Although the Wizards’ season officially ended with our final game on Sunday in Charlotte, we’ve spent the last several days wrapping things up with player exit interviews on Monday, media availability with Tommy Sheppard and Wes Unseld on Tuesday and an inspiring visit yesterday to see the unveiling of renovations to the Unselds’ School in Baltimore.
- Wizards and Heart of America unveil refurbishments at The Unselds’ School
- Baltimore Sun: Unselds’ School in West Baltimore unveils renovations: ‘It is about the kids’
- NBC Sports Washington: Wizards unveil renovations to Unselds’ School
- WBAL-TV: Unselds’ School receives makeover thanks to Wizards, Heart of America
I was joined there by Tommy and Wes (the first graduate of the school) and seeing the legacy of a project started by Connie and Wes Sr. over 40 years ago still going strong under the leadership of Kim Unseld reminded me that accomplishing something special requires time, hard work and patience. Sticking with the plan while building with and around quality people is the right way to achieve success.
Regardless of how others will evaluate the team’s performance this season, we did not live up to our own expectations. We fell short on getting our defense up to par and we weren’t able to improve upon our playoff appearance from last season. Injuries and illness, while not excuses, certainly factored into our inconsistency. We had 29 players on our roster, tied for most in the league and the most in franchise history. There is much work to be done, but there were also bright spots that left me confident that we are building from a positive place.
Wes’ passion, preparation and poise earned him the respect of our players, especially under the circumstances mentioned above (difficult for any head coach, not just one in his first year). Tommy has put together a talented core of veterans all under the age of 30 (led by Bradley Beal, Kristaps Porzingis, Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope) who are supplemented by a group of draft picks and acquisitions all 24 or younger (Rui Hachimura, Deni Avdija, Corey Kispert and Daniel Gafford).
Bradley continued to etch himself into our franchise’s history despite his season being cut short with an unfortunate injury; he is now in the top three in eight different categories among our all-time leaders and in the top five in three others. He needs just over 1,300 more points to pass Elvin Hayes as our all-time leading scorer. We couldn’t ask for a better leader for our team on and off the court.
Kristaps’ unique combination of skills and size opens many possibilities with our roster on both ends of the floor. He averaged 22.1 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.5 blocks as a Wizard (better overall numbers than during his 2017-18 All-Star campaign) and was one of only six players (Embiid, James, Antetokounmpo, Towns and Davis) to average at least 20 points, eight rebounds and one block. Kuz was our most consistent performer all season, as well as our most clutch. We knew he would score and defend for us, but it was fun to see his complete game blossom in our offense, evidenced by career-high numbers in rebounds, assists, blocks and double-doubles. KCP was a steady “3 & D” presence throughout the year, leading us in three-pointers and steals while starting in all 77 games in which he played.
Rui added a new dimension to his game, making nearly half his three-point attempts (.447, tops in the league for players with at least 100 three-pointers attempted). Deni was one of only five players in the NBA to play in all 82 games and raised his averages in every statistical category. Corey broke Bradley’s franchise record for most threes made by a rookie and averaged 11.8 points in 36 games as a starter. Daniel shot .693 from the field and finished in the top 10 in blocked shots.
We are excited for what is to come because we are on the right path and building the right way. The front office will enhance our roster during the offseason through the draft, free agency and trades. The coaching staff is committed to taking that collective group of players and maximizing their potential. We will be better. Thank you fans for your support…we will stay connected this summer as we take these steps to improve our team.