After seeing how a horrid start ruined last season for the Washington Wizards, they are no doubt crossing their fingers that all their main cogs enter opening night with a clean bill of health.
Unfortunately, good health or not, Washington may again stumble out of the gate. With the NBA releasing their schedules yesterday, one thing is clear, they didn’t do the Wizards any favors. Washington’s schedule has them playing 10 road games versus seven home games in the season’s opening month, with six of their first seven games taking place on the road.
With Washington finishing 7-34 on the road last season, the early road trip can’t be a welcome sight for the Wizards. If that wasn’t bad enough, nine of their first 17 games are against playoff teams. While that might not sound like a tough schedule, consider that the other eight games are against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Dallas Mavericks, Toronto Raptors, Minnesota Timberwolves and Philadelphia 76ers. Of the group, only the Sixers — and maybe the Raptors, maybe — have a sure-fire spot in the lottery.
Furthermore, Washington will probably require time to develop team chemistry. While many of last season’s main contributors return, you have to take into account that, due to injury, their was almost always a major cog missing. While John Wall‘s absence at the outset of last season is well documented, many forget that Bradley Beal and Nene were in and out of the lineup during his torrid stretch to end the year.
While I fully expect Washington to make a run at a playoff spot next season, juggling a tough early schedule and team chemistry could have Washington in a familiar place in the Eastern Conference standings early on: the bottom.