NBA Power Rankings #16: Washington Wizards
Photo by Michael Tipton via flickr.
The Washington Wizards have had a string of recent regular season success under the on-court leadership of John Wall and that shouldn't change during the 2018-2019 NBA season. The Wizards are coming off of a 43-39 record which barley got them in the playoffs at the 8th seed. With a few new faces and less injuries in this upcoming season, the Wizards should be able to see improvement and have a more comfortable position in the East.
The Wizards were able to remain active in the NBA off-season despite having one of the least flexible rosters in terms of cap space. Washington's front office was able to move a disgruntled Marcin Gortat, and his the remaining $13 million of his contract, to Los Angeles in exchange for Austin Rivers. Rivers will serve as a backup point guard for a bench that was just 16th in the league last year in bench points per game. Having a offensive minded point guard off your bench is typical for the modern NBA and Rivers fits that mold as well as anyone in the league. You'll of course miss John Wall not being on the court, but Rivers should be serviceable running the show with Wall on the bench.
With the starting center position open with Gortat out, the Wizards signed former First Team All-NBA center Dwight Howard to a two-year, $11 million deal with a player option in year two. While Gortat wasn't a bad player in Washington by any means, Howard seems like he should be an upgrade. Howard's defensive ability is certain greater than that of Gortat's and at age 32 still has some bounce left in his legs. The pick-and-roll with him and Wall should be a thing of beauty come mid-season. With the chemistry issues previously seen in Washington and the chemistry issues that Howard seems to bring with him, it make take some time for him to mesh with his new team.
The final noteworthy addition to this Washington team is Jeff Green. Green's a slashing forward who has bounced around from team to team throughout his NBA career but has proven time and time again he's a reliable scorer of the bench for whoever he plays for.
The main concern however is keeping the returning Wizards star healthy. John Wall missed half of the season with a knee injury, during which the team experienced several on and off the court chemistry problems. Wall is one of the most dynamic athletes in the league and has consistently been among the league leaders in assists per game (9.2 APG last season).
If Wall can stay healthy, Howard can play at the same level that he did in Charlotte last year, and the team and stay drama-free, the Wizards should see their sixth straight 40-win season and yet another birth in the playoffs.