’t until February of 2020, either, so Hahcimiura has even more time to bulk up.

Then there’s always the question mark that is Isaiah Thomas. If he’s truly healthy, emphasis on truly, he could play a big part in these games as well. Thomas once lead the league in scoring in the fourth quarter in 2018, and these games may very well come down to the final minute.

Game Predictions

February 1st, 2020: Washington hosts the new-look Nets

Washington and Brooklyn won’t play until 2020, which has its pros and cons. On one hand, by that point in the season, the Wizards’ front office and players will know what kind of team they have. Whether that means a team with Beal or without, competitive or not, expectations will be correct heading into this matchup.

That being said, Brooklyn opens the season series with a win.

February 26th, 2020: Wizards take on Brooklyn at home

For the second time in February, and the second time at home, Washington will take on the Nets. At this point, it’s very likely the team is dramatically altered post-trade deadline. Potentially without Beal, or any other stars like Wall, the Nets cruise to a 2-0 series lead.

March 18th, 2020: Brooklyn hosts the Wizards in garbage time

Garbage time is often a term used to refer to the end of games. Here, it’s referring to the end of the regular season for a lot of contending and lottery teams. Brooklyn could very well be resting some of their stars for a pre-playoff rest. With talent on Brooklyn’s bench, the Wizards grab an inspiring, and anti-tank win and end the season series down 2-1.