Wizards projected lineup and rotations heading into 2023-24 season

Jordan Poole, Washington Wizards (Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images)
Jordan Poole, Washington Wizards (Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images) /
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Daniel Gafford (Photo by Jess Rapfogel/Getty Images)
Daniel Gafford (Photo by Jess Rapfogel/Getty Images) /

Washington Wizards starting center: Daniel Gafford

Only 24 years old, there’s still a bright NBA future ahead for Daniel Gafford. He played 78 games last season (47 starts) and averaged 9.0 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks in 20.6 minutes per game. His workload should increase to a career high next season with the frontcourt rotation stripped down to its bare essentials.

Gafford possesses excellent physical tools, standing 6-foot-10 and 234 pounds with a 7-foot-3 wingspan. He’s explosive off the ground, making him one of the league’s more prolific per-minute shot blockers. He commands the glass as well and he’s a hyper-efficient rim finisher. Gafford shot 73.2 percent from the field last season, the best mark of his career.

The Wizards will rely on Gafford to anchor the defense. Given the relative weakness and/or inexperience of the pieces around him, he will have his hands full. He’s nimble on his feet and a genuine deterrent at the rim, but he spent much of last season sharing the floor with Kristaps Porzingis. Any such safety net is out the window now.

On offense, Gafford remains fairly limited. He doesn’t score outside the paint and he averaged as many turnovers as assists in 2022-23. He’s adequate enough as a vertical threat who sets solid screens, but any hope of genuine offensive growth starts with exploring more as a passer.

Primary backup center: Mike Muscala

Mike Muscala has been genuinely very good over the last few seasons in OKC, although he was buried under the Thunder’s mountain of youth. He ended up in Boston at the trade deadline and supplied rock-solid minutes for a contender. With the Wizards, he should receive a steady dose of playing time at the five. His 3-point shooting remains a valuable tool (39.1 percent on 3.3 attempts in 15.0 minutes per game).

The Wizards have plus shooters at every position. There will be nights where Moose closes games or at least rivals Gafford for playing time. He has ample experience as the vet in the middle of a rebuild. He should be a useful voice in the locker room and a source of poise on the court. Expect him to work diligently and effectively under the radar.

Other players who could receive minutes at center: Kyle Kuzma

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