2. Washington Wizards
While Russell Westbrook helped the Wizards mount a furious late-season run and end up in the postseason, Washington went in a different direction. In return for Westbrook, the Wizards received Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Montrezl Harrell, all players who look like damaged goods right now given a subpar season in LA.
With Bradley Beal’s impeding free agency set to come next year and a trade request not imminent, the Wizards are doing everything they can to keep him happy. Washington acquired Spencer Dinwiddie via a sign-and-trade, and drafted Gonzaga senior Corey Kispert, someone who’s ready to play quality minutes right away.
Both moves were made to provide Beal with much-needed help.
Defense is still a major concern for the Wizards.
Despite being fifth in points per game (116.3 PPG), the Wizards allowed a league-worst 118.8 opponent points per game. Just looking at their roster from top to bottom, it doesn’t seem like Washington did much to improve on this end, even with a defensive-minded coach in Wes Unseld Jr.
Harrell became unplayable at times in the playoffs when teams attacked him in the paint, and Kuzma has struggled as a ‘tweener’ on defense for most of his career because he’s too slow to guard wings and too weak to guard bigs.
Washington’s model seems to revolve around scoring and nothing but scoring. They have the roster to fill this model, but it’s been proven that offense can only take you so far. Down the stretch, getting a key stop on defense is just as important as a bucket.
The Raptors are a smart, disciplined team on offense, and they proved that in their games against Washington this season. They should feel confident in going shot-for-shot with Washington thanks to all the talent they have on this roster.