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How The Wizards Should Approach The Final 28 Games

The Washington Wizards (9-45) are currently on an eight game losing streak as the season reached its midway point. Interim head coach Brian Keefe has made noticeable adjustments during his 11-game tenure at the helm, but the postseason is nonexistent. The Washington Wizards future will depend on these last 28 games.

How the Wizards Should Approach the Final 28 Games

Continue to Develop the Young Core

Washington currently possesses three young and promising assets in forwards Corey Kispert, Deni Avdija, and Bilal Coulibaly.

Bilal Coulibaly

Coulibaly, a 19-year old rookie, has had a promising freshman campaign in the NBA. The 2023 first-round pick was recently selected for the NBA Rising Stars event during All-Star Weekend. Coulibaly played only eight minutes in the loss against the G-League Rising Stars, but he’s still been a bright spot for Washington this season.

Coulibaly averages 26.9 minutes per game (sixth among rookies) and has started in five games this season. He garners 8.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and shoots 44.4 percent from the field, respectively. Coulibaly has shown flashes of being a solid asset for the Wizards due to this 6-foot-8 frame and his tenacity on both ends of the floor.

Corey Kispert

Kispert has arguably been the Wizards best player off the bench this season. In the month of February, Kispert averages 16.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.7 assists while shooting 48.1 percent from the field, respectively. The 2021 first-round pick also garnered double-digit scoring performances in six of the last eight games.

Kispert is aggressive offensively, as he currently averages 4.3 drives per game and scores on 61.1 percent of those drives, respectively. Kispert is dangerous to any defense, as he has the ability to stretch the floor with his perimeter shooting, which allows spacing to the other Wizards on the floor.

Deni Avdija

Avdija’s leap compared to last season has been nothing short of impressive. The 2020 first-round pick is fresh off tallying four-consecutive 20-plus point performances. Avdija averages 13.8 points (career-high), 3.8 assists (career-high) while shooting 52.1 percent from the field (career-high) and 40.5 percent (career-high) from three-point range, respectively.

The Washington forward contributes heavily in every facet of the game for Washington, as Advija’s confidence and aggressiveness are apparent nightly.

Hopefully Jordan Poole Shows Improvement

Wizards guard Jordan Poole has had an underwhelming campaign in his first season as a full-time starter in Washington. In 52 games, Poole averages 15.6 points, 3.7 assists, 2.4 rebounds while shooting 40 percent from the field (lowest outside of rookie year) and 30.3 percent (lowest outside of rookie year) from beyond the arc, respectively.

Poole has shown to be complacent on both ends of the floor and has demonstrated poor shot selection throughout the season. On the year, Poole currently has a +/- of -352, which proves he has minimal to no impact when he’s on the floor. The former Golden State Warrior has had recent poor performances against the Dallas Mavericks (1-12 from the field), Cleveland Cavaliers (0-5 from the field), and the Phoenix Suns (1-7 from the field), respectively.

Poole is currently on a 4-year, $128 million dollar contract he signed with Golden State back in 2022, which makes his average salary around 32 million. It’s unlikely Keefe will bench a player making that much money and his high-upside, but Poole’s poor performance on the court and the improved play of Kispert off the bench is something to watch for as the season wanes.

The Futures of Kyle Kuzma, Tyus Jones, and Marvin Bagley III

Kyle Kuzma

Kuzma was rumored to be traded prior to the trade deadline. Kuzma is arguably Washington’s best player, as he averages  21.8 points (leads team), 6.3 rebounds, and 4.2 assists on 45.6 percent shooting from the floor, respectively. Outlets reported that if Kuzma was traded to the Dallas Mavericks, Washington would’ve received two first-round picks. Instead, Kuzma made his intentions of staying in Washington clear on social media and wants to build a winning culture. The Washington front office and Kuzma seem to have a solid relationship, and with Kuzma under contract throughout the 2026-2027 season, he seems to be content with his role and the direction of the team going forward.

Tyus Jones

Jones, who averages 12.6 points and 6.8 assists, was rumored to be traded at the trade deadline. Jones’s strengths while on the floor are in pick-and-roll situations. The Washington guard ranks in the 82.5 percentile in pick and roll plays, respectively. Jones also is a factor in Washington leading the league in pace at 103.13 and fourth in the league in transition, respectively. Jones recently tallied back-to-back 15 and 16 assist performances prior to the All-Star break. The former Duke Blue Devil survived the trade deadline perhaps due to his level of play or lack of trade partners. Regardless, the front office views Jones as a mainstay, and an extension may be coming his way.

Marvin Bagley III

Bagley III has provided a much-needed energy boost since coming to Washington via a trade from the Detroit Pistons on January 14. Bagley recently returned to game action after suffering a back contusion that caused him to miss four-consecutive games in February. Since the departure of center Daniel Gafford via a trade to Dallas, Bagley III is at the helm down low.

Bagley averages 13.8 points and 8.3 rebounds with the Wizards, respectively. Washington is one of the league’s worst teams interiorly, but Bagley’s athleticism, aggressiveness and awareness bodes well for the Wizards on that front. Bagley’s resurgence is promising and if he can stay consistent throughout the final 28 games, Bagley could stay in Washington in the coming years.

The Last Word

Keefe will not be the Wizards’ official head coach after the season according to reports that came out when former head coach Wes Unseld Jr. was fired. However, that doesn’t mean Keefe won’t continue to develop the young core, work with Poole, and let the veterans in Kuzma, Jones, and Bagley prove themselves to lucrative contracts.

The approach for the final 28 games of the Wizards 2023-2024 season is critical for its future, however, its first stop is a date with the defending NBA champions Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets on Thursday.

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