The hype surrounding Russell Westbrook’s arrival to Washington Wizards was something that this franchise lacked since the 2010 NBA draft. Back then, John Wall landed in DC as the top pick and one of the biggest prospects in the world.
Wall left the Wizards, but he got a worthy replacement, the former MVP and one of the most influential players in the history of the league. Many are wondering now, are the Wizards capable of reaching the playoffs following a two-year absence.
The way they started the season, the answer would be no, but it is way too early for any strong predictions. The Wizards began the campaign with five straight losses but are 3-3 after that. Though the team from the capital had several of its players tested for COVID-19, having to postpone some of its contests. Just to mention that predictions for NBA games like these, postponed ones, are available on this link.
To come back to our original topic. Can the Wizards make the playoffs? According to the bookies no. The odds for them to reach the postseason are 7/5, and to miss it 1/2. Per the same bookmakers, they are among the weakest teams in the Southeast Division and have slim prospects of winning this assembly – 10/1. The East conference champs, Miami Heat are the No.1 here with the odds at 4/7, Atlanta Hawks are second 10/3, Orlando Magic, 7/1. The only ones behind Washington are the Charlotte Hornets, 20/1.
The Wizards’ poor start is most definitely due to a lack of chemistry between Westbrook and the rest of the team, especially Bradley Beal. It might sound a bit odd, but the Wizards played better without Brody.
He averages near-triple-double stats, 19.3 points, 9.7 boards, and 11.3 assists, yet that apparently isn’t enough. He and Beal need to find the rhythm, and Russ needs to understand that he won’t be the only team-leader. If that is possible.
Washington is Beal’s team, and the sharpshooting guard became one of the most prolific scorers in the league over the past two seasons. He even has better chances than Westbook to win the MVP award, which is a reliable indicator for understanding who is the better player at the moment.
Westbrook is 275/1, while Beal sits at 100/1. At the moment, Luka Doncic leads the way with 4/1, ahead of the reigning back-to-back winner, Giannis Antetokounmpo, 5/1. Nets’ Kevin Durant is next with 11/2, and Nikola Jokic sits fifth with 7/1. LeBron James, 9/1, Steph Curry 10/1, and Joel Embiid 12/1 are also in the mix.
Apart from acquiring Westbrook, the Wizards had a quiet offseason. They didn’t add any other big-time name. The most sounding one is Robin Lopez, who arrived from Milwaukee Bucks on a one-year deal. The organization resigned Davis Bertans, keeping the Latvian sharpshooter for the next five years with an $80 million contract.
He became a very important piece of Washington’s unit, imposing himself as the sixth player and the one who gives a boost coming off the bench.
The bookmakers placed his name on the list of the possible NBA Sixth Man of the Year award winners. With the odds 25/1 to grab the honors, he is in the middle tier, aligned with the likes of Gary Trent Jr, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Alec Burks. The top favorite is Utah Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson with 2/1, followed by Chris Boucher from the Toronto Raptors, 7/1. Miami’s Goran Dragic is 10/1, and Terrence Ross from the Magic sits at 12/1.
We need to mention Deni Avdija, a big prospect coming from overseas. The young Israeli forward was selected as the ninth pick at this year’s draft, and he already showed a solid talent in the opening 11 matches. As time goes by, he will undoubtedly become better and better, and the Wizards could get one massive foundation for the future.