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October 21, 2016

Washington Wizards: Record last season: 41-41

Postseason results: None

Additions: Ian Mahinmi, Trey Burke, Andrew Nicholson, Jason Smith, Danuel House, Sheldon McClellan, Casper Ware

Subtractions: Ramon Sessions, Jared Dudley, Garrett Temple, Nenê, Drew Gooden, J.J. Hickson, Alan Anderson

Biggest move: Re-signing Bradley Beal

Projected Finish: Eighth in the Eastern Conference

Entertainment ranking: 17. With fired coach Randy Wittman no longer around to blame, the pressure falls on star guards John Wall and Bradley Beal to pull the Wiz out of their frustrating inconsistency. — Ben Golliver

Preseason Power Ranking: 21. Ian Mahinmi’s already hurt, John Wall and Brad Beal are passively feuding, and Scott Brooks has lots of work to do. — Jeremy Woo

One number: 27. So much of what they are and could be depends on Bradley Beal’s health. There is no more versatile scorer on the Wizards’ roster; Beal is a pick-and-roll creator, a natural shooter off curls, and a deadly spot-up option who’s the perfect complement to John Wall. Frequent injuries, however, have kept Beal from gaining much developmental traction. Last year Beal missed 27 games, the third time in his four seasons he’s sat out at least 19. Washington has suffered for it.

The hope entering this season is a familiar one: that Beal’s worst impediments are behind him, allowing the 23-year-old to take meaningful steps forward and push the Wizards—who were five games worse last year than in 2014–15—along with him. Beal’s getting right won’t fix all of the profound weirdness that loomed over the team last season (most notably the tension between Beal and Wall). It can, however, give Washington its best chance at playoff competence. The floor is better spaced with him on it. Wall’s work in piloting the offense is far easier with Beal involved. Just by doing what he does best, Beal anchors Washington’s backcourt and protects its shaky bench from overextension. — Rob Mahoney

Scouting report: They could have issues lingering from last season. It’s well-known that John Wall and Bradley Beal don’t always see eye to eye. That could create problems. . . . If Beal, Wall and Otto Porter are all playing together, you have one of the best one-two-three combinations in the East. . . . There’s nobody in the league faster from end line to end line than Wall. Nobody can get to the rim and finish like he can. But his lack of perimeter shooting has really held him back. And he’s looking to shoot a little more than he probably should. Sometimes he plays too fast, where he’s just running past everybody and it’s one-on-four. He’s got to learn to play more cerebrally. . . . A new start should be a good for Markieff Morris. He allows them to play small and space the floor, ­because you really can’t play ­Marcin Gortat and Ian ­Mahinmi together. Morris fits in well with either of them. He’ll stretch the floor, he’ll be able to run. If he produces at the four and Porter elevates his game, they’ll be pretty good ­offensively. . . . Mahinmi’s known as a defensive player and a ­rebounder. He has the skills to go out and guard the pick-and-pop, which a lot of centers struggle to do. He doesn’t have great hands, and doesn’t have the touch Gortat has or the ability with his back to the basket. The combination of Gortat and Mahinmi, if they were one player, would be pretty good. . . . [New coach] Scott Brooks needs to do a lot of the same things he did in Oklahoma City: change the culture, implement a system. Brooks is a proven winner. Granted, he had good talent, but he did win with it.

Bottom Line: A capable roster with a winning coach makes the Wiz a compelling group in the East.

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