Wizards 2020 playoff preview: Disney death sentence
MANILA, Philippines – Less than two months from now, the NBA may resume its now-historic 2019-2020 season at Disney World in Orlando, Florida following lengthy discussions on workarounds necessitated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Instead of resuming the season for all 30 teams, however, the league decided to invite just 22 to Orlando – 13 from the Western Conference and 9 from the East – to play 8 more regular season games for playoff seeding purposes.
Meanwhile, the playoffs itself will still be played with 8 teams per conference battling it out in the traditional four-stage, seven-game series format.
The lone team in the Eastern Conference currently outside the top 8 spots is the Washington Wizards, the first squad to be scrutinized in a new 22-part preview series leading up to the planned season resumption on July 31.
Rappler Sports will grade every invited team’s current roster composition including lingering injury concerns and that team’s rest-of-season outlook moving forward into this unprecedented situation.
Regular season schedules will also be analyzed once the NBA releases them.
Current roster composition
The Wizards are currently led by All-Star-snub guard Bradley Beal, who prior to the season’s suspension was averaging a career-high 30.5 points and 6.1 assists thanks to the prolonged absence of backcourt mate John Wall.
Along with Beal, Japanese rookie Rui Hachimura and emerging Latvian sniper Davis Bertans have turned out to be the most consistent of the Wizards’ ragtag bunch of fringe starters, unproven prospects and G Leaguers scrapping for a bigger paycheck.
But make no mistake, the optimism for this year begins and ends with Beal alone.
Just how alone is Beal in carrying offensive responsibilities? This season, he scored a career-high 55 points just one game after setting a personal best of 53.
Spoiler alert: The Wizards lost both of those games.
All season long, Washington has been suffering a never-ending curse of injuries, resulting in inconsistent starting lineups and giving opposing teams a 48-minute offensive feast with their league-worst defensive rating.
To give a sense of just how bad the Wizards’ rotation is, keep in mind that 21 players have played at least one game for the team this season.
Out of those 21, a staggering 16 have started at least two games. Nine of them started at least 14.
And of course to top things off, Wall has played in zero and is nowhere near getting that number up to one, as confirmed by a report on NBC Sports Washington.
Look at it this way. The Wizards have a record of 24-40, winning just 38% of their games so far. They are 28.5 games behind the first seed and 5.5 games away from the 8th spot.
If they were in the Western Conference, they would be the 14th-best team, behind the 26-39 Phoenix Suns.
Simply put, the Wizards have no business in the playoffs whatsoever and are just heading down to Orlando to be stepping stones of more successful contenders.
Yes, Beal holds promise as an All-NBA-caliber player for years to come. Wall can still have a good comeback story. Hachimura is already a good second or third option and is only scratching the surface.
The Wizards can start another magical run as early as next season. This year, however, is simply a fight for a lost cause.