2023-24 NBA Season Preview: Washington Wizards
The 2023-24 NBA Season is on the horizon and the Washington Wizards will enter the year as a brand new team. The organization has made massive changes and is taking the franchise in a new direction. That leaves us with plenty to discuss as we take a look at the team’s roster heading into its new era.
To continue our 2023-24 season preview series, let’s dive into what to expect from the Washington Wizards!
2022-23 Season Recap:
The Washington Wizards 2022-23 season was a disappointment. The team finished 12th in the Eastern Conference with an underwhelming 35-47 record. That was five games short of the spot in the final NBA Play-In Tournament position.
The Wizards’ struggles were for a variety of reasons. Bradley Beal only played in 50 games, with the team going 24-26 in those games. It was evident the team did not have the necessary pieces to form a winning team around Beal.
The Wizards did have bright spots, however. That begins with Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle Kuzma. In contract years, both players had great seasons. Porzingis averaged 23.3 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.5 blocks, and 0.9 steals while playing in 65 games–the most he’s played in a year since his sophomore season with the New York Knicks in 2016-17. Meanwhile, Kuzma averaged a career-high 21.2 points and 3.7 assists while adding 7.2 rebounds a game.
The Wizards saw a mixed bag of results from its young talent. The positives came from young forwards Corey Kispert and Deni Aviija. Kispert averaged 11.1 points per game while proving to be a sniper from deep. The Gonzaga product shot 42.4 percent from deep on 5.2 attempts per game. On the other hand, Avidija proved to be a positive asset with his perimeter defense and ability to facilitate on offense.
The disappointment in Wizards’ young core came from rookie Johnny Davis, who was the team’s No. 10 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. Davis finished the season averaging 5.8 points, 2.3 rebounds and one assist while shooting 24.3 percent from three. After just one season in the league, he is dangerously close to becoming a bust. The Wizards also opted to move on from Rui Hachimura and trade the former top-10 pick to the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Wizards’ disappointing 2022-23 season led to massive changes in the offseason. This began in the front office as the team fired Tommy Shepard and brought in Michael Winger. Under the tutelage of Winger, the team embraced a rebuild.
The Wizards began its rebuild at the top as they traded Beal to the Phoenix Suns alongside Isaiah Todd and Jordan Goodwin. The Suns received Chris Paul, Landry Shamet, four first-round pick swaps and six second-round picks in return.
Paul did not remain a Wizard for long. Washington sent the 38-year-old point guard to Golden State for Jordan Poole, Ryan Hollins, Patrick Baldwin Jr., a protected 2030 first-round pick, and a second-round pick.
The Wizards fire-sale continued as they traded Porzingis to the Boston Celtics in the three-team deal that included the Memphis Grizzlies. The Wizards added Tyus Jones, Mike Muscala, Danilo Gallinari and a second-round pick, which was flipped on draft night for two more picks. Washington’s final trade saw them send Monte Morris to the Detroit Pistons for a second-round pick.
Despite the rebuild, the Wizards elected to keep Kuzma in town. In fact, Washington was so bullish on keeping Kuzma that they gave him a four-year, $102 million extension.
Lastly, during the 2023 NBA Draft, the Wizards traded up one spot to select intriguing forward Bilal Coulibaly.
Projected Starting Five:
The Washington Wizards’ active offseason leaves them with a ton of fresh faces as we preview the team’s projected starting lineup for the 2023-24 season.
Point Guard: Tyus Jones
Jones finds a great opportunity in Washington. Despite playing great basketball in Memphis, he was forced to be a backup because of superstar point guard Ja Morant. Now, he has his chance to start. It will be fascinating to see how Jones performs as a leading man. The hope is that he will continue to facilitate and lead the Wizards’ offensive attack.
Shooting Guard: Jordan Poole
Poole will be the second man in the Wizards’ backcourt. The volume shooter simply did not mesh with the stars in Golden State. Now, he has a chance to be the leading scorer in Washington. Will Poole thrive in that role? Will he be terribly inefficient and push the Wizards down the standings? Only time will tell. Either way, Poole will be highly entertaining.
Small Forward: Corey Kispert
As previously discussed, Kispert had a great sophomore season. That performance earned him a place in the starting lineup. The hope will be that Kispert can continue to shoot the ball at an elite level. If he can, he will be a great long-term piece for the Wizards.
Power Forward: Kyle Kuzma
The hope is that Kuzma’s career-best season will become his new standard. That said, the loss of Beal and Porzingis will draw more attention to the forward. If he can do that, the 28-year-old’s extension will be a great investment for Washington.
Center: Daniel Gafford
Daniel Gafford will be elevated to the starting center role with Porzingis in Boston. The five-year veteran has never averaged more than 21 minutes per game during his career. In 2023-24, he will likely sit around that mark. In that sense, Gafford will be the starter among a committee of centers.
Key Rotation Players:
The Washington Wizards rotation will feature a mix of youngsters along with some respected veterans. While the veterans are important, the focus in this section will be placed on the young pieces that can help the Wizards in the long run.
Avdija has continuously improved throughout his three-year career. At this point, he is on the verge of being a starter. Currently, he is more likely to be the first wing coming off the bench and he will play meaningful minutes. That will provide Avdija with a role of responsibility he is forced to guard tough opponents while facilitating the offense when the second unit takes the floor.
Coulibaly will have high expectations after being selected No. 7 overall. Although, he may face early struggles. That should be expected, however. Coulibaly is a raw prospect with a lot of athletic gifts. In his first year in the NBA, Couliably will be asked to develop his skills and grow as a player. It will be worth watching how that transpires throughout his rookie year.
We briefly discussed Davis and his disappointing rookie season earlier this year. If he wants to secure his position with the Wizards, he will need to make serious improvements. If he can, the Wizards will be in a much better position.
X-Factor: Patrick Baldwin Jr.
The biggest X-factor for the Washington Wizards’ 2023-24 season will be Patrick Baldwin Jr. Baldwin is a unique player. As he entered the league, he was a very risky prospect. That was because Baldwin was the five-star prospect who was unable to play much in college because of injuries.
Still, when he played he struggled. In his rookie year in Golden State, Baldwin did not play much as he only logged 7.3 minutes a game. Obviously, his averages were not impressive as a result; however, he did shoot 38.1% from the three. That is a pretty good number. If Baldwin can step into an expanded role and shoot a similar percentage, the Wizards will suddenly have another asset for their rebuild.
The Washington Wizards season previews to be on that is filled with losses. The team is simply not in a position to win many games. The expectation should be that Washington finishes around 20 wins and has the worst record in the league. It would not even be a shock to see them deal sell veterans at the deadline to secure that position. At the end of the year, if they have a high draft pick and promising assets, the Washington Wizards 2023-24 season was a success.
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