The Washington Wizards took care of one of their off-season priorities recently, re-signing franchise guard Bradley Beal on a max contract.
Beal’s return sets up optimism in D.C. for a Wizards team that has not made it out of the first round of the NBA Playoffs since 2016-17.
Front office head Tommy Sheppard has built himself a darn good roster in the nation’s capital. That included the blockbuster trade of Russell Westbrook to the Los Angeles Lakers last summer and the acquisition of Monte Morris from the Denver Nuggets earlier this offseason.
With expectations high heading into the 2022-23 season, one player will be a focal point outside of Beal. That comes in the form of an injury-plagued enigma in Kristaps Porzingis who the Wizards acquired from the Dallas Mavericks during February’s NBA trade deadline.
Washington sent Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans to Big D for Porzingis. The idea was to provide Beal with another star-level player to team up with. Sure the two didn’t play together last season due to Beal’s injury, but the hope is that they’ll gel early next season.
Kristaps Porzingis as a Washington Wizards X-factor
It was back in 2017-18 that the Unicorn was seen as one of the best young players in the NBA. The No. 4 pick of the New York Knicks a couple years prior, this Latvia native jumped on to the scene big time. Standing at 7-foot-3, he was heralded as a generational talent. For good reason.
Kristaps Porzingis stats (2017-18): 22.7 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 44% shooting, 40% 3-point
At just 22 during his breakout campaign, Godzingis took the Big Apple by storm. Unfortunately, it has been all about injuries since. After suffering a torn ACL during that 2017-18 campaign, Porzingis has averaged a mere 50 games over the past three years. He suited up in just 51 games between the Mavericks and Washington Wizards a season ago.
Set to turn 27 in August, Porzingis believes that he can turn around a fledgling career with the Wizards. He also recently talked about his injury issues.
Playing out the string for a non-contending Wizards team a season ago following his trade back in February, Porzingis performed well. He averaged 22.1 points and 8.8 rebounds on 48% shooting in 17 games. That’s the best production we’ve seen from the big man since the aforementioned 2017-18 season.
Kristaps Porzingis and the Washington Wizards depth chart
In addition to acquiring Morris from the Denver Nuggets, Washington brought in Will Barton in the aforementioned trade. It also signed veteran forward Taj Gibson recently.
While we expect another move or two this summer, the Wizards’ depth chart is absolutely stacked. In fact, there’s not enough minutes to go around.
- Point guard: Monte Morris, Delon Wright
- Shooting guard: Bradley Beal, Corey Kispert, Johnny Davis
- Small forward: Will Barton, Deni Avdija
- Power forward: Kyle Kuzma, Rui Hachimura, Anthony Gill
- Center: Kristaps Porzingis, Daniel Gafford
This is a roster that goes at least 12 deep. Unfortunately, Washington lost center Thomas Bryant to the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency. It creates somewhat of a hole behind Porzingis at the five.
That’s where the big man comes into play. Simply put, Washington needs Porzingis to both stay healthy and perform at a high level if it’s going to compete in what is a stacked Eastern Conference next season.
This article was originally published on Sportsnaut.com and is republished here with permission.