The Washington Wizards entre this season with a huge question mark over their heads. They were expected to be a much-improved team this season - which wasn't a difficult thing to accomplish, to be honest - and now all of a sudden they could be a playoff team.
The Wizards were reluctant to hit the panic button and just kick off their rebuild. They traded for a bona fide All-Star in Russell Westbrook to pair him with Bradley Beal and some of their young guns, and now it may seem like they have something nice going on for them.
Obviously, they still have to prove that they have what it takes to make the playoffs even in a weaker Eastern Conference, but we like what we see in the paper right now. In the following paragraphs, we'll let you know just how their starting lineup will look like to begin the season.
Bench: Ish Smith, Raul Neto, Cassius Winston, Jerian Grant, Gary Payton II, Jerome Robinson, Caleb Homesley, Marlon Taylor, Deni Avdija, Garrison Mathews, Isaac Bonga, Anthony Gill, Yoeli Childs, Jarrod Uthoff, Robin Lopez, Moritz Wagner, Anzejs Pasecniks
Point Guard: Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook is one of the most controversial players of all time. No one denies his talent and ability to rack up stats at a historical rate. However, his decision-making, lack of improvement as a shooter, and never-ending drive have constantly backfired.
Even so, Bradley Beal and John Wall were one of the best backcourts in the league when they were both healthy, so there's no reason to think that Beal and Brodie can't be as good or even better next season. His legacy is on the line and he knows it.
Shooting Guard: Bradley Beal
Bradley Beal has to be one of the most underrated and disrespected players in the league. I just don't get how he didn't make the All-Star or an All-NBA team despite averaging 30.5 points on 45.5% from the floor to go along with 4.2 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game.
Beal's defense is far better than shown last season. He's basically getting punished for staying loyal to the Washington Wizards organization rather than forcing his way out of the team. Now, you've poked the bear and he's definitely going to play with a chip on his shoulder next season.
Small Forward: Troy Brown Jr
Troy Brown Jr continues to fly under the radar and that's a huge mistake. He may not be a superstar-caliber player but he's a hard-working young man that can get hot in the blink of an eye and score in bunches from everywhere on the court.
Brown Jr still needs to put in some work to improve as an off-ball defender and not get caught between screens. Outside of that, he can be a huge x-factor for this team thanks to his ability to knock down shots from beyond the arc at a high rate. If not, star prospect Deni Avdija will be right there to eat up some of his minutes.
Power Forward: Rui Hachimura
Ever since he was playing for the Gonzaga Bulldogs, Rui Hachimura has been drawing contrasting takes. He's got a privileged body and is a great athlete, but those comparisons with Giannis Antetokounmpo seem quite far-fetched, to say the least.
Hachimura has the upside and tools to become a pretty good two-way player. He's got the size, length, and strength to dominate, but he's still pretty raw overall on both ends of the floor. Hopefully, he'll step up in his sophomore season.
Center: Thomas Bryant
Thomas Bryant came almost out of the blue before making his way to the Washington Wizards' starting lineup. He's a nice physical presence below the rim and has improved his post skills, even though he still needs to bulk up a little more to make the most of his potential.
Bryant has also added the three-point shot to his offensive repertoire which will get him plenty of wide-open looks with Russell Westbrook's drives. Also, Westbrook has made his roll-men better along the years, so we can expect Bryant's scoring numbers to go up next years.