The 2021 Washington Wizards in Review

July 11th, 2021

By Alan Lu

The Wizards landed a big trade to acquire superstar guard, Russell Westbrook to pair him up with their franchise player, Bradley Beal to start the season.  They also had drafted rookie forward, Deni Avdija, as they seemed to plan for him to be the ultimate complementary player to suit both Beal and Westbrook’s skill sets.

At the start of the season, the Wizards got off to a very bad start, and early on, it seemed as if they would be dangerously on the verge of missing the playoffs.  But then, the Washington Wizards got hot in the second half of the season, as they received strong performances from both Beal and Westbrook, and the Wizards were able to make it to the play-in tournament.  They were able to make it to the playoffs on two tries in the play-in tournament, but they lost their first-round series in 5 games to the Philadelphia 76ers.  Shortly afterwards, the Wizards and their head coach, Scott Brooks mutually agreed to part ways.

Washington Wizards’ superstar guard, Bradley Beal had a very good season, as he made another NBA All-Star team, and helped lead his team to get to the 2021 NBA playoffs this year.
(Photo:
Rob Carr/Getty Images, via InsideHook)

G-F Bradley Beal
2021 (WAS): 60 GP, 31.3 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 4.4 APG, 1.2 SPG, 48 FG%, 35 3PT%, 89 FT%, 22.7 PER, 59 TS%, 5.9 WS, .132 WS48

Beal played very well this past season, and he especially thrived as a shooter, scorer, and facilitator for his team.  His only flaw may have been his defense, but he did a tremendous job of helping his team on offense, and Beal was able to make his 3rd NBA All-Star team this past season.

2021 Season Grade: A-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Starting shooting guard on the Washington Wizards
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 3.5 stars (4 stars potential)

Washington Wizards’ superstar point guard, Russell Westbrook averaged a triple-double, as he was able to get his team to the NBA playoffs this year.
(Photo:
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

G Russell Westbrook
2021 (WAS): 65 GP, 22.2 PPG, 11.7 APG, 11.5 RPG, 44 FG%, 32 3PT%, 66 FT%, 19.5 PER, 51 TS%, 3.7 WS, .075 WS48

Westbrook had a solid season with the Wizards this year.  He had a slow start, but he was able to really pick it up in the second half, as he was a triple-double machine to help propel his team to the playoffs.  He is a tremendously athletic guard that can really score, rebound, and make plays on offense.  He also defended fairly well.  He struggled with his outside shot, but he did everything else very well for his team.

2021 Season Grade: B+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Starting point guard on the Washington Wizards
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 3.5 stars

C Thomas Bryant
2021 (WAS): 10 GP, 14.3 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.5 APG, 65 FG%, 43 3PT%, 67 FT%, 18.7 PER, 70 TS%, 1 WS, .171 WS48

Bryant was playing well, at least from an offensive standpoint before his season was cut short due to a knee injury.  He did a very good job of shooting and scoring the basketball, though he didn’t quite rebound nor defend as well as he had last year.  The most important things for him next season will be for him to get healthy and to be injury-free next year.

2021 Season Grade: B-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Starting center on the Washington Wizards
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2.5 stars

F Rui Hachimura
2021 (WAS): 57 GP, 13.8 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.4 APG, 48 FG%, 33 3PT%, 77 FT%, 11.4 PER, 55 TS%, 2.1 WS, .056 WS48

Hachimura was able to put up numbers in volume.  He is a versatile combo forward that can score in a variety of ways and rebound the basketball, but he will still need to improve his three-point shot, playmaking skills, and defense.

2021 Season Grade: C
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the Washington Wizards
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars (2.5 stars potential)

F Deni Avdija
2021 (WAS): 54 GP, 6.3 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 1.2 APG, 42 FG%, 32 3PT%, 64 FT%, 7.6 PER, 52 TS%, 1.2 WS, .046 WS48

Avdija had an up and down, rookie season with the Wizards this year.  He started off shooting and defending well in a supporting role, but he struggled more as the year went along.  His shooting percentages came tumbling down after a hot start, and he struggled to adjust to getting limited touches in an offense that heavily featured Beal and Westbrook.

Avdija still rebounded and passed the ball well, but he didn’t fare nearly as well later in the year, as he saw his playing time vacillate, and he ended up getting hurt and missing the rest of the season due to a leg injury late in the year.

2021 Season Grade: C
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the Washington Wizards
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars (2.5 stars potential)

F Dāvis Bertāns
2021 (WAS): 57 GP, 11.5 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 40 FG%, 39 3PT%, 87 FT%, 11.4 PER, 62 TS%, 3.1 WS, .101 WS48

Bertans seemed to do one thing well, but he did one valuable thing really well, and that was to shoot the basketball.  Bertans is a very tall shooter that excelled as a floor spacer for the Wizards this past season.  He didn’t do other things nearly as well in the non-shooting or scoring related categories, but he is a sharpshooter that can knock down threes and stretch the floor.

2021 Season Grade: C+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the Washington Wizards
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2.5 stars

Washington Wizards’ center, Daniel Gafford played very well for them after being acquired in a midseason trade this past season.
(Photo:
Rob Carr/Getty Images, via Fansided’s Wiz of Awes)

C Daniel Gafford
2021 (CHI/WAS): 54 GP, 7 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 1.4 BPG, 68 FG%, 67 FT%, 22.2 PER, 70 TS%, 3.5 WS, .209 WS48

Gafford played very well, as he really excelled as an interior player on both ends of the floor.  He is a very athletic big man that excelled at finishing plays above the rim in the playoffs in his team’s first round series against Philadelpia.

2021 Season Grade: B+ (B w/CHI, A- w/WAS)
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the Washington Wizards
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2.5 stars

Gafford’s contract is non-guaranteed for next season.

G-F Garrison Mathews (Two-Way)
2021 (WAS): 64 GP, 5.5 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 41 FG%, 38 3PT%, 88 FT%, 9.7 PER, 63 TS%, 2.3 WS, .108 WS48

Mathews seemed to do one thing well, and he excelled as a floor spacer for his team this past season.  He didn’t shoot the ball nearly enough, nor did he quite shoot as well as he did as a rookie, but he still seemed to do enough to warrant being in the rotation for this past season.

2021 Season Grade: C+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the Washington Wizards
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars (2.5 stars potential)

C Robin Lopez
2021 (WAS): 71 GP, 9 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 63 FG%, 16.7 PER, 66 TS%, 3.7 WS, .131 WS48

Lopez was fairly effective as a scorer around the basket, but he didn’t really do other things nearly as well when he was on the court, and he was a limited use, rotational, backup center in the NBA for the Wizards.

2021 Season Grade: C
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the Washington Wizards
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars

Robin Lopez will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season.

G Raul Neto
2021 (WAS): 64 GP, 8.7 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 2.3 APG, 47 FG%, 39 3PT%, 88 FT%, 13 PER, 57 TS%, 2.8 WS, .097 WS48

He also played well in his role this past season.  Neto excelled as a shooter and defender this past season, but his assist rates really dropped this year.

2021 Season Grade: B
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on an NBA team
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars

Neto will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season.

C Alex Len
2021 (WAS): 64 GP, 6.6 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 1 BPG, 62 FG%, 32 3PT%, 63 FT%, 16.4 PER, 64 TS%, 2.7 WS, .133 WS48

Len was a very good pickup, as they signed him off the scrap heap after Toronto had cut him this season.  Len excelled as an interior player for their team, and he especially thrived in his role for Washington.

2021 Season Grade: B
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on an NBA team
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars

Will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season.

G Ish Smith
2021 (WAS): 44 GP, 6.7 PPG, 3.9 APG, 3.4 RPG, 43 FG%, 37 3PT%, 58 FT%, 11.6 PER, 47 TS%, 1.1 WS, .056 WS48

Smith was able to pass and defend, and he also rebounded the ball well.  Unfortunately, he did shoot the ball well at all, and he didn’t see as much playing time as he did last year.

2021 Season Grade: C-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars

Smith will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season.

G-F Isaac Bonga
2021 (WAS): 40 GP, 2 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 37 FG%, 28 3PT%, 63 FT%, 4 PER, 46 TS%, 0 WS, -.001 WS48

After having a surprisingly solid second season as an athletic, skilled point forward, Bonga regressed considerably, as he saw his playing time reduced, and he didn’t seem to do much of anything particularly well this past year.  He had a hard time adjusting to the team’s stronger depth and to a lack of playing time, and he could’ve used some time in the G-League to work on his game to get his skills back up to speed.

2021 Season Grade: D-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)

G-F Chandler Hutchison
2021 (CHI/WAS): 25 GP, 4.3 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 38 FG%, 36 3PT%, 84 FT%, 6.8 PER, 47 TS%, -0.1 WS, -.007 WS48

Hutchinson excelled at shooting threes and at rebounding the basketball, but he struggled to score consistently or efficiently when he was on the floor.  He hasn’t quite been the scorer as advertised, and he hasn’t really added much in terms of playmaking or defensive skills.  Right now, he is a fringe candidate for Washington’s rotation next season.

2021 Season Grade: C-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)

G Cassius Winston (Two-Way): C+
2021 (WAS): 22 GP, 1.9 PPG, 42 FG%, 47 3PT%, 83 FT%, 10.8 PER, 58 TS%, 0.1 WS, .066 WS48
2021 (G-League): 15 GP, 12.8 PPG, 5.6 APG, 2.8 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 43 FG%, 36 3PT%, 83 FT%, 14.7 PER, 59 TS%, 1 WS, .103 WS48

He didn’t get much playing time this year, but he was effective as a shooter and floor spacer in limited minutes in the NBA, but his performance at both levels suggests he may top out as a backup point guard in this league.

2021 Season Grade: D+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)

F Anthony Gill
2021 (WAS): 26 GP, 3.1 PPG, 2 RPG, 50 FG%, 29 3PT%, 81 FT%, 13.7 PER, 60 TS%, 0.6 WS, .123 WS48

He played well in limited minutes, as he excelled as an inside scorer, rebounder, and defender, but he will need to improve his outside shot and playmaking skills.

2021 Season Grade: C+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)

G-F Caleb Homesley
2021 (WAS): DNP
2021 (G-League): 15 GP, 9.3 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 2.4 APG, 1.2 SPG, 41 FG%, 35 3PT%, 75 FT%, 13.3 PER, 53 TS%, 0.6 WS, .073 WS48

Homesley played in the G-League and he showed off the ability to play in a 3 and D role at that level.  He certainly had some good games in the G-League, but he didn’t end up playing an NBA regular season game, though.

2021 Season Grade: Incomplete (C in the G-League)
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Fringe roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1 stars (2 stars potential)

Head Coach:
Scott Brooks
2021 (WAS): 34-38, 1-4 in the playoffs
Coaching Career: 521-414, 49-48 in his playoff career

After a bumpy start to the season, Washington Wizards’ former head coach Scott Brooks managed to get his team to the playoffs in his final season as their head coach.
(Photo:
Scott Taetsch/Getty Images, via SB Nation’s Bullets Forever)

After really struggling out of the gates, Brooks managed to turn it around to get Beal and Westbrook and his team to be on the same page, and they ended up finding a way to make it to the 2021 NBA playoffs as the 8th seed in the East.  Brooks had managed to turn what seemed like a sinking ship, and he managed to guide his team to the postseason.

However, they didn’t last long there, and they ended up losing in 5 games to the 76ers in the 1st Round, and Scott Brooks and the Wizards split up, as Brooks left his job post as the head coach at the end of the season.

2021 Season Grade: C+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Assistant coach for the Portland Trail Blazers
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars

A Brief Summary of the 2020-21 Washington Wizards’ Season:

Bradley Beal played well all year long, but the Wizards struggled with injuries and inconsistent play this season.  Russell Westbrook really turned it up and played very well in the second half.  The Wizards were able to get to the playoffs to meet expectations, but they didn’t do much as they lost in the first round in this postseason.

The 2020-21 Washington Wizards’ Season Grade: C

The Washington Wizards’ Projected 2021-22 NBA Rotation:

Projected Starters:
C Thomas Bryant
F Rui Hachimura
F Deni Avdija
G Bradley Beal
G Russell Westbrook

Key Reserves:
F Davis Bertans
C Daniel Gafford
G Garrison Mathews
The 15th Overall Pick of the 2021 NBA Draft

Others competing for a spot in the rotation next season:
G-F Isaac Bonga
G-F Chandler Hutchinson
G Cassius Winston
F Anthony Gill

Other players that are currently projected to be on their next season’s roster:
G-F Caleb Homesley

Projected Offseason Plan for the Washington Wizards:
The Wizards don’t really have any cap space to work with, so they may either try to re-sign their current players, or use that to get the best players available in free agency or the draft to bolster the depth and talent level of their roster.

2022 Wizards’ Expected Win-Loss Record, and Projected 2022 Season Prediction:
39-43, 8th in the Eastern Conference in 2022

Expected 2022 Season Outcome:
They are expected to be a mid to lower tier playoff team in the East.

I primarily went to Basketball-Reference and No Trade Clause for research purposes. To see my grading scale in terms of how I rate players and coaches, you can click here. Thanks for reading.

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