What will the Wizards’ Crunchtime Lineup Look Like?

Washington Wizards, Kyle Kuzma. Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports
Washington Wizards, Kyle Kuzma. Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports /

Crunchtime in the NBA is when the game is under five minutes and the lead is at least within five. This is the time of the game where a team needs to put out their best possible lineup to get the win. Looking back to last season, the Washington Wizards were surprisingly used to winning in these clutch moments.

The Wizards were tied for the third best record in the clutch. That might come as a shock due to the fact that they finished with a 35-47 record and missed the playoffs. However, the Wizards showed some fight in the nail-biting moments of games.

The organization made some big changes during the off-season that will change their course of action for crunchtime. Barring any significant injuries, this lineup should be the closing squad for the upcoming NBA season.

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Guard: Monte Morris

One of the newest acquisitions of the off-season should expect to play a prominent role right away. He was a key piece in the last three playoff runs for the Denver Nuggets, as a backup and starter. Morris is not an All-Star, but he excels at taking care of the ball.

Morris ranked in the top five in assist-to-turnover ratio last season. Furthermore, he finished second the year prior. Morris is the perfect complimentary guard for prodiment scorer, such as Bradley Beal.

Kyle Kuzma even believes that Morris is in line for a big season with the Wizards.

Morris should be the ball-handler in the last five minutes of close games this season, which is a spot the Wizards struggled with last season.

Guard: Bradley Beal

Bradley Beal was obviously going to be in this lineup; he is the franchise guy. This off-season saw Beal sign for mammoth five years, $251 million supermax contract extension. However, Beal needs to still prove himself this year.

After an amazing season in 2021, Beal didn’t meet the same standards in 2022. To make matters worse, he needed to get season-ending surgery on his left wrist, which held him to only 40 games.

Beal is only 29 years old and an easily pick backup from his great season two years ago. He will be the go-to-scorer in the clutch and that is the right decision.

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Forward: Will Barton

This was the hardest decision to make. It was between Deni Avdija and Will Barton. The decision to go with Barton simply stems from his playoff experience. He has played in meaningful games, while contributing in those contests.

However, the hope could be that Avdija takes over that role eventually. The defense favors Avdija, which obviously matters, but the offense still needs to catch up.

His three point percentage is still in the low 30%, while Barton remains in the high 30% in the last three seasons. Barton is no slouch in that area, but Avdija takes the cake.

The edge for right now goes to Barton, but that can change very easily.

Forward: Kyle Kuzma

The best Wizards player in crunchtime last season was Kyle Kuzma. Last season was easily his best in the NBA thus far, and he can continue on with that momentum. In the clutch, Kuzma really showed he belonged out there.

With a minimum of 15 games played in crunchtime, Kuzma finished 25th in the league in points per game. That is ahead of players, such as Jimmy Butler, Donovan Mitchell, and Giannis Antetokounmpo to name a few.

He also made the second most threes in these moments last season.

Kuzma proved that he is a mainstay in the closing lineup for the foreseeable future.

Center: Kristaps Porzingis

The big acquisition from last season, Kristaps Porzingis, should be the final piece to the crunctime puzzle. Daniel Gafford is not a bad option, but Porzingis provides more on the floor.

Porzingis only played in 17 games with the Wizards after he was traded, but he was good in that limited time. Also, he never got to play with Beal. That duo can be serious trouble for opponents.

Throughout the summer, Porzingis has been on a tear and looked good during international competition.

This season can be the return of the former All-Star version of him, which the Wizards would love to see.

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