Wizards hope to compete for playoffs without Beal


WASHINGTON -- The calculus has certainly changed for the Washington Wizards, who will have to play the final two months of their 2021-22 season without star guard Bradley Beal. While they were 17-23 with him this season, removing him from the equation lowers their ceiling as a team considerably.

Those left of the Wizards, however, expressed resiliency after Wednesday's practice, that they can make do without Beal and salvage the situation with a competitive finish to their season.

"Of course, it’s not good but it is what it is. We’ve gotta figure out a way to make the playoffs," Rui Hachimura said. "We’re still in the race, so we’ve just gotta figure out how we’re going to play without him."

The Wizards are currently 1 1/2 games behind the Hawks for the 10th and final spot in the play-in tournament in the Eastern Conference. They are 4 1/2 games back from the 8-seed and 5 1/2 back from the 6-seed, the cutoff to avoid the play-in tournament and qualify for the playoffs outright.

Washington has also lost eight of their last nine games and four of their last six with Beal out of the lineup. There's no question the odds are stacked against them as constructed. Though they have a chance to make upgrades before Thursday afternoon's trade deadline, it could be a tough road ahead.

Both Hachimura and head coach Wes Unseld Jr. expressed confidence in what remains of their roster.


"We have to find ways to plug the gaps and find a way out of this rut. We’ve played well at times without him and I think we have enough," Unseld Jr. said.

Unseld Jr. added he does not believe the injury will drastically change the team's plans at the deadline. The assertion there would be they may not become major sellers and punt on their final 29 games in hopes of a top draft pick.

One factor which could work in their favor is schedule strength. The Wizards have the second-easiest remaining schedule in the NBA with a combined win percentage of .462.

Unseld Jr. is focused on continuing to help the Wizards win games. He says roles will change for many players on the roster. Spencer Dinwiddie, for instance, could get more opportunities in the pick-and-roll. Young players like Hachimura, Deni Avdija and Corey Kispert will get more minutes and more shots.

The Wizards will do what they can to make the most of a difficult situation.

"Certainly it’s unfortunate for us not to have our best player on the floor, but we have to continue," Hachimura said.