The Washington Wizards problem nobody is talking about

The Washington Wizards being in a rebuild is masking the real issue: They don't have a star player, nor do they have a clear pathway to acquire one.
Washington Wizards, Kyle Kuzma, Jordan Poole, Bilal Coulibaly, Deni Avdija
Washington Wizards, Kyle Kuzma, Jordan Poole, Bilal Coulibaly, Deni Avdija / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages

The 2023-24 season was the worst in Washington Wizards franchise history. After ridding themselves of the Bradley Beal contract last summer, they entered a rebuild, and the result was a 15-67 record.

Led by Kyle Kuzma and Jordan Poole, this Wizards team floated around the bottom of the Eastern Conference for the entire year. Kuzma put up solid stats, but Poole completely flopped.

Deni Avdija and rookie Bilal Coulibaly were bright spots, but other than that, there wasn’t much going on in Washington. But that’s okay because they’re rebuilding, right?

Well, kind of.

Sure, Avdija and Coulibaly could turn into solid players down the line. Sure, they could get some decent assets back in a potential Kuzma trade this offseason. But neither of those things fix their biggest issue.

The Washington Wizards don't have a star, nor do they have a clear pathway to acquire one

As silly as it sounds, that’s a major problem. Almost every other team in the league has a player who is currently a star, could be a star, or was a star for a long, long time.

Look at some of the other bad teams around the league. The San Antonio Spurs have Victor Wembanyama. The Detroit Pistons have Cade Cunningham. The Utah Jazz have Lauri Markkanen. The Toronto Raptors have Scottie Barnes.

The Portland Trail Blazers are the closest team to Washington’s situation, and even they have Scoot Henderson. He had a rough rookie year, but he has more star potential than anyone in the Wizards’ orbit.

Washington has the second pick in this year’s draft, but is one of Alex Sarr or Zaccharie Risacher ready to step in and be the face of a franchise right away? Are either of them ready to accept the weight of an organization on their backs?

The point is, there is no clear pathway for the Wizards to land a star. Even if they wait until next year and hope to win the lottery, there’s no guarantee they do.

Coulibaly could take a major leap, but he doesn’t seem like the type of guy to lead a franchise. The same can be said for Avdija, who enjoyed some success toward the end of the year.

The painful reality is, unless they pull off some interesting moves, Washington is staring down at least one more year of star-less basketball without a guaranteed pathway to land one.