As the season begins to spiral for the Washington Wizards, Tommy Sheppard is about to face his biggest test yet. He cannot revert to the habits of former management.
Just eleven games into the 2020-21 season, and the Washington Wizards are in one of the worst possible scenarios. Going into this season, there were reasons for optimism. Maybe not hopes of a championship, but hopes that they would at least return to playoff relevance. At 3-8 and 14th in the East, the Wizards are closer to lottery contention than playoff contention. And things aren’t getting better.
Russell Westbrook will be out for the next 3-4 weeks with a quad injury. Thomas Bryant, one of the few bright spots this season, tore his ACL and will be out the remainder of the season. And the Wizards still can’t guard a parked car. A playoff return is looking less and less possible.
The pressure has been mounting on the Wizards to prove to Bradley Beal that they can build a winner while he’s in his prime. However, they’ve tried to build a team for the future at the same time. This flawed thinking is finally showing its true colors.
Even with a healthy Westbrook and Bryant, this Wizards team was more likely to finish around 7th or 8th in the East. Now, they’re likely in for another losing season. The Wizards should move on from Bradley Beal. Start over. But that is another story for another time (coming soon).
What the Wizards shouldn’t do is make a marginal, band-aid move. Sure, they could salvage a playoff spot, but ultimately it would do next to nothing for this team.
Former GM Ernie Grunfeld was notorious for making band-aid moves when things started to go south in an effort to climb back into limited relevancy and salvage an otherwise lost season. Among his sins, a first-round pick for Markieff Morris in 2016 and a 22-year-old Kelly Oubre for a 32-year-old Trevor Ariza rental in 2018.
Both trades kept the Wizards in the playoff mix, but neither pushed them towards true contention. Plus, the Wizards lost valuable pieces they could have used to actually build a contender.
Since being hired, Tommy Sheppard has tried his best to prove he is nothing like his former boss, but he has yet to endure what is about to unfold if things continue to unravel.