Three ways the Wizards can improve this offseason

Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook acknowledge each other's play

The Wizards took a step in the right direction during the 2020-21 season, making it back to the playoffs for the first time since 2019. 

A 17-32 start nearly derailed things for Washington, but a furious run by Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal down the stretch earned the team the eighth seed in the East.

After losing in five games to the Sixers in the first round, general manager Tommy Sheppard is tasked with finding a new head coach and building a formidable roster around Beal and Westbrook. NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller pointed out three areas the team must address before the start of next season. 

Hire a communicator at head coach

As NBA coaching staffs continue to grow and embrace "coordinator" roles on both sides of the ball, X's and O's are much less important for a head coach. Teams are valuing candidates who are strong communicators with great relationship-building skills. 

The Wizards have a diverse roster of players at different stages of their careers, so it'll be important that the next head coach can bridge that gap and get everyone on the same page with their roles. 

"The Wizards' next coach has to be able to communicate with a future Hall of Famer like 32-year-old Russell Westbrook the same as a youngster like 20-year-old Deni Avdija," Miller said. 

The Celtics and Pacers have already filled their head coach openings, leaving the Wizards as one of five remaining teams looking for their next leader on the bench. 


Emphasize player development

The Wizards aren't a team flush with cap space or draft assets to include in trades, so the best way for this team to raise its ceiling is by getting more out of their young core, specifically Rui Hachimura. 

"Player development has to elevate. Rui Hachimura must become a more consistent third option," Miller said. "Davis Bertans by his own admission didn't enter last season in the best shape. Bertans figures to correct that by arriving back in D.C. as soon as August to begin training camp for next season."

If Hachimura, Avdija and Bertans can all take a step forward with their games next season, this Wizards team will be a force to be reckoned with. If not, it's hard to expect them to go any further than they already have. 

Balance out the roster

They may not have cap space, but the Wizards still have a few methods to improve the roster in the draft and free agency. They have the 15th pick in what's considered to be a draft loaded with talent and a taxpayer mid-level exception ($5.9 million) they can use to sign a free agent. 

There's also a number of players from last year's team that could return on new deals. 

"With unrestricted free agents like Ish Smith, Robin Lopez, Raul Neto and Alex Len, the team has to examine which of these impact veterans they want to bring back to the district at the right price," Miller said.