The Washington Wizards saw their season come to an end with a first-round loss to the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2021 NBA Playoffs.
The Wizards can now turn their attention to what is shaping up to be another important offseason.
The 2021 NBA Draft
Picks: No. 15
Prospects to target: Usman Garuba (Real Madrid), Cameron Thomas (LSU), Chris Duarte (Oregon)
The Wizards own the No. 15 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.
NBA.com's Kyle Irving has University of Illinois combo guard Ayo Dosunmu ranked 15th on his big board while Eric Fawcett has Oregon wing Chris Duarte tabbed as the 15th-best prospect in the upcoming NBA Draft.
With respect to need, those two represent a very realistic direction that Washington could elect to go.
Should the Wizards look to strengthen their backcourt rotation, they could opt for a guard like Dosunmu, Sharife Cooper, Jared Butler, Tre Mann or Josh Giddey, each of whom is ranked in the neighborhood of Washington's selection.
On the wing, Duarte, along with Stanford's Ziaire Williams and Michigan's Franz Wagner, are each viable options, with Williams having the best tools to become an impactful defender at the next level.
With Deni Avdija, Thomas Bryant, Daniel Gafford and Rui Hachimura on the roster, Washington has an interesting young core that becomes even stronger with a difference-maker selected in the upcoming draft.
- Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21)
Upcoming free agents
The Wizards could lose some of their depth this offseason.
At the season's end, Robin Lopez, Ish Smith, Raul Neto and Alex Len will be unrestricted free agents. Isaac Bonga, Garrison Matthews and Cassius Winston, meanwhile, will be restricted free agents.
Lopez and Len were a key part of Washington's center rotation this season while Smith and Neto were a key part of its guard rotation.
|Unrestricted Free Agent(s)||Restricted Free Agent(s)|
|Robin Lopez||Isaac Bonga|
|Ish Smith||Garrison Matthews|
|Raul Neto||Cassius Winston|
With Russell Westbrook ($44.2 million), Bradley Beal ($34.5 million) and Davis Bertans ($16.0 million) on the books for next season, the Wizards will have little-to-no cap space to work with in free agency, limiting their ability to upgrade this roster.
- Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles)
Will there be a major shake up?
Following Washington's elimination from the playoffs, general manager Tommy Sheppard was quoted saying that "this is not a run-it-back team. We have to get better. So, to do that, you have to run it better."
Last offseason, the Wizards made the swap to acquire Westbrook for John Wall, which proved to pay dividends as Westbrook's stellar play down the season's stretch run propelled Washington's late postseason push. Now what?
The draft? The Wizards can get value with the 15th pick, but it's unlikely that a rookie taken in the mid-first round lifts this team into the top half of the Eastern Conference.
A coaching change? Scott Brooks' contract is up and there haven't been too many developments on negotiations, but is now the time for the franchise to go in a different direction? Fred Katz of The Athletic has reported that Brooks built positive momentum with the way Washington closed the season, which could bode well for his future on the sidelines for at least the coming season.
Is there a trade to be made? Save for the team's star backcourt and its last two lottery picks, it's unclear which players have enough value to yield a notable return. With respect to the Wizards' backcourt, these moves will be made with free agency potentially looming for Beal, who has a player option for the 2022-23 season.
Beal, who turns 28 this summer, is entering his 10th NBA season, but the Wizards have not won a playoff series since his fifth year in the league. The potential for Beal to opt out will put pressure on the Wizards front office to keep their All-Star happy with the direction things are going.
The clock's ticking.
One key stat
Beal scored 30 or more points in 34 games this season. The only players with more 30-point games? Stephen Curry (38) and Damian Lillard (35).
Beal's highest scoring game of the season came in a loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Jan. 6. In 38 minutes of play, he scored a career-best 60 points on 20-for-35 shooting from the field, 7-for-10 from 3-point range and 13-for-15 from the free throw line.
The best buckets from @RealDealBeal23's career-high 60-point night. pic.twitter.com/3l1obVJVhh- NBA (@NBA) January 7, 2021
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