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5 questions for the Wizards now that the NBA is coming back

5 questions for the Wizards now that the NBA is coming back

The Wizards just barely made the cut. With the league set to resume with a 22-team group, they are Team Number 22, and now scheduled to play at least eight more games in their 2019-20 campaign.

It has been a long time since they last played, and weeks will pass before they play next. But here are five questions for the Wizards as they prepare to get things going again...

What happens to their lottery odds?

There has been a lot of focus on the Wizards possibly making the playoffs, especially with the NBA's return-to-play format's play-in tournament, but really the much bigger question is where this all could leave them in the draft lottery, which is expected to be in August. The Wizards went into this season knowing it was about the future and the best result for their future would be a high draft pick.

The Wizards currently have the ninth-best odds, which means they hold a 20.2 percent chance of picking in the top four. But they will have eight regular-season games that could change their situation dramatically. If they qualify for the playoffs, they will pick no better than 15th.

But if they bottom out, they will not be able to improve their standing, as the odds for teams that miss the postseason will be based on their March 11 records. What that means is the Wizards could have fewer ping-pong balls than teams with better win percentages on lottery night.

Will they make the playoffs?

The most interesting part of this return-to-play format for fans seems to be the adjusted playoff bracket and, interestingly enough, it will affect the Wizards very directly. They could technically make the playoffs if they are fewer than four games behind the eighth-seed once the regular season closes. Right now they are 5 1/2 games behind the No. 8 Magic who are just a half-game behind the Brooklyn Nets.

If the Wizards get in, their work will be cut out for them. They would have to beat the eighth-seed twice and then face the Giannis Antetokounmpo-led Milwaukee Bucks in their first-round series. Even if they were obliterated by the Bucks, they could view it as getting their young players some playoff experience and also tout the fact their team made the playoffs ahead of schedule, even if it were by way of a very unusual circumstance. 


Who will be helped/hurt by the break? 

By the time the NBA returns, about 4 1/2 months will have passed between games. It will be close to an entire offseason, except no one knew this long of a break was coming before it began.

That presents an interesting dynamic for the players. Some will benefit from the break, while some might be hurt by it. Injured players will have time to heal, but those without the resources to keep working out and playing basketball will take time to get into midseason form. And they will have to find that rhythm playing a season format that is now a sprint to the finish line. 

We know Bradley Beal has a gym and basketball court at home, so he should be fine. But what about the players without courts, weights and workout equipment? 

Any postseason awards?

Beyond their playoff hopes, there are a few things individual players have to play for as the season closes out. Beal, for instance, has a shot at making All-NBA for the first time in his career. Since he wasn't an All-Star, the odds are probably stacked against him, given there are nine fewer All-NBA spots than there are for the All-Star Game. But also, Beal has taken his game up a level since the All-Stars were picked. He is now second in the NBA in scoring.

Another player to watch in this regard is Rui Hachimura. He has a very good shot at making the All-Rookie team. It's a deep class of rookies, so first-team may be difficult, but he could make second-team and would be the first Wizards player since Beal in 2013 to earn the honors.

Will Wall play?

It's probably still fair to ask, even though we have heard the answer a million times by now, but do not expect John Wall to return to the court this season, no matter the fact it was pushed back and he was given more time to recover. The Wizards outlined a plan to hold him out this entire season and are sticking to it. Wall also seems to be completely on board, just this week saying he is not playing and has no problem with it.

So, the answer is no, unless the team changes their tune unexpectedly.

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How to watch Wizards vs. Pelicans

How to watch Wizards vs. Pelicans

In their fifth game inside the NBA's Disney bubble, the Washington Wizards will get their first look at New Orleans Pelicans rookie phenom Zion Williamson. The question is how much will Williamson play?

After losing, 107-98, to the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday, the Wizards (24-44) dropped to 0-4 in bubble play, severely hurting their playoffs, as well as their lottery odds. While not officially eliminated from the playoff picture, they now trail the Orlando Magic (32-37) by 7.5 games for the final spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Pelicans (29-39) have their own ground to make up as trail the Memphis Grizzlies (32-37) by 2.5 games for the final spot in the Western Conference with four other teams between them. With fierce competition for the final few playoff spots, will the Pelicans be willing to increase Williamson's playing minutes

Friday's broadcast will be a special one, as five-time Wizards All-Star John Wall will join Justin and Glenn on the broadcast. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.


What: Washington Wizards vs. New Orleans Pelicans

Where: Visa Athletic Center, Orlando, Fla.

When: Friday, August 7, 8 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Wizards vs. Pelicans will be on NBC Sports Washington (NBC Sports Washington Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can live stream Wizards vs. Pelicans on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the NBC Sports App.

Radio: Wizards Radio Network, 1500 AM


7:00 PM: Wizards Pregame Live (LIVE) (NBCSW)

8:00 PM: Wizards at Pelicans (LIVE) (NBCSW)

10:30 PM: Wizards Postgame Live (LIVE) (NBCSW)



The Wizards will likely have their hands full with former No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson. Despite only playing in 23 games this season, Williamson is averaging 22.4 points and 6.2 rebounds in just 27.9 minutes. The minutes will be the thing to watch as the Pelicans have kept a watchful eye on their superstar's workload.

Despite competing in the NBA bubble without their three top players John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Davis Bertans, the Wizards have been remained competitive despite their record. Thomas Bryant's performance, particularly his recent defensive play, is an example of how the Wizards' bubble experience will likely be measured on the growth and development of its young players.



Thomas Bryant, C, Wizards (12.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 1.9 apg): There's no denying Thomas Bryant's physical skill set. In Wednesday's matchup against 76ers center Joel Embiid, Bryant held The Process to just 3-of-11 shooting. Bryant will need to continue his defensive momentum on Friday against a Pelicans team averaging 115.8 points per game, good for fifth-best in the NBA.

Zion Williamson, PF, Pelicans (22.4 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 2.1 apg): This one is easy. If the Pelicans are going to make noise in the Disney bubble, it;ll have to be Zion Williamson leading the way. On Thursday against the Kings, Williamson recorded 24 points on 12 shots in 21 minutes. That kind of efficiency is not something you see often, especially by a rookie.

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With Zion Williamson next, a look at NBA phenoms' first games against the Wizards

With Zion Williamson next, a look at NBA phenoms' first games against the Wizards

The Wizards are expected to get their first look at No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson on Friday night as they battle the New Orleans Pelicans at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. This should be their first glimpse of the phenom in any type of game, though they were supposed to see him last summer in Las Vegas, if you recall. Williamson hurt his knee in a previous Summer League game that was famously cancelled due to an earthquake.

There was anticipation then and there is plenty of it now, as Williamson has since become a sensation in the NBA. Though he has only played in 23 games, he has already done some extraordinary things. Williamson is averaging 22.4 points and 6.2 rebounds in just 27.9 minutes.

Against the Kings on Thursday night, Williams had 24 points on 12 shots in 21 minutes. His efficiency is not the type of stuff you see often, especially for a rookie.

And those are just the numbers. Anyone who has watched him play can attest to the unusual athletic gifts that he has.

"Explosive. Just dynamic," Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said. "His athleticism is off the charts. His second jump is as good as everybody's first jump. He's a quick jumper. He's going to be a problem. He's going to be a problem for a lot of years. It's impressive what he's done in the limited minutes that he's played here."


Williamson may be one of a kind with his strength, first step and leaping ability, but he's just the latest in a long line of star prospects to reach the NBA level. As he gets set to face the Wizards, here is a look at how some other rookie phenoms have fared in their first games against the franchise...


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (MIL) - Nov. 9, 1969

24 points, 16 rebounds, 4 assists, 10-22 FG, 48 minutes; Bullets won by 11

Larry Bird (BOS) - Oct. 19, 1979

12 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks, 6-14 FG, 22 minutes; Celtics won by 37

Magic Johnson (LAL) - Jan. 9, 1980

14 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, block, steal, 4-6 FG, 26 minutes; Bullets won by 2

Michael Jordan (CHI) - Oct. 26, 1984 (NBA debut)

16 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds, 4 blocks, 2 steals, 5-16 FG, 40 minutes; Bulls won by 16

Shaquille O'Neal (ORL) - Nov. 7, 1992 

22 points, 15 rebounds, 4 blocks, 8-16 FG, 40 minutes; Magic won by 5

Allen Iverson (PHI) - March 4, 1997

18 points, 13 assists, 8 rebounds, 2 steals, 7-20 FG, 45 minutes; Bullets won by 1

Tim Duncan (SAS) - Nov. 26, 1997

18 points, 14 rebounds, 5 blocks, 5 turnovers, 9-15 FG, 41 minutes; Wizards won by 4

LeBron James (CLE) - Nov. 8, 2003

17 points, 9 assists, 8 rebounds, steal, block, 8-19 FG, 44 minutes; Cavs won by 13

Kevin Durant (SEA) - Jan. 6, 2008

19 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 7-12 FG, 35 minutes; Wizards won by 22

Derrick Rose (CHI) - Dec. 6, 2008

15 points, 8 assists, 2 steals, 6-12 FG, 37 minutes; Bulls won by 7

Blake Griffin (LAC) - March 12, 2011

26 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, 8-17 FG, 30 minutes; Clippers won by 21

Luka Doncic (DAL) - Nov. 6, 2018

23 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, steal, 9-16 FG, 33 minutes; Mavericks won by 19

Ja Morant (MEM) - Dec. 14, 2019

18 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds, 3 steals, block, 5-11 FG, 28 minutes; Grizzlies won by 17

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