Washington Wizards: Starting lineup locks, fringe, and potential break-ins

Washington Wizards Rui Hachimura (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Washington Wizards Rui Hachimura (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /
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Washington Wizards Ish Smith.
Washington Wizards Ish Smith. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images) /

Potential Break-ins for the Washington Wizards Starting Lineup: Davis Bertans, Ish Smith

If either of these two Washington Wizards works their way into the starting lineup this season, the team will either be dealing with injuries or things will just be getting wacky. I’m hoping for the latter, obviously.

With the starting small forward position up for grabs, maybe the Wizards should start looking at options other than the obvious. Maybe they should start looking at Davis Bertans. Although Bertans spent most of last season working coming off the bench — he even received a couple of votes for Sixth Man of the Year — the Wizards should consider sliding him into the starting lineup alongside Rui Hachimura.

While surrounding Westbrook with inconsistent or unproven shooters like Avdija, Bonga, or Brown might limit the offense, putting him out there with Bertans, Beal, and Bryant will certainly open it up. In 216 minutes played together last season, Bertans, Beal, and Bryant posted an offensive ranking of 118.8 on 62.5 percent true shooting. Add Hachimura, and the group’s offensive ranking rose to 120.6 on 65.3 percent true shooting (102 total minutes together).

Now add Westbrook. The offense would become superpowered, but their defense would be nonexistent. Those same three and four-person lineups mentioned above gave up 117.6 and 129.3 points per 100 possessions, respectively.

Or maybe the Wizards want to go in a different direction. Don’t get bigger. Get smaller. Go with your guards and trot out Ish Smith, Russell Westbrook, and Bradley Beal as a three-guard tandem alongside Hachimura and Bryant. With those four, the Wizards could operate at a blistering pace with a competent group of shooters and ballhandlers. But once again, as seems to be the pattern with these Wizards, the defense would be a concern. When Smith, Beal, Hachimura, and Bryant shared the floor last season, they surrendered 118.3 points per 100 possessionsio.