Two years ago the Wizards won 46 games and looked like a team on the rise. They were a No. 5 seed in the playoffs that year, and it was popular to pick them to finish higher than that last year. Things didn't turn out that way at all. They finished .500 - five fewer wins than the year before. More significantly, they just weren't good. Defense was a foreign concept - only the Nets and Sixers allowed more points per game in the East, and those teams were really bad. They were just a mess.
So, they did what any slightly delusional organization does in such a spot - they fired perfectly adequate coach Randy Wittman and blamed him for all that happened. Never mind the lack of top-end talent, the disturbing lack of meaningful depth, or the fact that their highest-paid player is as fragile as a daisy. It was obviously the coach. In his place now is Scott Brooks, who was chased out of Oklahoma City after similarly being blamed for what was not his fault. I like Brooks well enough, but I hope people don't think that he alone will fix this team.
2016 Washington Wizards Betting Storylines
Bradley Beal is really good at playing basketball. I like him and wouldn't be upset if he was on my team. He also, though, is very practiced at not playing basketball. He has played four seasons in the NBA after being the third overall pick in 2012 out of Florida. He has missed 81 games in those four seasons. One season is 82 games. You don't need to be a math major to know, then, that Beal as missed one in four games in his career. That's a problem. It's especially a problem when the biggest move the team made outside of changing coaches this offseason was signing Beal for five years and $128 million. He's the highest-paid player on the roster, and you can't trust he'll be there on any given day. Not to mention that he and John Wall, the only other star-caliber player on the team, aren't exactly BFFs. But again, the issues with the team were clearly Randy Wittman's fault.
The team needs some younger guys who haven't found their stride yet to really step up their game if they are going to do anything worthwhile. Otto Porter Jr., picked third overall the year after Beal, has been largely a disappointment so far. He was his best last year but still needs to be much better to warrant the draft pick used on him. Kelly Oubre Jr. was basically invisible as a rookie last year, but the former Kansas star has buckets of talent, and the team needs to find a way to better access it. Oubre backs up Porter at small forward, so if neither of those two can elevate their game substantially then the roster has a massive hole in it. Andrew Nicholson is another guy who should be much better than he has been since being a first rounder in 2012, and he needs to do more. Add to this list new addition Trey Burke. Burke fell out of favor in Utah and is looking for a new start. I'm a big fan of the former college player of the year from Michigan and think he's a great fit both as a backup to Wall and a potential tempo changer at shooting guard, but he underwhelmed in large stretches at Utah and must step up his game significantly. I could go on, too - Markieff Morris is penciled in as started at power forward, and that's not really a good thing if he is what he has been. Ian Mahinmi could be talked about, too.
Washington right now is a repository for underwhelming-but-talented guys. If they can't change that - turn themselves into a home for reborn talents who take big steps forward - then they just don't have enough depth or talent to be taken seriously.
2016 Washington Wizards Additions and Departures
It wasn't a seismic offseason by any means. Burke could arguably be the biggest move. They also brought in Mahinmi at center from Indiana, Nicholson and Jason Smith from Orlando, and three rookies who don't get me excited and don't promise to have a big role now. The most interesting addition aside from Burke, perhaps, is Tomas Satoransky, a euro guard the team picked in the second round in 2012 and stashed in Europe. He has played well there, and can backup and provide depth at both guard positions. The fact that Burke and Satoransky are the best of the new bunch, and both play in the backcourt where the team was already at their best, is a concern.
There were departures, but none that need to be mourned. Ramon Sessions went to Charlotte, but Burke can fill his shoes. Jared Dudley, Drew Gooden, J.J. Hickson. Nene, Alan Anderson - the world will keep spinning without them.
2016 Washington Wizards Futures Odds and Trends
Washington was a disappointing team to bet on last year - at 43-39 ATS they were essentially just a break even team. The "over" had a slight edge on the total at 43-37.
Washington Wizards Futures Odds (from Bovada)
NBA title odds : +10000
Eastern Conference title odds : +4000
John Wall MVP Odds : +5000
Bradley Beal MVP Odds : +12500
Season win total (from Westgate): 42.5
2016 Washington Wizards Predictions and Futures Odds Picks
It probably doesn't come as a surprise that I'm not too fond of this team. I don't trust Beal, don't like the backcourt chemistry much, and just hate the frontcourt depth. Their saving grace, though, is their division - no other team in the Southeast exactly has everything all lined up, either. These Wizards could win the division. Or they could finish fifth. They could make the playoffs, but I give them virtually no chance barring major changes, of winning a series. If I had to pick I'd have them out of the playoffs, but I'm not passionate about their chances either way.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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