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Washington Wizards success will depend heavily on Kristaps Porzingis

Vincent Frank

The Washington Wizards took care of one of their off-season priorities recently, re-signing franchise guard Bradley Beal on a max contract.

Beal’s return sets up optimism in D.C. for a Wizards team that has not made it out of the first round of the NBA Playoffs since 2016-17.

Front office head Tommy Sheppard has built himself a darn good roster in the nation’s capital. That included the blockbuster trade of Russell Westbrook to the Los Angeles Lakers last summer and the acquisition of Monte Morris from the Denver Nuggets earlier this offseason.

With expectations high heading into the 2022-23 season, one player will be a focal point outside of Beal. That comes in the form of an injury-plagued enigma in Kristaps Porzingis who the Wizards acquired from the Dallas Mavericks during February’s NBA trade deadline.

Washington sent Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans to Big D for Porzingis. The idea was to provide Beal with another star-level player to team up with. Sure the two didn’t play together last season due to Beal’s injury, but the hope is that they’ll gel early next season.

Related: Washington Wizards standing in our latest NBA power rankings

Kristaps Porzingis as a Washington Wizards X-factor

NBA: Washington Wizards at Minnesota Timberwolves
David Berding-USA TODAY Sports

It was back in 2017-18 that the Unicorn was seen as one of the best young players in the NBA. The No. 4 pick of the New York Knicks a couple years prior, this Latvia native jumped on to the scene big time. Standing at 7-foot-3, he was heralded as a generational talent. For good reason.

Kristaps Porzingis stats (2017-18): 22.7 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 44% shooting, 40% 3-point

At just 22 during his breakout campaign, Godzingis took the Big Apple by storm. Unfortunately, it has been all about injuries since. After suffering a torn ACL during that 2017-18 campaign, Porzingis has averaged a mere 50 games over the past three years. He suited up in just 51 games between the Mavericks and Washington Wizards a season ago.

Set to turn 27 in August, Porzingis believes that he can turn around a fledgling career with the Wizards. He also recently talked about his injury issues.

“Of course, my body is particular, I’m 7-foot-3 — you know the way I move. But the injuries that I’ve had have been contact injuries, the two major ones — the ACL and the meniscus. So that’s something you can’t really avoid. It can happen, and it happened to me. I haven’t had the best luck in that sense.”

Washington Wizards’ Kristaps Porzingis on injury issues, via The Washington Post

Playing out the string for a non-contending Wizards team a season ago following his trade back in February, Porzingis performed well. He averaged 22.1 points and 8.8 rebounds on 48% shooting in 17 games. That’s the best production we’ve seen from the big man since the aforementioned 2017-18 season.

Related: How a John Collins trade to the Washington Wizards could look like

Kristaps Porzingis and the Washington Wizards depth chart

In addition to acquiring Morris from the Denver Nuggets, Washington brought in Will Barton in the aforementioned trade. It also signed veteran forward Taj Gibson recently.

While we expect another move or two this summer, the Wizards’ depth chart is absolutely stacked. In fact, there’s not enough minutes to go around.

  • Point guard: Monte Morris, Delon Wright
  • Shooting guard: Bradley Beal, Corey Kispert, Johnny Davis
  • Small forward: Will Barton, Deni Avdija
  • Power forward: Kyle Kuzma, Rui Hachimura, Anthony Gill
  • Center: Kristaps Porzingis, Daniel Gafford

This is a roster that goes at least 12 deep. Unfortunately, Washington lost center Thomas Bryant to the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency. It creates somewhat of a hole behind Porzingis at the five.

That’s where the big man comes into play. Simply put, Washington needs Porzingis to both stay healthy and perform at a high level if it’s going to compete in what is a stacked Eastern Conference next season.