If it seems like the 2018-19 Washington Wizards have had a lot of different players play for them this season, well, that's because they have. This year they have set a franchise record by suiting up 25 different guys.
For some context, they had only 15 players appear in games all of last season. Eleven years ago, in the 2007-08 season, they had only 13 different guys suit up, or close to half as many as they have had this year.
The Wizards' 25 different players this season are not all that far off from the NBA record. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the 2015-16 Memphis Grizzlies own that distinction with 28. That's a lot of different jerseys.
There are also two teams who have used more players than the Wizards this season alone. The Cavs have had 27 and the Grizzlies have had 26. Apparently this is Memphis' thing.
The reasons why the Wizards have reached this point are numerous. For one, they have made five trades since training camp began. If it weren't for the Feb. 7 trade deadline, they may have made more.
They, of course, have also dealt with major injuries, ones that greatly affected their plans. They lost John Wall for the season due to a torn Achilles and Dwight Howard has only played nine games so far due to a back injury.
Also, the advent and proximity of their new G-League affiliate, the Capital City Go-Go, has allowed them to call up players from the minors easier than before. And two-way contracts have added two players to their roster that weren't there in years past.
There were also a few months there when the Wizards did a dance with their final roster spots to save money under the pressure of the luxury tax. They signed a series of 10-day contracts and other players for weeks at a time. That brought some of the more random names to Washington like Ron Baker, Okaro White, Gary Payton II and John Jenkins.
The Wizards' front office has been busy flipping the roster upside down this season and the coaching staff has been left to sort it out. The most players head coach Scott Brooks has had on a team before is 21, back when he was with the Thunder, so this year has been a new challenge for him.
"What? Are you serious? I didn't know that," Brooks told NBC Sports Washington when informed of the franchise record. "No wonder I haven't slept this year."
The Wizards have a protocol for when new players are added. They are each given an iPad that is loaded with the playbook and film breakdowns. Coaches will meet with the players to give them a lay of the land.
Brooks will introduce himself to all, but usually meets more extensively with those who are going to play major minutes. For those on the fringe of the roster, sometimes that introductory meeting will be handled by Dave Adkins, their director of player development.
When a player is on a 10-day contract, for instance, the transition is relatively easy. Only so much attention will be paid because they in most circumstances will rarely play
For players expected to log heavy minutes, the entire coaching staff will meet to discuss how to incorporate them. After the trades to bring in Bobby Portis, Jabari Parker and Wesley Johnson on Feb. 6, Wizards coaches met the following day for over 30 minutes to brainstorm.
On Feb. 8, as Portis, Parker and Johnson were set to debut against the Cavaliers, the Wizards modified their morning shootaround to add extensive walk-throughs of their playbook. They held seminars on both ends of the court; one for offense and one for defense. One Wizards assistant said it was basically like the first day of training camp, at that point 54 games into their season.
"Going into this year, none of us could prepare for what has happened," Brooks said. "We wouldn't want to be in this position, but we are."
"Losing one of the best players in the league [in Wall], losing one of the key components to shoring up our weaknesses in Dwight. Then, John's second surgery has kind of made this a very unique year in that regard. With all the new players, it has definitely been challenging for me and my coaching staff and the guys that have been here."
Through the ups and the downs of the season, many more of the latter, Brooks has found some joy in the process. The players they have brought in on 10-day contracts and through call-ups from the G-League have taken him back to his own days as a player, when he battled as an undrafted guy to last 10 years in the NBA.
Chasson Randle, in particular, has charted a relatable path. The point guard began the season on a non-guaranteed contract, but in January had his deal guaranteed for the rest of the season.
That was an important step in his NBA career and Brooks remembers what that was like for him.
"That is one of the most enjoyable moments in coaching for me this year, having those guys, because I know that I was in that position, trying to battle and trying to achieve a lofty, lifelong dream," Brooks said.
"We've had that with Chase. He's made himself into a pretty good player in this league. Hopefully, he's able to stick for a long, long time because he deserves it. He's as professional as anybody I've ever been around with his approach, his enthusiasm with an role that you will give him. To see that is awesome."
So, he knows Randle's name. Could Brooks name all 25 of the Wizards' players this season?
"No. It would take me a while. Sometimes I have trouble naming the 15 we have at the moment," he said. "I didn't realize 25, wow."
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