The 2016-2017 Washington Wizards were on a downtrend with coach Randy Whitman at the helm. With John Wall and Bradley Beal so far into their careers, they had yet to reach the Eastern Conference Finals. While Washington as an organization had yet to win 50 games in a season during their time in the NBA.
Wall, entering year seven of his NBA career was motivated from missing the postseason the year before after a disappointing 41-41 season. The Wizards also decided to move on from Randy Whitman and hired Scott Brooks. Wall had a fantastic season as a result averaging a career-high in points at 23.1, a career-high in assists at 10.7, 4.9 rebounds, and two steals per game. He finished 7th in MVP voting and earned his fourth straight All-Star appearance. Bradley Beal was entering his 5th NBA and the first where he finished the season scoring over 20 points per game at 23.1.
The starting line-up was one of the best in the league averaging 82.2 points as a unit ranking 3rd in the league. But what truly defined the season for the Wizards was their horrific contribution or lack thereof from their bench which scored 27 points per game second to last in the league.
The team went out and acquired Bojan Bogdanovic from the Brooklyn Nets for Andrew Nicholson, Marcus Thornton, and a protected first-round pick to help with the bench struggles but they still persisted throughout the season.
The Wizards ran out of gas
The 2016-2017 Washington Wizards ended up winning 49 games a franchise record amount and all players entered the postseason ready to make a deep run and their first Conference Finals in the John Wall era. The backcourt of Wall and Beal combined for 50.2 points per game handling the Atlanta Hawks in the first round in six games.
However, the Wizard’s bench struggles continued even with the addition of Bojan Bogdanovic they averaged an even lower 23.8 points per game which was dead last for playoff teams. The team also could not stop a traffic cone in the playoffs with a 113 defensive rating and no rest for the starters due to the poor bench play caused Wall and Beal to both average 39 minutes a game just to keep the Wizards competitive.
This team engaged in a seven-game series with the Boston Celtics who were the deeper team and by the end of the series it showed. After Wall’s Heroic shot to win game six at home and force a game seven he had nothing left to give and neither did the rest of the Wizards roster. In game seven the Wizards had no answer for the Celtic’s depth and the crushing blow was Kelly Olynk dropping a playoff career-high 26 points leading to their defeat.
The Wizards return to dysfunctional organization
After the Eastern Conference Semifinal’s loss, things were clear for the Wizards. They needed to bolster their bench so that the team is able to compete for a deep post-season run. That bench support never came as Bojan Bogdanovic left for the Indiana Pacers on a four-year $106.5 million contract. A price completely out of the Wizards range because they had to extend Otto Porter Jr. and John Wall. The Wizards brought in no notable replacement to fill the hole left by Bogdanovic’s departure.
The 2016-2017 Washington Wizards season would also be the last season that John Wall was healthy as he played a combined 73 games the next two seasons. The Wizards have since moved on from Wall and turned the franchise over to Bradley Beal, and as things look now, they are headed towards rebuilding rather than retooling for another post-season run.