Clearly, the Wizards are not among the most followed teams for the coming season, and the first forecasts place them around 10th place in the East, in the fight for a place in the “play-in”. Bradley Beal has extended his lease in his team forever, and he will form a “Big Three” with Kyle Kuzma and Kristaps Porzingis. At their side, some good young people like Deni Avdija, Rui Hachimura or Daniel Gafford.
To reinforce this hard core, management made a trade with the Nuggets by releasing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Ish Smith to recover Monte Morris and Will Barton. On the experience side, Taj Gibson arrives, and Wes Unseld Jr is satisfied to be able to count on this heterogeneous group with confirmed veterans. Starting with Monte Morris. At 27, he is already in the bottle with several great playoff campaigns.
” In fact, I’ve already seen some of its immediate impact explains the Washington coach at The Athletic. ” He’s a connector, and I don’t know how he does it, but everyone knows him and beyond the field he does a great job of making himself seen. He is obviously a playmaker at heart. … He’s proud to lead the team, and I think that’s going to be a huge advantage for this group, because he will know what the group needs at the right time. »
After his transfer, Monte Morris had precisely mentioned this role of leader to get the best out of Bradley Beal.
” I always thought that Bradley [Beal] was the best defender in the league “, he had explained. ” I was telling my teammates how amazing he is, he’s quick and he can take any shot. He’s athletic, he’s energetic and he wants to win, so I’m excited to play with him. I hope he feels the same on his side. We are going to play hard on the counter-attack, I am going to pass the ball to him where he needs to receive it, because that is my role: to put ourselves in good situations and in good positions, to be successful and play a high level. »
“Let this competition be ‘with each other, not against each other'”
What Wes Unseld Jr appreciates is that the competition is healthy within the group. Last season, the group had been undermined by tensions and even clashes.
” We want there to be as much competition as possible, but that this competition is “with each other, not against each other”. You want to push the guy next to you, but let it be in a healthy way. I think with the squad we have, the guys understand that mindset. They try to push the guy next to them to give their best. »
For GM Tommy Sheppard, the presence of a veteran like Taj Gibson will be very valuable to keep this competitive spirit alive.
” There is someone who should not be overlooked and who has a fantastic presence for us, it is Taj Gibson by his ability to bring people together”, said the leader. “We have a lot of good connectors. I think there are stints, and I kind of expanded on those guys for a minute, but they’re really people with character, who love being here, who love representing DC They can’t wait to to be in front of the fans and show that it’s new, that it’s a new team. And we are very happy. »