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...
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.
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).
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.
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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