The Washington Wizards were already shorthanded. Now they’ll officially be without Bradley Beal in Orlando.
It was never going to be easy for the Washington Wizards to capitalize on their final eight games and make a surprise playoff push in Orlando. The schedule makers didn’t do them any favors. Then Davis Bertans opted out of the restart. Now Bradley Beal has decided to sit on the sidelines, as well.
“Bradley did everything possible to be ready to play, but after closely monitoring his individual workouts we came to the conclusion that it was best for him to sit out the upcoming games in Orlando and avoid the risk of further injury,” said Wizards General Manager Tommy Sheppard. “Although he was able to play through the majority of the season with the injury, the layoff from March until now did not leave any of us feeling comfortable that he would have enough time to be ready to perform at the extremely high level we are all accustomed to seeing and agreed that not participating in the games in Orlando was the right decision.”
It’s a bummer, for sure, but keeping Beal healthy should be priority number one. A playoff push would be fun, but this team can’t make much noise in the playoffs against the NBA’s juggernauts, anyways.
The focus has always been on next season, as it should be. They’ll finally get John Wall back and should have a chance to be competitive in the East once again. Allowing Bertans to sit out of the restart proved that they’re looking ahead. So does this cautionary move with Beal.
But what does it mean for the rest of the team?
How will Bradley Beal’s absence affect the Washington Wizards in Orlando?
For one, it means that an extremely young team just got younger. In Orlando, the Wizards will only have four players over the age of 25: Ian Mahinmi, Ish Smith, Shabazz Napier, and Jerian Grant.
The NBA may have canceled Summer League this year, but the Wizards are determined to make it happen anyways. And it shouldn’t be too surprising that they’re leaning on their young guys.
At the beginning of the season, the Wizards were clear about their intentions. This season was to be all about development. And it was.
Even though Beal’s incredible scoring performances dominated any and all Wizards-related conversations, the team was committed to letting Rui Hachimura, Isaac Bonga, and Moe Wagner grow, even if the results weren’t always perfect.
In Orlando, they’ll have a unique opportunity to see what this young core can do without the three best players currently under contract. Across the board, players will be given more responsibility than ever, all while facing some of the NBA’s toughest competition.
They’ll finally get a really good look at what they have in Troy Brown Jr, whether Thomas Bryant can truly be the answer at center, and where they can best use Admiral Schofield. In the grand scheme, these questions are more important to the Wizards than whether they can make the playoffs this season.
With the focus is on the future, it makes sense to move on from this defunct season and use the restart as one last opportunity to figure things out before a final tune-up this offseason.
Next season, we return to high-level basketball with Wall, Beal, Bertans, and the rest of the crew.
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