The Washington Wizards enter the 2021-22 season as a team in transition. With a revamped roster and new head coach in Wes Unseld Jr., Washington is hoping its defensive woes and injury problems are a thing of the past as they try to make the most of Bradley Beal’s prime.
Washington made some big moves in the offseason, trading away Russell Westbrook and acquiring Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope from the Los Angeles Lakers. The Wizards also acquired Spencer Dinwiddie in a sign-and-trade with the Brooklyn Nets to give Beal another competent backcourt partner.
Depth shouldn’t be an issue like it was in years past, but the biggest question Washington faces is the development of the young core on their team in Rui Hachimura and Deni Avidja.
A fresh start under Unseld Jr. should help as the Wizards attempt to get back to the playoffs for the second straight year.
Washington will open up the regular season against the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday, Oct 20. You can tune in to NBC Sports Washington for pregame and postgame coverage.
Here’s a look at how the Wizards lineup could look this year:
What will be the Wizards starting lineup?
The Wizards will once again rely on Beal and their backcourt to produce. This year instead of Westbrook, Beal will have Dinwiddie alongside him as the starting point guard. Washington will have their choice of either Caldwell-Pope or Kuzma at the small forward position.
Rui Hachimura recently returned to the team after taking time off at the start of training camp. Hachimura will assume the starting power forward role on the team. At center, the Wizards also have a couple of options. They could start Daniel Gafford to provide a defensive presence to the unit or start new acquisition, Montrezl Harrell, who played well for his previous two teams with the Lakers and Clippers.
Opening night should be Dinwiddie, Beal, Caldwell-Pope, Hachimura and Gafford.
Who is the point guard for the Wizards?
Much of the Wizards' point guard situation revolves around the health of Dinwiddie, who missed all but three games last season after suffering a partially torn ACL.
Expect the Wizards to be cautious with Dinwiddie and ease him in slowly, but if he moves well and shows no hesitancy when on the floor he could have a big year in Washington.
Who is the Wizards starting shooting guard?
Bradley Beal will be the Wizards starting shooting guard this season. Beal was an All-Star last season, averaging 31.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game while shooting 48.5 % from the floor.
Washington will need to rely on Beal to play heavy minutes if they want to stay in playoff contention throughout the season.
Who is the Wizards starting small forward?
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is another new addition to the Wizards’ starting lineup after spending his last four seasons on the Lakers. KCP started 67 games at small forward for Los Angeles last season, averaging 9.7 points, and shooting 41 % from 3.
Washington will look for Caldwell-Pope to provide a spark with his veteran leadership and deadly sharpshooting.
Who is the Wizards starting power forward?
Rui Hachimura will start for the Wizards at power forward for the second-straight season. Hachimura dealt with injuries each of his first two seasons in the NBA, playing in 57 games his rookie year and 48 games last season. The 2019 first-round pick made the most of the minutes he did play, averaging 13.7 points and 5.8 rebounds for his career.
Hachimura’s mid-range game is perhaps his best asset as he can be effective in pick and pop or pick and roll situations. He has the potential to be a strong two-way forward in a league where the position is thriving.
Who is the Wizards starting center?
The Wizards acquired Daniel Gafford from the Chicago Bulls at the trade deadline last season.
Gafford had a lackluster start to his career as a reserve in Chicago, but found himself revitalized once he entered the starting lineup for Washington.
The big man averaged 10.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game in 23 regular-season games with the team.
The Wizards need Gafford to continue to step up defensively and infuse some energy into a team that has ranked near the bottom of the NBA in defensive efficiency statistics for years.