WASHINGTON (DC News Now) – Ahead of the 2022-23 season, the Washington Wizards were expected to win just 35 games. That is exactly how many games they won, along with 47 losses. So they meet outside expectations but fall extremely below the organization’s internal standards.
For the Wizards, missing the playoffs for the second straight year, according to President and General Manager, Tommy Sheppard, is unacceptable.
“We won 35 games? That’s disgusting to me. What we had the potential to do, I think internally, we have much higher goals but you can’t argue with the record, it is what it is, we got to get better.”
Washington’s front office certainly had great expectations to at least make the play-in tournament, however according to Corey Kispert, there might be some bigger issues within the organization at play.
“The reason why we couldn’t fix these problems was because they’re deep-rooted. I think it’s a mix of, you know, accountability within our organization. I think that needs to be addressed and fixed. From what I’ve seen, we’re taking steps to do that. I also think it’s a little bit of like an identity issue. And it’s easy to point fingers and put blame on injuries and circumstances, but other teams figured it out.”
Talking about accountability, Bradley Beal went into the season with high expectations and a max 8-year contract, including a no-trade clause. Due to injuries, Beal only played 50 games this year, and he might be comfortable living in Washington, but make no mistake, he wants to win.
“We all know we can be better. We had goals and expectations to be better, and we just can’t keep talking about it. We just got to, we have to do it. I’m definitely disappointed, but I’m not gonna sit up here and show that. I expressed that to the necessary voices and people who need to hear.”
Back to that no-trade clause, the team is locked in on Beal for the foreseeable future. Conversely, Beal can request a trade if he so chooses. However, according to him, there is no choice to make and he’s not holding his power over anyone in the front office.
“It’s never been a time where I’m like, ‘You know what, I’m out of here.’ You know, I very well could because I do have that no-trade, but I don’t use it as a trump card.”
Even with the injuries of Washington’s big three, throughout the year – Beal, Kristaps Porzingis, and Kyle Kuzma, the trio only won 16 out of 35 games played together. Not enough of a sample size to see if these three can become a threat in the NBA, according to Porzingis.
“There were glimpses of us playing really, really nice basketball, bat the end 35 (games) is not enough to really build something.”
The Wizards also struggled defensively, while they’d often jump out to a hot start scoring – down the stretch, they would lose games due to their inability to finish strong on defense. The Wizards lost eight games where they had at least a 15-point lead. Head coach Wes Unseld Jr points to the several lineups he had to create due to injuries.
“To be honest, I think some of that is you got different pairings and different groups out there. The availability piece affects that. I think we did some really good things in stretches, but just not consistently enough.”
Unfortunate timing in Washington continues during the offseason, as Kuzma and Porzingis are both eligible to exercise their player option. Both players have maintained that they want to be a part of a winning organization.
Kuzma told reporters on Saturday, April 8th after the Wizards’ game against the Miami Heat that it wasn’t about the money, he wants to go where he can develop further as a player and win a championship.
Porzingis on the other hand, apparently likes the way the front office operates in Washington, and he likes the city.
“Just seeing especially people at the top how proactive they are and how much I see that there’s a willingness to get this (the team) to a better place, that in my eyes has a lot of value and that kind of gets me excited.”
For Washington, their only option now, is to look ahead to the future, get ready for the NBA draft and hopefully lock in two of their big three this offseason.