The 2019-20 Washington Wizards’ Season in Review

November 10th, 2020

by Alan Lu

The Washington Wizards’ current logo.
(Photo:
Washington Wizards, via Wikipedia)

The Washington Wizards had a trying year, as their longtime starting point guard John Wall missed the entire season due to an Achilles injury, so it was pretty much guaranteed that they would not contend for the title or for a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals.  In 2020, the Wizards missed the playoffs once again as they won just 25 of 72 games this season, but they were one of the last teams invited to the Orlando bubble, and their superstar guard, Bradley Beal had a terrific season as he averaged 30 points and 6 assists a game for his team.

In case if you need the rubric for my player rating system of projecting NBA players for the 2020-21 season, here is the link. In addition, Basketball-Reference and Spotrac were vital information sites that I used to look at player and team statistics, as well as contract information.

Washington Wizards’ superstar guard, Bradley Beal had a very good season in 2020, and he had multiple 50+ point games this year.
(Photo:
Tommy Gilligan/USA Today Sports, via Sports Illustrated)

G Bradley Beal – A-

2020 (WAS): 57 GP, 30.5 PPG, 6.1 APG, 4.2 RPG, 46 FG%, 35 3PT%, 84 FT%, 36 MPG, 23.2 PER, 5.1 WS

Bradley Beal had a tremendous season in 2020, as he had back-to-back 50+ point games, averaged 30 points and 6 assists per game, and he was by far the Wizards’ best player on the court this season.  He had a big impact on his team on offense, as he was very efficient in his shot making, and he also operated as the team’s de facto point guard.   

He’s been terrific for the Wizards, but there are a few concerns.  One is his on-ball defense, as he rated poorly in the defensive box plus-minus statistic this year, but Beal still played very well overall.  Another is that he has received a heavy workload in his past four seasons including this year, and he played over 2900+ minutes during the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons, and as he is recovering from a rotator cuff injury, there is a concern that the Wizards may be over-using him to the point of wearing him down.

On the other hand, it’s been kind of depressing to watch him waste his talents away on such a mediocre team, as his team has not made the playoffs in two seasons.  Hopefully, the Wizards will get there next season, as they will finally get to have a healthy John Wall in 2021.  However, if the Wizards continue to lose games throughout the years, more people will wonder, what if Bradley Beal had opted out and joined a super-team in free agency instead?

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Franchise player, starting shooting guard of the Washington Wizards
Projected 2021 Rating: 3.5 stars

Third-year center, Thomas Bryant played very well for the Washington Wizards in 2020.
(Photo:
Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports, via Bullets Forever)

C Thomas Bryant – B+

2020 (WAS): 46 GP, 13.2 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.1 BPG, 58 FG%, 41 3PT%, 74 FT%, 24.9 MPG, 21.1 PER, 3.9 WS

Thomas Bryant had a very good season in 2020.  He was very efficient in scoring the basketball, and he is a versatile scorer that can make shots from all over the floor.  He did nearly everything well, but he will still need to improve his on-ball defense.  He had a terrific year, and he will likely be the Wizards’ starting center next season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Starting center on the Washington Wizards
Projected 2021 Rating: 2.5 stars (3 star potential)

Rookie forward, Rui Hachimura excelled as a scorer for the Wizards, and people will interested to see how well he plays during the 2020-21 NBA season.
(Photo:
Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images, Bullets Forever)

PF Rui Hachimura – B

2020 (WAS): 48 GP, 13.5 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.8 APG, 47 FG%, 29 3PT%, 83 FT%, 30.1 MPG, 13.5 PER, 1.8 WS

Hachimura was a full-time starter for the Washington Wizards, and he generally excelled on offense and on the boards for his team.  He missed some time with a groin injury, and he will need to improve both his three-point and his defense.  Still, he is a talented combo forward that could be a fixture in the Wizards’ lineup for years to come.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Starting power forward on the Washington Wizards
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars (3 star potential)

Washington Wizards’ veteran point guard, John Wall missed all of the 2019-20 NBA season due to an Achilles injury that he suffered in January 2019.
(Photo:
Nick Wass/AP, via Yahoo Sports)

PG John Wall – 2020 season grade: Incomplete

2020 (WAS): DNP – Achilles injury

John Wall has not played in NBA basketball games for 1 ½ years, and some consider the 5-time All-Star’s current contract to be definitively the worst in all of the NBA.  But when he is on his game, he is an exciting playmaker that can score and distribute the basketball, and he is known for having tremendous athleticism.  He’ll need to ensure that he will be fully healthy to start next season, and he will need to improve his outside shot and his defense, but a healthy Wall and Beal could get the Wizards back to the playoffs in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Starting point guard of the Washington Wizards
Projected 2021 Rating: 2.5 stars

G-F Isaac Bonga – B

2020 (WAS): 66 GP, 5.0 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 1.2 APG, 50 FG%, 35 3PT%, 81 FT%, 18.9 MPG, 10.2 PER, 1.8 WS

He is a tall, German point forward that made shots efficiently within a limited touches on offense.  He played very well, and this was great especially for Bonga’s development, especially since he went from being a benchwarmer on the Lakers last year to being a regular in the Wizards’ rotation this season. He also can capably guard opponents, but he will need to be much more assertive on the offensive end.  Still, Bonga is a talented player that could earn plenty of playing time on the Wizards in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Rotation player
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars (2.5 star potential)

Washington Wizards’ sharpshooting forward, Davis Bertans shot the ball really well in 2020, and he really excelled in his sixth man role for his team this past season.
Will the Washington Wizards be able to re-sign him?
(Photo:
Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images, Bullets Forever)

F Davis Bertans – A-

2020 (WAS): 54 GP, 15.4 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 1.7 APG, 43 FG%, 42 3PT%, 85 FT%, 29.3 MPG, 15.5 PER, 3.5 WS

Davis Bertans had his best season yet, especially from a developmental standpoint, because the Latvian forward averaged 15 points per game and made 42% of his threes this year on the Washington Wizards.  He was a sharpshooting marksman that is sure to make a big payday in the offseason, and the Wizards will most likely be hoping to re-sign him.  In the meantime, Bertans will need to improve his rebounding and on-ball defense, but his strong ability to knock down shots could enable him to help any team that he does decide to play for next season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Starter/solid bench player in the NBA
Projected 2021 Rating: 2.5 stars

Side note: Will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2019-20 season.

G-F Troy Brown – B

2020 (WAS): 69 GP, 10.4 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 2.6 APG, 44 FG%, 34 3PT%, 78 FT%, 25.8 MPG, 13.7 PER, 2.4 WS

He had a solid second-year with the Wizards this past season.  Brown received considerably more playing time, shot the ball better, and he also excelled as a facilitator and rebounder for his team.  He will need to continue to improve his outside shot and defense, but he is a talented player who will likely earn lots of playing time on the Wizards in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Rotation player
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars (3 star potential)

F-C Moritz Wagner – C+

2020 (WAS): 45 GP, 8.7 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 55 FG%, 31 3PT%, 82 FT%, 18.6 MPG, 15.1 PER, 1.7 WS

Moritz Wagner is a floor-spacing big man that was a regular in the Wizards’ rotation this past season.  He excelled at making shots inside the arc, but he will need to improve his three-point shot, as well as his rebounding, and defense.  Currently, he projects to be slated to be the Wizards’ backup center for the 2021 season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Backup center on the Washington Wizards
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars

PG Shabazz Napier – C

2020 (TOT): 56 GP, 10.3 PPG, 4.7 APG, 2.8 RPG, 41 FG%, 32 3PT%, 82 FT%, 24 MPG, 13.8 PER, 1.7 WS
2020 (MIN): 36 GP, 9.6 PPG, 5.2 APG, 3.1 RPG, 40 FG%, 30 3PT%, 82 FT%, 23.8 MPG, 13.9 PER, 1.3 WS
2020 (WAS): 20 GP, 11.6 PPG, 3.8 APG, 2.4 RPG, 1.5 SPG, 43 FG%, 36 3PT%, 83 FT%, 24.4 MPG, 13.6 PER, 0.4 WS

Having played for two teams this past season, Napier provided them with scoring and some playmaking skills.  He struggled with his outside shot in Minnesota, but he shot the ball better with the Wizards.  He will need to improve his three-point shot and defensive skills, but he could likely be a backup point guard somewhere in the NBA in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Backup point guard in the NBA
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars

Side note: Will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2019-20 season.

SG Garrison Matthews (Two-Way) – A

2019-20 (WAS): 18 GP, 5.4 PPG, 1.3 RPG, 43 FG%, 41 3PT%, 91 FT%, 12.6 MPG, 13.1 PER, 0.6 WS

An undrafted rookie out of Lipscomb who led his team to the NIT finals before losing to Texas, it was a surprise when Garrison Matthews made the Wizards’ team right away to start the 2019-20 season.  It was even more of a welcome surprise when he played well in limited minutes, and he ended averaging over 5 points per game, and he made 41% of his threes to show his terrific marksmanship from beyond the arc.

Matthews would be well-deserving of having his two-way contract converted to a standard contract, as the Wizards should probably do so soon.  Matthews really excelled as a shooter and scorer for his team in 2020.  He will need to improve his rebounding and defense, but Matthews could be poised to crack a spot in the team’s rotation in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Rotation player
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars

SG Jerome Robinson – D+ (D- with the LA Clippers, C with the Wizards)

2020 (TOT): 63 GP, 5.1 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 1.4 APG, 37 FG%, 32 3PT%, 70 FT%, 15.5 MPG, 7.4 PER, 0.2 WS
2020 (LAC): 42 GP, 2.9 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 1.1 APG, 34 FG%, 28 3PT%, 58 FT%, 11.3 MPG, 4.8 PER, 0 WS
2020 (WAS): 21 GP, 9.4 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 2.0 APG, 40 FG%, 35 3PT%, 76 FT%, 24 MPG, 9.8 PER, 0.2 WS

After struggling to get much playing time in 1 ½ seasons with the Clippers, as a last act of mercy, the Los Angeles Clippers parted ways with Robinson by trading him to the Wizards so that the former lottery pick can actually get some playing time for a change.

With the Wizards, he was able to score points in volume and also operated as basically a secondary ball mover, but he will need to make shots more efficiently and improve his defense.  For the first time in his career, Jerome Robinson actually has a chance to be a full-time rotation player in an entire season, and the Wizards are a team that will allow him the chance to get the playing time he wants in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Fringe rotation player, backend roster player
Projected 2021 Rating: 1.5 stars (2 star potential)

PG Ish Smith – C

2020 (WAS): 68 GP, 10.9 PPG, 4.9 APG, 3.2 RPG, 45 FG%, 37 3PT%, 72 FT%, 26.3 MPG, 13.9 PER, 1.9 WS

Ish Smith provided satisfactory floor-spacing and distribution skills to the Wizards on offense this past season, and he was a steady table-setter for their team.  He will need to improve his defense and ability to score inside the arc, but he could be effective as a backup point guard in the NBA for either the Wizards or another team next season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Backup point guard in the NBA
Projected 2021 Rating: 1.5 stars

C Ian Mahinmi – C

2019-20 (WAS): 38 GP, 7.4 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 50 FG%, 21.3 MPG, 14.2 PER, 1.4 WS

He had his ups and downs for the Wizards this past season.  He excelled as a rebounder and shot blocker, as he generally played satisfactory defense for them, but he will need to make more shots efficiently and improve his playmaking skills.  Next season, he could be poised to earn minutes as a backup center for either the Wizards or another team in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Backup center in the NBA
Projected 2021 Rating: 1.5 stars

Side note: Will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2019-20 season.

G-F Admiral Schofield – C-

2019-20 (WAS): 33 GP, 3.0 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 38 FG%, 31 3PT%, 67 FT%, 11.2 MPG, 6.1 PER, 0.1 WS

Schofield was able to get some playing time with the Wizards this past season, but he struggled to produce consistent results when he was on the floor.  He showed some potential as a floor spacer, but was unable to make shots efficiently this year, and he also didn’t make much of an impact defensively, either.  It hasn’t quite been a smooth transition to the NBA for him after having a strong senior season at Tennessee, but there’s hope that Schofield can improve considerably and potentially crack a spot in Washington’s rotation in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Fringe rotation player, backend roster player
Projected 2021 Rating: 1.5 stars (2 star potential)

PG Gary Payton II – C

2019-20 (WAS): 29 GP, 3.9 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.1 SPG, 41 FG%, 28 3PT%, 50 FT%, 14.9 MPG, 11.3 PER, 0.5 WS

Gary Payton II defended very well when he was on the court, and he also was very active in grabbing rebounds for the Wizards in 2020.  He will need to improve considerably on offense, however, and there’s no guarantee that he will make the Wizards or another NBA team’s roster, but there’s hope that his ability to guard opponents could enable him to do so.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Fringe rotation player, backend roster player
Projected 2021 Rating: 1.5 stars

Side note: Will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2019-20 season.

F-C Jarrod Uthoff – C (D- with Memphis, B with Washington)

2019-20 (TOT): 7 GP, 2.7 PPG, 0.9 RPG, 39 FG%, 33 3PT%, 100 FT%, 7.6 MPG, 8.8 PER, 0 WS
2019-20 (MEM): 4 GP, 1.0 PPG, 14 FG%, 3.5 MPG, -0.1 PER, 0 WS
2019-20 (WAS): 3 GP, 5.0 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 55 FG%, 60 3PT%, 13 MPG, 12 PER, 0.1 WS

Uthoff played for two different teams this season, with Memphis and Washington.  He played very poorly for the Grizzlies in four games, but he played very well for the Wizards later on this year.  Uthoff is a floor-spacing big man that can stretch the floor, and his size and jump shot could enable him to be a backend roster player in the NBA in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Depth big man, backend roster player
Projected 2021 Rating: 1.5 stars

C Anzejs Pasecniks – C-

2019-20 (WAS): 27 GP, 5.8 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 53 FG%, 16.2 MPG, 11.3 PER, 0.5 WS

The former 2017 first-round pick finally received playing time in the NBA, as he played his rookie season for the Wizards.  He was fairly efficient from the field as a scorer, but he will need to be more assertive on offense, and also improve his rebounding and defense.  Most likely, he will be a backend roster player for the Wizards in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Depth big man, backend roster player
Projected 2021 Rating: 1.5 stars

G Jerian Grant – D

2019-20 (WAS): 6 GP, 4.5 PPG, 1.5 APG, 37 FG%, 25 3PT%, 71 FT%, 13.3 MPG, 6.6 PER, 0 WS

He was signed to play in the Orlando bubble, but he did not play very well this season.  He shot the ball well last season for the Magic in 2019, but he ended up out of the NBA before signing on to play for the Wizards late this season.  If he sticks around in 2021, most likely he would a backend of the roster sort of player in the association.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Depth guard, backend roster player
Projected 2021 Rating: 1.5 stars

Side note: Will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2019-20 season.

Head Coach:
Scott Brooks – C

2020 (WAS): 25-47, missed the playoffs
Head Coaching Career: 487-376, 48-44 in the playoffs

The Wizards were going to play a full season without their star point guard, John Wall, and they were expected to be one of the worst teams in the NBA.  They were, but they did end up getting an invite to the coveted Orlando bubble.  They had a sterling season from superstar guard Bradley Beal, and from a developmental standpoint, they did a good job of developing young players such as Thomas Bryant, Rui Hachimura, Isaac Bonga, Troy Brown, and others.

Projected Role: Head coach of the Washington Wizards
Projected 2021 rating: 2 stars

2019-20 Washington Wizards, season grade: C

As a team, they did a good job of making threes and scored a lot of points, and he did a good job of passing and taking care of the basketball.  However, the Wizards were one of the worst teams defensively, and they will also need to improve their ability to rebound the basketball.  Next season, with John Wall coming back, and with Bradley Beal returning for another year, with their young players continuing to flourish on the court, the Wizards could surprise, but most likely they will fight with the other teams in the East for the 8th seed next season.

The Washington Wizards’ Projected 2020-21 NBA Rotation

Projected Starters:
C Thomas Bryant
F Rui Hachimura
The 9th Overall Pick of the 2020 NBA Draft
G Bradley Beal
G John Wall

Key Reserves:
F Davis Bertans* (UFA)
F Isaac Bonga
G-F Troy Brown
G Ish Smith

Others competing for a spot in the rotation next season:
F-C Moritz Wagner
G Garrison Matthews (Two-Way Contract)
G Jerome Robinson
G-F Admiral Schofield
The 37th Overall Pick of the 2020 NBA Draft

Other players that are currently projected to be on their next season’s roster:
Anzejs Pasecniks

Players that will be Restricted Free Agents:
None

Players that will be Unrestricted Free Agents:
Davis Bertans
Shabazz Napier
Ian Mahinmi
Gary Payton II
Jarrod Uthoff
Jerian Grant

Projected Players Cut from Next Season’s Roster:
None

2020 NBA Draft Picks:
#9, #37

Projected Offseason Plan for the Wizards:
John Wall hasn’t played basketball in 1½ years due to an Achilles injury, but he will be healthy to return for the 2020-21 season.  Considering he’s on a hefty contract in which he’ll make $41 million next year, it’s unlikely that the Wizards will be able to move him even if they wanted to, so they’ll likely have no choice but to try to make Beal and Wall work together once again.

The Wizards have gotten inconsistent results with those two paired together, as they’ve put together some promising years for their team, and some frustrating ones.  They’ve gotten to the 2nd Round in the postseason with those two, and they’ve also missed the playoffs.  They also had solid seasons from Bryant and Hachimura, but the Wizards really struggled defensively in 2020. 

Most likely, the Wizards will probably draft a defensive-minded player that can play out on the wing, and such players that come to mind are Isaac Okoro, Devin Vassell, and Tyrese Haliburton, with Josh Green and Patrick Williams also in the mix, but they could also take a highly rated prospect if he slips such as Onyeka Okongwu.  The Wizards will be capped out, so their best bet is to try to re-sign Davis Bertans, make a decision on whether to bring back Shabazz Napier and the others, and then fill out the roster with players on minimum contracts.

Expected Regular Season Record in 2021*: 26-46, 13th in the Eastern Conference

Expected 2021 Season Outcome: They will compete for the 7th or 8th seed in the East, but they will likely miss the playoffs in 2021.

(* – The asterisk denotes that the expected regular season win total is adjusted for the 72 game schedule that the NBA will play for the 2020-21 season.  The initial projection for the Wizards was for them to get 30 wins in an 82-game season.  Also, the projected record does not take into account for the NBA draft or free agency, as those events have not happened yet.)

Side note: Also, the letter grades attached to the player name was my grade for their 2019-20 season, as it is my judgment of their performance and whether or not they met or exceeded my expectations, and didn’t have much bearing on my projection of how they will perform for the 2020-21 NBA season.

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