Last year the Washington Wizards finished 49-33, good enough for 4th pace in the Eastern Conference and winning their first division tittle since the 1979 season. Hiring Scott Brooks and re-signing Bradley Beal to a max contract proved pivotal as the Wizards pushed the 1-seed Boston Celtics to a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, but ultimately came up short. Bradley Beal showed that he is worth a max contract by averaging a career high 23.1 PPG, 3.5 APG and 48.2% from the field while also staying healthy.
John Wall had his best season as a pro averaging career highs in both points (23.1 PPG), assists (10.7 APG) and steals (2 SPG), earning him his 4th consecutive All-Star appearance and first ever All-NBA Team. The big surprise was Otto Porter having a career year across the board. In a contract year for the 24-year-old, he proved he might be the SF that Washington has been looking for. But with all this said, they still need to improve. They’re not at that championship level yet. Here are some things they need to do in order to get there.
1. Add Bench Depth
Seeing bench players like Ramon Sessions and Garrett Temple leave in free agency was big in a bad way with the Wizards having the second worst offensive bench production in the league. They don’t need a bench full of big named players, just players that will do their job at a constant rate. Bojan Bogdanovic proved to be a good pickup but his contract is up and there’s no guarantee that he will be coming back. They never found a consistent backup PG until they signed Brandon Jennings, but he wasn’t answer they needed. They never had a true backup PF or SG, which handicapped them all season. Hopefully mid-season addition Chris McCullough can pan out and become a good backup for the future behind Markieff Morris.
2. Maintain Leads
There were multiple times over the season where the Wizards lost big leads which cost them many important games. They had double-digit leads in each of the first two games versus the Boston Celtics, but lack of effort and attentiveness cost them two pivotal playoff road games. Weather it was a 20+ point lead to the Phoenix Suns or a 7 point lead in the last minutes of the fourth quarter to the Oklahoma City Thunder, if you can’t maintain a lead it’ll always come back to hurt you.
3. Getting Better On The Road
One reason why the Wizards played more games than they needed to in the playoffs was because they just simply couldn’t win on the road. They posted a 6-0 record at Verizon Center, but only a 1-6 record on the road. Road games are integral to be championship material, and a 1-6 record will never get it done.
4. Re-signing Otto Porter and Bojan Bogdanavic
Shooters in this era of the NBA are a must have, and both Porter and Bogdanavic fit into the teams style of play perfectly. Porter is a scrappy player who gets loose balls and offensive rebounds at key moments in the game, and Bojan can just help you win games with his marksmanship. Losing one or both of these players hurts the teams chances at competing as these two will attract big price tags during contract negotiations.