When the Washington Wizards initiated their rebuild this summer, they were well aware of forthcoming growing pains, and the overwhelming need for patience – both from themselves and their fan base.
However, the Wizards unquestionably believed they had gotten themselves a player in Jordan Poole, who could perhaps become the cornerstone of that rebuild, or at least a crucial component of it.
So far, that optimism has taken a hit.
Poole, who fans had pegged as a potential candidate to lead the league in scoring, is putting up just 16.6 points per game, and has one game of 30 points over his first 13 games of the season.
Granted, the season is young, and Poole has time to change course. After all, he’s a talented player who won a championship with the Golden State Warriors in 2022, and averaged over 20 points for them last season.
Yet, there’s a somber feeling developing around Poole. It’s not just the lack of points, and overall production, but rather the way he goes about the season.
His shot-selection is rushed and uncalculated, his defense is practically not present, and despite those obvious elements, he seems to carry himself as Washington’s franchise savior.
It’s a problematic turn of events, which should have the Wizards lowering their already low expectations based on the data collected over their first 13 games.
Poole, who is 24, is connecting on just 39.6% from the field, and 28.4% from three-point territory. His compensation of $27.4 million would have been easier to swallow for Washington if he didn’t have another three years left on his contract, totaling over $94 million.
If this is the new norm for Poole, the years attached to his deal could be extremely difficult to move in a trade, meaning Washington could be stuck with him for a while.
If nothing else, it puts the onus on Washington to cash in on Kyle Kuzma as soon as possible, as the 6’8 forward is actually producing this season.
Kuzma, who re-signed on a deal worth $90 million over four seasons, is netting 23.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 3.9 assists on the year, hitting over 47% from the field, and doing so in just over 30 minutes per game.
The idea behind re-signing Kuzma, who is 28 and thus not included in the long-term thinking of the organization, was to get something for him in a trade, as to not lose him for nothing in unrestricted free agency.
So far, Kuzma has produced to a point where it’d be shocking if not at least a handful of teams were interested in his services.
But for the Wizards, a team with a bare cupboard, only being able to maximize one of their two highest paid players in a trade will prove to be an uphill battle. They didn’t get a big return for Bradley Beal due to his no-trade clause, and are desperate to create a treasure trove of assets to use in the next half decade.
There’s still time, of course, but so far it looks like it’ll be a challenging few years in Washington.