Washington Wizards finished in 12th place in the Eastern Conference last season with a 35-47 overall record but they have made a few moves in the offseason and we may see improvements this year.
Washington signed talisman Bradley Beal to a new multi-year deal and rookie Johnny Davis looks an interesting proposition, while they also moved to bring in Will Barton and Monte Morris from Denver Nuggets.
|What||NBA Season 2022/23|
|Where||USA and Canada|
|When||18th October 2022 - June 2023|
|How to watch||Sky Sports, NBA Pass, bet365’s Sports Live Streaming|
|Odds||BOS Celtics +600, GS Warriors +600, LA Clippers +650, MIL Bucks +650, BKN Nets +700|
It looked as if Beal could have been on the move this summer as he declined a deal to become a free agent, only to then sign a new five-year contract.
The Wizards may not have a great deal of strength in depth, but in Beal they have a player who is among the best guards in the NBA and one who is capable of scoring heavily against any opponent.
The 29-year-old has spent his entire career with the franchise but endured a frustrating season last time out. Beal was limited to just 40 games as his campaign came to an early end in February due to a wrist issue that required surgery.
Beal averaged 23.2 points-per-game last season, his lowest total since the 2017/18 campaign, but his presence in the team still kept them competitive and they had a 23-26 record at the end of January.
If they had continued along a similar trajectory for the rest of the season they would still have missed out on the playoffs, as Charlotte Hornets claimed the final play-in place with a 43-39 record, but they would have probably been a lot closer.
There have to be some concerns over Washington's ability to defend as they have ranked 20th or worse defensively in four straight seasons, and they go into the new campaign with a projected started lineup that seems strong offensively but lacking at the other end of the court.
Beal, Morris, Barton, Kyle Kuzma and Kristaps Porzingis will probably be their starting five for the 2022/23 campaign and that does look an incredibly attacking lineup.
Point guard Morris is a strong playmaker who should be able to showcase his skills a little more now he is no longer playing on the same team as Nikola Jokic, while Barton posted some solid numbers last season in the shooting guard role for Denver last term as a regular starter but will revert back to a forward role in the capital.
Porzingis impressed after joining Washington midway through last year after an injury hit spell in Dallas, and if he can rediscover the kind of form that earned him an All-Star selection in 2018 he could well be a big asset.
Kuzma will join Barton in the frontcourt and he had a strong first season with the team last year after making the move from Los Angeles Lakers. The 27-year-old is perhaps still growing into his role in the team, and we may see a bit more productivity from Kuzma in terms of playmaking next season after he averaged a career-high 3.5 assists-per-game last term.
The Wizards do have players who can defend within their roster and Delon Wright is a player who could make a real impact on that side of the game, with Deni Avdija and Daniel Gafford further options for second-year coach Wes Unseld.
It may be that that Wizards alternate their lineup over the course of the season as Unseld tries to work out his best lineup. Corey Kispert, Rui Hachimura, Davis and Taj Gibson provide further options.
Washington start the season with nine games against conference rivals and their opening five should give an indication of what they may be able to achieve in the season ahead.
The Wizards open the campaign with a trip to Indiana Pacers, then face Chicago Bulls (H) and Cleveland Cavaliers (A) before back-to-back home games against Detroit Pistons and Indiana. If they can win a few of those games, Washington may feel they have a chance to claim a top 10 spot.
The Wizards should go into the new campaign with relatively low expectations and it would be no surprise to see them battling it out at the lower end of the East yet again.
A play-in spot should be a target and they are +175 to make the Eastern Conference play-in tournament, while the Wizards can be backed at +350 to make the playoffs.