The Washington Wizards undoubtedly lost a lot of talent this summer with the departure of Kristaps Porzingis, Bradley Beal, and Monte Morris. The team is likely going to be worse than last season. However, that doesn’t mean that the Wizards can’t put together lineups that can succeed on the court. One lineup combination that the Wizards can rely on this season is the trio of Deni Avdija, Kyle Kuzma, and Daniel Gafford.
This frontcourt trio provided an intriguing sample size in the 2022-23 season. In 552 possessions together, lineups that featured Avdija, Kuzma, and Gafford together defended at an elite level. These lineups’ defensive efficiency of 111 per 100 possessions would have ranked first in the NBA in the regular season, according to Cleaning the Glass data. (subscription required)
The offensive production with that group on the court was less than ideal as the Wizards only scored 111.1 points per 100 possession, a number that would have ranked 27th in the league.
However, that is still a neutral net rating. Considering the Wizards finished the season with a -1.7 net rating overall, that trio having a neutral point differential is rather impressive.
There is no reason for those lineups to continue their success into the 2023-24 season. Avdija, Kuzma, and Gafford should all improve considering their age. And it’s possible that they will have better defensive personnel around them.
Delon Wright is still on the team, and if he is part of the rotation, he would be a wonderful defensive fit next to this group. He was already the player that played the most minutes next to this frontcourt last season. If Bilal Coulibaly and Johnny Davis end up playing significant minutes next to this trio, the Wizards will be tough to score on.
The advantage of these groups is the fact that it can hide Jordan Poole’s defensive weaknesses. If you surround Poole with this defensive-minded trio with good size, Poole will be able to conserve his energy to the offensive end and be more effective.
If Avdija manages to improve his jump shot next season, these lineups could even have two-way potential. How Wes Unseld Jr utilizes this strong defensive frontcourt will be fascinating to track next season. If the Washington Wizards are going to overachieve and surprise some teams, it will have to be through Avdija, Kuzma, and Gafford.