With the NBA season approaching, Chase Hughes and Andrew Gillis will dissect the biggest questions entering the 2021-22 season.
Today’s question: Did the Wizards get better this offseason, and was it a successful few months?
CH: This is a really good question in part because there seems to be no real consensus on whether they improved or not. Fans and the media for the most part seem to like what they did, while Las Vegas sportsbooks appear to believe they got worse. The way I see it is they raised their floor, but also probably lowered their ceiling in the short-term, while also possibly raising it long-term.
The floor is higher because they have the depth to withstand injuries and they can defend. Their ceiling is possibly lower because they lost a really good player in Russell Westbrook and the East got better. I think they are now too deep and balanced to fall to 15 games under .500 as they did last season, but I also don’t see them winning 17 of 23 games, as they did last season.
Now, where I do think they raised their ceiling potentially is long-term because they added more salary cap flexibility and currently have more tradeable contracts. But it all depends on what the front office does with those resources, as I think this is a playoff team but one that likely needs more help to close the gap between them and the best teams in the NBA.
AG: I’m going to co-sign everything Chase said here because it still is a bit ambiguous. And while it seems counter-intuitive, the Wizards certainly got worse this offseason — but they absolutely had a successful offseason. Allow me to explain:
No NBA team can feel great about improving on the prior season when you lose a player like Westbrook, who averaged a triple-double last year in his only season as a Wizard. And for as much as the Wizards liked Spencer Dinwiddie, he’s almost assuredly not going to replicate that production. That’s just not something that comes around.
The Wizards did, however, add far more defense and depth to the roster (both on the floor and on the coaching staff) than they did a year ago. Like Chase said, I can’t see them going on such a heater like last year, but I also can’t see them totally collapsing either. I think this team falls into a more happy medium compared to last year’s iteration.
That flexibility money-wise is incredibly valuable moving forward, and now the Wizards have far more options than they did a year ago. How that plays out remains to be seen, but it’s important nonetheless.
Do the Wizards have ground (a lot of it, perhaps) to make up in the NBA to become a true championship contender? Absolutely. But while I don’t think, right now, that they’re much better than a year ago, I think it’s hard not to look at this offseason as a success.