After trading longtime star, Bradley Beal, who played 11 straight years with the team, the Washington Wizards are ushering in a new era for the franchise with Jordan Poole.
Over the last few seasons, the Washington Wizards have been a stagnant organization, finishing 12th in the Eastern Conference standings in consecutive years. Headed into the 2023-2024 season, the new Wizards general manager, Will Dawkins, looked to reinvigorate the franchise through an influx of youthful talent.
Dawkins was able to do just that by trading a 30-year-old Bradley Beal, the team’s longtime franchise player, to the Phoenix Suns for assets that would, in return, land them Jordan Poole and Patrick Baldwin Jr., two key pieces to the Warriors’ championship run.
Last season, Poole averaged around 20 points per game, and with his expanding role on this new Wizards offense, fans expect a significant increase in his production. When future Hall of Fame point guard, Steph Curry, missed significant time with injuries last season, Poole averaged 30 points per game in that stretch, displaying his scoring dominance when used as a primary ball handler, and solidifying himself as a number-one option on any team.
Poole may be the leader of the pack, but he isn’t the only top dog who is expected to lead the Wizards this season. With their first selection in the draft this year, the Wizards selected Bilal Coulibaly, a French point guard who played beside standout rookie, Victor Wembanyama. In contrast to Poole, who is known for his offense, Coulibaly is known for his defensive prowess.
In an interview with ESPN, the French defensive stalwart spoke on his defensive ability. “My defensive abilities allowed me to get on the court and impact the team in a positive way,” Coulibaly said. “I credit being part of the professional group early on, being integrated quickly into the group, and having a coach as great as Vincent Collet guide me. My confidence grew as opportunities came.”
Even though the Wizards are working to improve, longtime fans like Howard student and D.C. native, Christian Gordon struggle to be optimistic about the team’s future. “I can’t really see myself being too excited for this team because I don’t want to get disappointed again,” he said.
The struggles of the Wizards’ past still haunt the fan base and the organization. Under new general manager Will Dawkins, and their youthful backcourt of Coulibaly and Poole, there is hope that the Washington Wizards can reach heights the franchise hasn’t seen before.
Copy edited by Whitney Meritus