NBA Season Preview 2019-20: Every team’s biggest question

Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images
Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images /
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Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images
Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images /

Washington Wizards: What’s next for Bradley Beal?

Little more than two years ago, the Washington Wizards, fresh off their best regular season since the 70s, battled the Celtics in the second round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs. It was a series the Wizards would ultimately lose, but watching franchise player John Wall celebrate in front of his home crowd after a thrilling Game 6 win, you couldn’t help but think they appeared poised to emerge as serious contenders in the East for years to come.

How quickly things change. Just a couple seasons later, after a series of unfortunate injuries to Wall, the Wizards seem resigned to irrelevance. Wall stands to miss the entire 2019-20 NBA season as he recovers from a ruptured Achilles tendon, and Washington seems ticketed for a spot near the bottom of the conference as a result.

At the very least, the downfall of the Wizards can’t be attributed to Bradley Beal, who is playing the best basketball of his career on one of the heaviest workloads in the entire league. As Wall has been in and out of the lineup with various injuries, Beal has averaged at least 36 minutes per game in each of the past two seasons, leading the NBA in total minutes by a hefty margin in 2018-19. In those minutes, he’s been outrageously productive. Last season, he became the first player in franchise history to average 25 points, five rebounds and five assists across a complete season. Not Wall, not Gilbert Arenas — Bradley Beal.

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Newly appointed GM Tommy Sheppard has taken the reins after 16 years of Ernie Grunfeld, and he’s immediately faced with a crossroads: Does he trade his star guard and launch into a prolonged rebuilding period (that his tenure with the team may not survive)? Or does he hang on to Beal and attempt to retool on the fly around the 26-year-old, risking losing him in the summer of 2021 for nothing? It’s an impossible decision, but one that Sheppard and the Wizards will have to make very soon.