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New wave: What will the new-look Wizards be good at in 2019-20?

New wave: What will the new-look Wizards be good at in 2019-20?

This week at NBC Sports Washington is all about Rui Hachimura and the new wave of Wizards players. Today, we examine what the Wizards' revamped roster; what they could be good at and what they may struggle with this season...

Following an offseason of wholesale changes, about two-thirds of the Wizards' roster is new. That means that before they take the floor, we don't really know what to expect.

What will be their strengths and weaknesses? Will they be unusually good or bad at anything? Here are some predictions based on what their current players have done in the past...

STRENGTHS

1. Three-point shooting

 The Wizards ranked merely average in three-point makes and attempts last season, but in terms of percentage were a bottom-five team. They were 26th in the NBA at 34.1 percent from long range, a result of not having enough marksmen beyond Bradley Beal and the partial seasons from Otto Porter Jr. and Bobby Portis.

This year, though, the Wizards have a chance to improve in all three-point shooting categories. They can roll out lineups with five perimeter threats now thanks to a host of big men who can stretch the floor. 

Thomas Bryant, Moe Wagner and Davis Bertans are all proficient from long range. Bertans, in particular, is one of the best in the NBA at his size. Last year, he knocked down 42.9 percent of his threes on 4.4 attempts per game. He is particularly good in the corner where he holds a 53.4 career percentage and shot at a 59.6 clip last season.

C.J. Miles, another newcomer, could also help. He has made 37.1 percent of his threes over the past seven seasons. And same with Isaiah Thomas, a 36-percent career three-point shooter. 

Beal is one of the best long-range shooters in the NBA and now he could find himself in a lineup where all four of his teammates are a threat to shoot from deep. They may not be an elite shooting team, but they could take a step forward from last season.

2. Speed 

The Wizards like to play fast under head coach Scott Brooks and that was not a problem last season even after point guard John Wall was lost due to injury. He only played in 32 total games, yet they still ranked ninth in the NBA on the year in pace factor and were 11th after he went down.

Now the Wizards are bringing in one of the league's most noted speedsters in point guard Ish Smith. He is fast and committed to running, last year ranking eighth in the league in average speed on offense. That should pair well with Bryant, who is quick and active on the fast break for a center.

Bertans could also help that cause. He was fifth in average speed on offense (min. 20 games).

3. Youth

The Wizards flipped their roster this summer to favor youth and financial flexibility over experienced veterans and with that will come some teaching moments. But there should be some benefits from handing the keys to a younger group.

For one, they present upside. The team's ceiling may be lower in the short-term, but they now have some lottery tickets on the roster, prospects that could change their outlook very quickly. Young players could also bring more effort and energy than the Wizards saw last season from high-priced veterans who at times appeared less than thrilled about the team's trajectory.

WEAKNESSES

1. Rim protection

This is a familiar one. The Wizards have had issues protecting the rim for years with many of their attempts to fix it proving unsuccessful. This time around, they didn't do much to fix it at all.

The Wizards mostly added offensive-oriented players this summer. Neither Bertans or Wagner will help much. They combined to average 1.9 blocks per 36 minutes last season. Bryant is their best shot-blocker and that's not a big strength for him at this point.

Defense is likely to be a major, season-defining issue for the Wizards, just like it was last year. Last season, the Wizards were 29th in points allowed and 28th in defensive rating. It could even be worse this time around with Smith and Thomas serving as the front line.

2. Shot creation

Beal proved last season that even amid turmoil and record-setting roster turnover (they played a franchise-record 25 different players), he can still get buckets. No matter if he is double-teamed or guarded by the opponent's best defender, he can break through and put up points.

But can anyone else? After Beal, it's not easy pinpointing who will be the second scoring option. Bryant is probably their second-best player, but he averaged 10.5 points last season.

Rui Hachimura has the tools to be one of their top scoring options, but will be a rookie finding his way at the NBA level. If Thomas is healthy, he could certainly be in the mix. But beyond Beal, they may have some trouble getting points when they need them.

3. Guard depth

With Wall out for possibly all of next season, it seemed logical the Wizards would shore up the point guard spot with a starting-caliber player to hold down the fort. But instead of re-signing Tomas Satoransky or pouring resources into a proven starter, they sort of divvied up the money between two players - Smith and Thomas - who were back-ups last season.

Smith is 31 years old and Thomas played only 12 games last season as he continued to recover from a serious hip injury. What if one of them doesn't work out?

That could put the Wizards in a difficult spot with not much point guard depth behind them. They have undrafted rookie Justin Robinson from Virginia Tech as well as Troy Brown Jr. and Jordan McRae who can play the position if needed. But without Wall, the Wizards have some major question marks at point guard.

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NBA G League cancels remainder of 2019-20 season

NBA G League cancels remainder of 2019-20 season

Though the NBA got positive news on Thursday that the 2019-20 season would resume, the NBA G League did not.

In a statement, the NBA G League announced that it would be canceling the remainder of the 2019-20 season, including the playoffs. The league had halted action on March 12, just 16 days before the regular season was scheduled to come to an end. The Capital City Go-Go, the Wizards' G League affiliate, were 22-21 when play paused. 

“While canceling the remainder of our season weighs heavily on us, we recognize that it is the most appropriate action to take for our league,” NBA G League president Shareef Abdur-Rahim said in the release. “I extend my sincere gratitude to NBA G League players and coaches for giving their all to their teams and fans this season.  And to our fans, I thank you and look forward to resuming play for the 2020-21 season.”

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At this point in time, there is no concrete plan for when the NBA G League's 2020-21 season will begin. Coronavirus concerns coupled with the fact that the NBA will have to delay the start of its next season most likely mean it will be a little while before a date is determined.

Awards for the 2019-20 season, including Most Valuable Player, Coach of the Year and Rookie of the Year, will be announced in the coming weeks, according to the press release.

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Proposed NBA draft lottery odds rules could hurt the Wizards

Proposed NBA draft lottery odds rules could hurt the Wizards

The news the Wizards are among the 22 teams invited to resume play in Orlando, FL is good, as more basketball is always a positive thing. But on Thursday, as the rest of the league's return-to-play proposal was released, there was a small note in the fine print that could end up hurting the Wizards.

It involves the draft lottery odds. The eight teams whose season ended are locked into their lottery position. That means the Wizards, who are currently ninth, can now only hurt their chances, not improve them.

If they were to bottom out and lose a bunch of games in Orlando, they can't move any higher than ninth. Given they are only 1 1/2 games ahead of the Charlotte Hornets, who hold the eighth-best lottery odds, there is a possiblity they go into lottery night with fewer ping-pong balls than a team that holds a higher win percentage.

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Even with only eight games left in the new regular season format, the Wizards could have moved up to have the seventh-best odds. That would have given them a 31.9 percent chance at a top-four pick. If they stay at ninth, they will have 20.2 percent odds to pick in the top four.

It is also important to note the Wizards will be playing those eight games against all good teams. The 22-team cutoff took out the league's bottom-dwellers.

There is, however, a flip-side that has some positives. The fact they can't improve their lottery odds means they have no reason to tank. That allows them to go to Orlando and battle for a playoff spot without keeping one eye on their future. They don't have incentive to shut down players or anything of the sort.

But if they make the playoffs, they would be taken out of the lottery. And in that scenario, they would pick at 15th or lower.

The new lottery odds rule is one of the more unique changes the NBA made to resume play. And it could arguably end up affecting the Wizards more than any other team.

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