The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

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February 23, 2024

Wizards Weekly: Season Preview

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@WashWizards

The start of the 2023-2024 NBA season marks the beginning of a new era for Washington Wizards basketball. Roster moves made during the off-season mark the end of an era and exciting new beginnings. The upcoming season will be the first in which neither member of Washington’s long-standing backcourt duo, Bradley Beal and John Wall, will be wearing a Wizards uniform for the first time since 2010.

 

The Off-Season

Throughout the off-season, Washington took advantage of trade opportunities.

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The Wizards started with a blockbuster three-team trade to send franchise cornerstone Bradley Beal to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for guards Chris Paul and Landry Shamet — the seventh overall pick in the 2023 NBA draft —  along with a load of draft picks and pick swaps for the future. Chris Paul wasn’t a Wizard for long, as he was sent to the Golden State Warriors for young star guard Jordan Poole, Patrick Baldwin Jr., Ryan Rollins, a 2027 second-round pick, a 2030 first-round pick top 20 protected and cash considerations.

With the roster already heavily shaken from 2022’s version, the Wizards continued making moves. The subsequent transaction sent center Kristapas Porzingis to the Celtics in another three-team trade from which the Wizards acquired Tyus Jones, Danilo Gallinari, Mike Muscala and the 35th pick in the NBA draft. While this was the last trade made in the off-season, Washington moved to secure a spot on the roster for a star player. Forward Kyle Kuzma, who had a great 2022 season in Washington, was given a four-year extension worth $120 million.

 

The Draft

With the draft pick received through the Chris Paul trade, Washington selected guard Bilal Coulibaly who stands six feet seven inches with a seven foot three inch wingspan. He made a name for himself defensively in France with his elite athleticism, which Washington hopes to build on this upcoming season. 

Their second-round pick was Tristian Vukcevic, a seven foot tall center out of Italy. However, despite playing in the summer league for Washington, he will likely return to playing in Serbia instead of joining the team this season. 

 

Expectations and Potential Growth

With all of the off-season trading, Washington’s roster will have a significantly different look. The new duo of Kyle Kuzma and Jordan Poole will hopefully bring Washington their much-needed long-term inside presence on offense, while also preserving the offensive firepower that Wall and Beal showcased in the nation’s capital in years past. This year’s Wizards aren’t a team in contention for the playoffs, but they will be looking for improvements from some young prospects. 

Guard Johnny Davis, taken in the first round of the 2022 draft, hasn’t been playing up to first-round quality. But with the ball-dominant Beal out of Washington, Davis will be able to spend a majority of the season in the NBA as he spent much of last season in the G League. 

Two past first-rounders, Corey Kispert and Deni Advija, also need to step up their game. Advija showed flashes of potential last year, especially on the defensive side of the basketball. Kispert also played well, finishing top 10 in the league for three-point percentage, but he left a lot to be desired from the Wizards’ front office. 

With the influx of new players and young prospects who will hopefully solidify the team as a playoff contender in the future third-year coach Wes Unseld Jr. has a lot on his plate for this upcoming season of Wizards basketball.

 

Week One Preview

The Wizards open up their 2023–2024 campaign on the road versus 2022 All-Star Tyrese Haliburton and the Indiana Pacers on Oct. 25. Both teams finished with identical 35–47 records in 2022–2023 and tied their previous season series 2–2. Their next matchup will be the home opener at Capital One Arena on Oct. 28 against the Memphis Grizzlies. Memphis comes into the season as one of the most prominent question marks in the NBA, with the suspension of superstar guard Ja Morant leaving the team with lower expectations than their 53–29 record last season. 

Two days later, on Oct. 30, the Boston Celtics will be in D.C., marking Porzingis’ return to Washington after his off-season trade. The Celtics come into the season tied with the Denver Nuggets as preseason favorites to win the NBA Finals (+450) after acquiring Jrue Holiday from the Portland Trail Blazers. 

Washington ends their first week of NBA action on the road on Nov. 1 against Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks. Atlanta finished with a .500 winning percentage last season and lost their first-round playoff matchup to the Celtics. Their off-season was pretty quiet, with their only significant move being trading forward John Collins to the Utah Jazz in return for Judy Gay. Washington faces a challenging first week of the season facing three playoff teams from last season, providing a great test for this young, fresh roster.

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William English, Sports Writer
Grade 12 Why did you join the Black and White? Because Sports Journalism is my passion What is your favorite song of all time? Rich Spirit - Kendrick Lamar

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