The Wizards lost their third game in as many tries during the preseason, handing the victory over to the Raptors 113-108. Yet, there’s more than just the final score to consider when evaluating this team. Let’s take a look at some takeaways from the contest:
1 – Kyle Kuzma is getting settled in. The forward didn’t play great during his first two preseason games, though against the Raptors, he looked much more comfortable, making eight of his 12 shots from the field (24 points). Kuzma said him getting more familiarity with Bradley Beal and Spencer Dinwiddie played a role in him, breaking out while also adding that he feels like he has his legs back under him after some hard practices at Wizards HQ.
Kyle Kuzma says more familiarity with Bradley Beal, Spencer Dinwiddie led to tonight's breakout (24 points on 8-of-12 shooting).
— Chris W. Crouse 🏙 (@NBACrouse) October 13, 2021
2 – Don’t worry about Bradley Beal’s shooting woes. Preseason games matter in the NBA but the individual stats in those games don’t necessarily hold too much weight. Beal made just 1-of-11 from the field vs. Toronto but he spent chunks of his on-court time getting his teammates involved (Beal’s six assists were only behind Dinwiddie’s seven for the team lead). Expect Beal to be more efficient going forward.
3 – Daniel Gafford continues to blossom. The big man had 14 points and 17 rebounds, the latter of which is the most he’s had in any NBA contest (h/t to Wizards’ PR for the statistical notes). Coach Wes Unseld Jr. started Gafford for the third straight game and although he gave Montrezl Harrell some minutes with the starters tonight, Gafford looks to be a lock to remain atop Washington’s depth chart once the season begins next week.
4 – It might take a while for the Wizards’ new roster to gel. Will it take close to a quarter of a season though? Kuzma told NBC Sports at halftime that he thinks it could take upwards of 20 games for the Wizards to put it all together.
— NBCSports Washington (@NBCSWashington) October 13, 2021
Washington returns just five players—Beal, Gafford, Raul Neto, Anthony Gill, and Rui Hachimura—who saw any sort of meaningful action in their playoff series loss to the Sixers last year, so some sort of slow start is to be expected. However, if it takes Washington past Christmas time to figure things out, then we may be looking at a team that digs itself into a hole in the Eastern Conference standings yet again (but also a team that’s talented enough to climb out of it).