The Washington Wizards beat the Boston Celtics 96-90 on Thursday in their season finale in Orlando. Here are five takeaways from what went down...
Ending on a high note
Well, at least they got one win. They only had to wait more than five months.
The Wizards took out the Celtics on Thursday to close out their season with their lone victory in Orlando. Now they can head home on a high note and feel a little bit better about themselves on the plane ride home.
The Wizards had measured expecations going into the restart in Orlando, but leaving there without a win would have been disappointing, no matter the strides they made in player development. It is only one win, but the fact it came in the finale is good timing. The young players worked hard and finally got rewarded for it in the end.
That closes the bizarre 2019-20 season for the Wizards. They played 72 games and went 25-47. Based on win percentage, it was their worst season since 2011-12 when just months later they landed Bradley Beal in the draft.
Though it ended with a win, the Wizards' time in Orlando overall has told us some things about the roster. There are some nice pieces to put in the supporting cast next year, but also plenty of work to do this offseason.
Lottery will still be a mess
The Wizards have finished the season with the eighth-worst record in the NBA, but will have the ninth-best lottery odds next week when the ping pong balls are drawn on Aug. 20. That is because, if you recall, the NBA changed the lottery rules for the restart so that the order will be based on the standings from March 11.
I've been writing ad nauseum about this to the point where I've been a bit self-conscious that I was sounding like a broken record. But the tin foil hat can come off now because it is a real thing. The Wizards officially got screwed by the rule.
Now, the only thing it ensures is that lottery night will have a really odd dynamic where the Wizards have worse odds than the Hornets despite also having a worse record based on win percentage. But there is a way it could help the Wizards, if somehow the ninth spot in the lottery is the lucky ticket. Just keep in mind that last year the team with the eighth-best odds (the Grizzlies) got the second overall pick and Ja Morant, while the team with the ninth-best odds (the Hawks) fell to 10th.
If that happens, man, Wizards fans will never get over it.
Key guys finished strong
Thomas Bryant and Jerome Robinson have been two of the Wizards' best players in the bubble and both of them ended the season with solid games. Bryant had 26 points and nine rebounds, while Robinson looked better than his 10 points and three rebounds would suggest.
Troy Brown Jr. impressed overall during the team's run in Orlando, but did not play well for the second straight game while serving as the starting point guard. Though he had 17 points and eight rebounds, but he shot just 5-for-16 from the field. He did, however, finish strong, to his credit.
All in all, those three should feel very good about what they accomplished at Disney World. Bryant and Brown look poised to be key parts of the Wizards' rotation next season and Robinson showed enough to be given a chance to be Beal's primary back-up.
Rookie standout Rui Hachimura was a late scratch for this game as about 40 minutes before gametime we learned he would be out with right quad soreness. That brought to a close what was an imrpessive rookie season for the ninth overall pick.
Hachimura ended his rookie year with averages of 13.5 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. He held his own as a third scoring option, albeit on a struggling team. And he did enough to prove he is a legitimate building block for the team moving forward.
Hachimura didn't have a great showing in the bubble overall - he shot just 40.4 percent - but he ended on a positive note with 20 points and five boards against the Bucks. If the Wizards were on the fence at all about him playing, perhaps that entered their mind, that he could go into the offseason coming off a good game in which he also made three shots from long range.
Jonathan Williams III started in Hachimura's place and thrived. He had 16 rebounds including seven on the offensive end. The Wizards are one of the worst rebounding teams in the NBA, so it was refreshing to see.
Next game will be very different
With Hachimura out of the mix, this game featured a very stripped down version of the Wizards. They were already without Beal, John Wall and Davis Bertans. Hachimura made it so arguably their four best players were gone.
Their next game, whenever it takes place, will be unrecognizable compared to the team we saw on Thursday. All of those guys should be back (depending on Bertans' free agency) and for Wall he will play for the first time since December of 2018.
What the roster around those guys will look like is anybody's guess. But don't expect them to just run it back with all the young guys they had in Orlando. The stakes will be higher next year and GM Tommy Sheppard is probably going to be a lot more aggressive than some are predicting. He now has more trade assets to work with and trades are going to be the fastest way for him to push this team forward given their salary cap situation.
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