They’re predicting a long and hard season for the Washington Wizards. Strap in, folks.
The Toronto Raptors had their parade. The draft is over. Nearly all of the viable free agents have signed or agreed to terms somewhere. Even Summer League has come to an end. The only thing left to do is look ahead. And in the way-too-early predictions, there’s not a lot of hope for the Washington Wizards.
In just a few months, the 2019-20 season will be tipping off, and most experts aren’t predicting good things for the Washington Wizards.
In their initial Power Ranking for the upcoming season, ESPN places the Wizards well towards the bottom at 27th. Only the New York Knicks, Charlotte Hornets, and Cleveland Cavaliers were ranked lower. For what it’s worth, the Wizards ranked 25th in ESPN’s final Power Rankings from the 2018-19 season. Since then, they dropped two spots.
The Athletic actually places the Wizards a little lower in their Power Rankings than ESPN did. Down from 27th to 28th, The Athletic predicts that the Wizards, Memphis Grizzlies, and Hornets will round out the NBA’s bottom tier. The Wizards ranked 24th at the end of last season, according to The Athletic’s Power Rankings.
Finally, the number crunchers over at Five Thirty-Eight have the best outlook for the Wizards next season, although they, too, paint quite a bleak picture. In their admittedly way-too-early win projections, Five Thirty-Eight foresees a 32-50 record from the Wizards. Only the Atlanta Hawks, Hornets, Knicks, and Cavaliers are predicted to lose more games.
A 32-50 record that lands them 11th in the East would be identical to last season’s finish. At least it’s not any worse?
While it’s no fun to see such poor projections for the Wizards, it’s not exactly a surprise. Last season was a mess despite the playoff hopes that Ted Leonsis, Scott Brooks, and everyone else kept clinging to in postgame interviews. Now, the team’s starting the season short-handed as John Wall continues to recover from his Achilles injury.
Plus, all the old problems that led them to a 32-50 record last season have gone unsolved.
The defense was atrocious last year. The Wizards ranked 28th in overall defensive rating and 29th in opponent points per game according to Basketball-Reference. Despite some intriguing roster moves by Tommy Sheppard, they certainly didn’t make defense a priority when bringing in Isaiah Thomas and Ish Smith.
The Wizards also struggled consistently on the glass, ranking 27th in both defensive and team rebounds last season. The little rebounding they did have is now gone, too. Dwight Howard, Jabari Parker, and Bobby Portis posted the team’s top three rebounds per game averages. None of them are currently members of the Washington Wizards.
It’s not encouraging to see the Wizards towards the bottom of all the NBA projections and Power Rankings. However, we saw what they were last year. We saw the moves they made in the draft and free agency. And with all that considered, it’s hard to argue that the Wizards deserve to be any higher.
But it is the NBA. Anything could happen.