Though one particular Wizards reporter (me) has been walking around in a tin foil hat clamoring about how the adjusted draft lottery rule could create a very uniquely unlucky situation for the team, the positives of Washington being included in the NBA's restart should ultimately outweigh the negatives. As we have seen so far, it is a gift in the way of player development. They have a roster full of young players gaining experience they would otherwise not receive.
But it goes well beyond just those players getting some extra seasoning before they return next year to a team that will expect to make the playoffs with John Wall in the fold. You could also view it as them being showcased for potential trades.
After all, Wizards chairman Ted Leonsis and general manager Tommy Sheppard do not plan on the roster revamp they began last summer to take long. They want it to be ready in just a few months to boost Wall and Bradley Beal as they reunite in hopes of finding more success as a duo than they have ever had before.
Leonsis even said, if you recall, "why can't this be quick?" Well, the most surefire way to do that is not likely going to be in the draft, though they should have another prime selection this year. Young players take time. And it probably won't be in free agency, either, given they have limited salary cap room and it is a relatively thin class of players.
No, the most likely way for the Wizards to vault forward quickly is with a trade. And that's what brings us back to the team's inclusion in Orlando.
The Wizards' young players aren't just auditioning for roles on the team next year. They are developing as potential trade assets, as other teams will now have more film to evaluate while determining who to request in a possible deal.
That process is about to be taken up a notch on Wednesday as the Wizards' schedule turns more difficult. They will see the Sixers (4 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington), who have one of the deepest and most talented rosters in the league. Philly has a loaded team with Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Al Horford, Tobias Harris and Josh Richardson as the headliners.
After that, the Wizards' road will stay tough until the very end with match-ups against the Pelicans, Thunder, Bucks and Celtics on tap. Over the course of the next week-plus, guys like Troy Brown Jr., Thomas Bryant, Moe Wagner, Isaac Bonga and Jerome Robinson will get to play heavy minutes against some of the league's best players and teams. And if they hold their own, it will speak volumes about their long-term potential, whether it is realized hear or elsewhere.
(I'm hesitant to include Rui Hachimura in this dicussion because last time I did, Japanese media thought I reported he would be traded. It was technically an international incident. On related note, I think the 10 nicest people I've ever met in my life are Japanese reporters assigned to cover Hachimura and the Wizards. Just amazingly generous people.)
Whenever a team goes young like the Wizards have over the past 13 or so months, trades have to be considered in the long-term, especially if the goal is to win sooner than later. That's how the Lakers got Anthony Davis and the Clippers got Paul George last summer. This is not to say the Wizards are gearing up for that level of a blockbuster, but the point stands.
Playing the lottery, which is in extreme cases known as tanking, is all about stockpiling assets that can turn into other, more substantial things. The Wizards have been doing that in their own right over the past calendar year.
As for which player could become available for them to trade for, or who would be shipped out, is difficult to determine at this point. The NBA offseason is crazy and unpredictable and the tea leaves are a bit harder to read right now than they usually are.
We don't know which star or stars could be the next ones dealt. But if their young players keep coming along, the Wizards will continue to improve their chances of being ready to strike.
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