Wizards enter evaluation mode against Jazz, now that playoff hopes have been dashed


At 14 games under .500 with only six to go, the Wizards were long since prepared for the news on Thursday night that they would officially not be making the playoffs this season. It came as no surprise and, really, they had already reflected that reality with head coach Scott Brooks' rotation in recent games.

Now that it is official, Brooks can further adjust his approach with doling out minutes and that process begins with a 9 p.m. Friday night tip-off against the Utah Jazz on NBC Sports Washington.

Most interesting will be how Brooks and the Wizards handle Bradley Beal. The two-time All-Star leads the NBA in minutes this year and has a history of over-use injuries. He has played in every game dating back to the start of last season.

Logic would suggest the Wizards cut his minutes down from the 37.6 he has averaged this season. Beal even mentioned that as a plan to reporters on the Wizards' recent road trip.

But how much will they decrease his minutes is a real question. Keep in mind Beal is in the running for the final All-NBA guard spot. If he were to get All-NBA, he would be eligible for a supermax contract. That means he has tens of millions of reasons to want to keep playing.

There will be other elements of Brooks' rotation that could change. For one, rookie Troy Brown Jr. has been starting the last four games, but has averaged a relatively modest 26.6 minutes during that span. Perhaps the Wizards extend his playing time into the 30s now with nothing to lose.

We should also expect to see more experimenting from Brooks as the Wizards evaluate which players to keep this summer. They need to get a good read on who they like and who can play well with each other.

Though they have finally started to play Thomas Bryant and Bobby Portis on the floor at the same time, the two have only played 71 total minutes together. There are some other combos they might like to see. For example, the trio of Portis, Brown and Jabari Parker has only played 34 minutes. Or, Brown, Parker and Jeff Green who have only shared the floor for 16 total minutes.

Also, keep in mind that the end result of each game still matters because of the draft lottery. The Wizards enter their match-up with the Jazz with the eighth-best odds. More losses can help their chances, while wins can hurt them. They can still enter the lottery anywhere from fifth to 14th in terms of odds.

Brooks and his players may not actively approach in-game situations with that in consideration. But those of us watching and evaluating this team certainly will.


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