The Washington Wizards 2019-20 season officially ended last Thursday with a victory over the Boston Celtics to avoid a winless stay in the Orlando bubble. Without John Wall, the season was expected to be a struggle and it was to the tune of a 25-47 (.347) record. Now entering the final year of his five-year, $35 million contract, Scott Brooks spoke to the media on Tuesday as the organization now shifts gears to the 2020-21 season. Here are the best quotes from Brooks' 34-minute end of season availability.
"It doesn't look like that, that might not be the case," Scott Brooks honestly speculating about the likelihood of a back to normal next season.
"I think we got a pretty fair, good idea about what the players really are and who they can become. We got a lot of young players. Not one player we had in the bubble is a finished product," Brooks responded when asked if the Wizards met their No. 1 goal of learning everything about what they had on the roster during the bubble play.
"With what I've seen in John over this past season, all the work that he's put in and then the work that he is putting in now, I'm excited about the potential with the added young talent we have that, the talent that is going to continue to grow, get better, and a piece we are going to get in the lottery in the draft this year. There's always a free agent here and there," Brooks said to increase optimism about the Wizards' 2020-21 season prospects.
"He looks great, he's excited, he's fired up. He's grown as a person as we all do. His little boy [Ace] is just amazing to see him grow up and seeing their relationship," Brooks described about John Wall. "Not only as a player on our team, but a father and a very good one, he's so involved and that's great to see. You see the same thing with a lot of our players and Brad is no different. I think balance helps you be a better player."
"He was following Rui when he wasn't playing much his freshman year at Gonzaga," Brooks said about general manager Tommy Sheppard who Brooks also credited for adding several young pieces without giving much up.
"I do know one thing, Tommy and his group have done a tremendous amount of work and they're diligent. They're scouring the entire world looking for the right player to help us get better. Even if we don't move up [in the 2020 draft], look what happened last year, we actually moved down and it landed us an impact player in Rui," Brooks described independent of where Washington lands in Thursday's draft lottery.
On Rui Hachimura specifically, Brooks was impressed with his rookie season especially that the 22-year old earned and continued to maintain his starting role throughout the season. Brooks saw Hachimura's game take a jump after he returned from injury and also saw the game slow down in the bubble with a willingness to take more chances.
"We need to do better defensively, we need better rim protection, shot-blocking, shot altering at the rim. We have to do it within our group and also a chance to pick up a free agent or draft," Brooks responded when asked where Washington needs to improve their roster. A hint towards who the Wizards will look to sign in free agency, a veteran rim protector to backup Thomas Bryant.