We all knew this was going to be a tough year for the Washington Wizards. It’s going to be a transition season in which they will end up losing a ton of games. That is fine. What is not fine, however, is not even giving yourself a chance to compete due to roster construction.
The roster imbalance on the Wizards is absurd. There are only two traditional centers on the roster; Daniel Gafford and Mike Muscala. And Muscala, for some reason, doesn’t even seem to be a part of the rotation. So when Gafford was ruled out before the game against the Boston Celtics last night, every single Wizards fan knew what was about to ensue.
The Wizards elected to go small in their starting lineup by inserting rookie Bilal Coulibaly in Gafford’s stead. This makes sense as it gives Washington an opportunity to switch defensively, considering the Celtics play five-out offense and don’t typically physically overwhelm their opponents.
This didn’t work. The Celtics are an incredibly talented team that most likely would have won last night no matter what the Wizards did. Yet, it’s unacceptable that the Wizards were completely run off their home floor because they have absolutely no physical presence, size, or interior defense.
Deni Avdija and Danilo Gallinari ended up playing “center” for Washington last night. No NBA team can find success against a good opponent with that center rotation, especially if your backcourt duo is Jordan Poole and Tyus Jones.
Poole and Jones are both undersized guards who struggle defensively. They are not going to offer any resistance out on the perimeter, especially against bigger opponents in a switching scheme. This meant that Boston had an open driving path to the basket every time, meeting with no resistance at the point of attack or at the rim. They managed to score 108 points in three quarters while playing in second gear.
The Washington Wizards front office owes it to themselves to help this team be competitive by trading for another center. Daniel Gafford will miss more games or will get in foul trouble when he is playing.
This young, inexperienced team needs a defensive anchor behind them. Otherwise, this defense will be absolutely horrendous, and the Wizards will keep on losing big. For the development of young players, they need to play in close, competitive games. Even in a transitional, rebuilding season, the Wizards need to do their best to inspire hope in the fanbase, and getting blown out in your home court is certainly not going to achieve that.