The Wizards announced on Tuesday that All-Star shooting guard Bradley Beal will sit out the NBA's restart in Orlando due to a right shoulder injury. That's big news and it carries with it a series of domino effects.
Here are five takeaways...
The reason for why Beal is not playing in Orlando came out of left field. There was absolutely no discussion of a right shoulder injury anytime recently and, though the Wizards were transparent with the fact Beal may not play, that was never cited as the reason. Yet, Beal not playing isn't surprising at all due to how the Wizards had talked about his decision on whether to play in recent days.
The day before the Beal news broke, head coach Scott Brooks said no final decision had been made on whether Beal would head to Orlando. With 24 hours to go, they didn't know if their best player was going to enter the bubble with them for the next six weeks, the type of decision you just don't make last-second. That made it seem highly possible, if not obvious, that he wasn't actually going to go.
This is all about the future
Set aside the fact Beal has an injury; this is all about looking towards next year. The Wizards understand their chances of doing damage in the playoffs this year and realize their No. 1 goal in Orlando should be to come out of it in one piece. That way they can set up for the 2020-21 season with John Wall returning from his Achilles injury, and look forward to his reunion with Beal in their backcourt.
If Beal suffered a serious injury in Orlando, that could throw all those plans out of the window. And for what, the eighth seed in the playoffs? It's not worth it, especially when you consider there is some urgency to figuring out whether Beal and Wall can work together again. With both players signed to massive contracts, they will need to get things back on track sooner than later or some difficult decisions may be forced on the front office.
Playoffs are a longshot
Without Beal and Davis Bertans, who opted out due to injury concerns ahead of free agency, the Wizards now really have their work cut out for them to make the postseason. Yes, they only need to close 1 1/2 games to force the play-in tournament, but now they have to do that without their two best players and top scorers.
At this point, if the Wizards made the playoffs, it would be a surprise. And that's even considering the Brooklyn Nets' plight and their host of players who have already bounced from the Orlando plan. Washington now has to make up ground in a high-pressure sprint to the finish line without many proven veterans to lead the way.
Lottery rule is now very important
If you recall, when the NBA's restart plan became finalized, there was a little-publicized rule regarding the draft lottery that the bottom-eight teams in the league standings would be locked into their lottery odds. That meant the Wizards, who currently own the ninth-best odds, could not improve their odds, but only hurt them in Orlando. Well, now that rule is even more important to the Wizards' future.
The Wizards are going to Orlando without their top two players, three counting Wall, and can't move up in lottery odds, even if they bottom out and go 0-8. So, now it is much more likely they get screwed by the rule. There is a chance they go into lottery night with worse odds than teams that have better records than them. That would be brutal. What if one of those teams lucks into the No. 1 pick?
Opportunity for young guys
There is always a glass half-full way to view things and that for the Wizards is the chance to let their young players develop while carrying more responsibility. This should directly affect the playing time of second-year guard Jerome Robinson and rookie Garrison Mathews. Troy Brown Jr. and Isaac Bonga will also see more playing time as a result.
It should also create more shots for guys like Rui Hachimura, Thomas Bryant and Moe Wagner. A lot of these players, if not all of them, will be back next year and expected to contribute to what the Wizards hope is an improved team. If guys like Hachimura and Brown, in particular, come out of Orlando with more confidence after serving as primary scoring options, this whole Orlando thing could be a success.
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