The Washington Wizards have the worst record of any of the 22 teams heading to Walt Disney World for the resumption of the 2019-20 NBA season, and it’s fair to question why they were invited in the first place. Currently 5 1/2 games back of the Orlando Magic for the final playoff spot out East, the Wizards (24-40) would have to get within four games of Orlando or the Brooklyn Nets to force a play-in series for the No. 8 seed. If that happens, the Wizards would have to win back-to-back games to earn the spot.
That’s going to be incredibly difficult, particularly given the recent news that they’ll be without Davis Bertans, who has chosen not to participate in the restart. If Washington is going to have any shot at the postseason, Bradley Beal, currently averaging 30.5 points per game, will need to have a blistering eight-game stretch. The good news for the Wizards is that in this unique scenario with players coming off of a four-month absence from competitive basketball, the landscape is ripe for upsets.
Here’s a look at the Wizards’ roster, schedule and a few key storylines for when their season resumes in Orlando.
Players sitting out: Davis Bertans, John Wall
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Say it ain’t so, Davis: One of the most disappointing developments for Wizards fans over the past few weeks is that the team’s resident sharpshooter and second-leading scorer, Davis Bertans, . You can’t blame Bertans, who is due for a big free agency payday this offseason and has a history of knee injuries, but it will be hard to watch Wizards games without one of the most entertaining offensive players in the league on the court. They had little chance of making the playoffs even with Bertans in the lineup — without him it’s almost hopeless.
The Beal deal: With Bertans opting out of the restart it’s natural to ask: Why is Bradley Beal going? He has nothing to gain and everything to risk by heading to this uncertain environment, and frankly the Wizards should be just as concerned with the future of their franchise putting his health on the line for what could amount to eight meaningless games. Beal can still choose to sit out, of course, but even if he does head to Orlando and play, how long will he be on the court? The Wizards need to be within four games of the No. 8 seed to force a play-in series, so if they lose their first few games and the Magic and Nets win theirs, Washington could be eliminated from contention relatively quickly. In that case, it’s not hard to imagine a scenario where Beal packs up his Yacht Club room and heads home early.
The kids are alright: Outside of Beal and John Wall, there are no certainties on the Wizards roster in terms of next season. With that in mind, the front office will want to get a good look at young players like Hachimura, Bryant, Wagner, Bonga, Robinson and Brown to see how they’ll factor into the team’s future plans. They’ll also want to further evaluate Napier and Payton, who are both free agents this offseason. The Wizards could make a surprising run to the postseason, but more likely this will be a chance for the team’s young talent to get some reps together and gain some momentum heading into next season.
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