Before the season began, many people expected the Washington Wizards to be one of the worst teams in the NBA. Bloggers speculated about when Bradley Beal was going to be traded. Stephen A. Smith even said that this year’s Wizards roster was one of the worst in NBA history. However, they defied all expectations by finishing 24-40, good enough for ninth in the East, and a trip to the Orlando bubble. Despite not having All-NBA caliber guard Bradley Beal and sharpshooter Davis Bertans, the Wizards have a chance to make the playoffs. Here are three reasons why the Wizards will defy the odds once again and sneak into the postseason.
The scrimmages were very encouraging
If you watched the Wizards three scrimmages they played prior to the restart, you will know why it was encouraging. Although the Wizards lost all of their scrimmages, they went up against three of the best teams in the Western Conference: the Denver Nuggets, the Los Angeles Clippers, and the Los Angeles Lakers. The most encouraging thing about the scrimmages was that the Wizards were in every single game. They lost to the Nuggets by seven, the Clippers by five, and the Lakers by seven.
Other than the results, the younger players on the team showed that they can play meaningful minutes on an NBA roster. Players such as Rui Hachimura, Troy Brown Jr., and Issac Bonga were standouts through the three exhibition games. Rui displayed his defensive skills during the scrimmages by shutting down star NBA players such as Kawhi Leonard. Troy Brown took over as the main playmaker in the absences of John Wall and Bradley Beal. Lastly, Issac Bonga’s work ethic has been something head coach Scott Brooks has raved about during the restart. Bonga’s ability to be in the right place at the right time as well as his best work off ball have provided a huge spark for the team during the exhibitions. These three players will be key to the Wizards’ chances of making the playoffs.
There are no expectations
For most young teams, unrealistic expectations from fans put unnecessary pressure on them. For the Wizards, there are no expectations. The only thing fans want to see is a team that goes out and competes every night. Results do not matter as much as player development does during this restart. And that can only be a good thing for the Wizards going forward.
The Wizards are not the worst team fighting for the playoffs
If you look at every team’s roster going into the restart, you would think the Wizards would have the worst roster due to the lack of talent. However, the Brooklyn Nets have it way worse than Washington. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are both injured. DeAndre Jordan opted out after testing positive for coronavirus. Spencer Dinwiddie, Wilson Chandler, and Taurean Prince join the lengthy list of players on the Nets that are unavailable.
This is a huge advantage for the Wizards. If they can start off 2-0 coupled with the Nets going 0-2, the Wizards would be four games back of the Nets. Assuming the Wizards do not lose ground over the last six games, they would be four games back of Brooklyn, which would be enough to force a play-in game. If the Wizards can win two straight games against a shorthanded Nets team, they will then make the playoffs.