Washington Wizards

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The Washington Wizards, a pro-basketball team in the National Basketball Association (the NBA), is a part of the Southeast Division in the Eastern Conference. The team plays its home games at the Capital One Arena, which is located in the Chinatown neighbourhood in Washington DC. This venue used to be known as the Verizon Center and it has served for the Georgetown Hoyas in college sports as well as the Washington Capitals in the NHL.

The Wizards were founded in 1961. They have had a transient history and the team nickname has changed several times.

At the time of founding, they were established in Chicago, Illinois as the Chicago Packers before being renamed to the Chicago Zephyrs the next season. However, just two years after establishment, they relocated to Baltimore, Maryland, and were again renamed, this time to the Baltimore Bullets.

Eventually, this team nickname would be considered insensitive, however, “the Bullets” stayed with the franchise for a number of years. After moving to the Washington Metropolitan area in 1973, the team rebranded again to the Capital Bullets, then again to the Washington Bullets the following year. It wasn’t until 1997 that they became known as the Washington Wizards, which is the name of the team that sports fans will recognize today.

Since their inaugural season in the NBA, the team has made it to the NBA Finals four times, winning it just once. They have reached the playoffs 28 times, they have won eight division titles, and the franchise has won the Eastern Conference title four times. Their best regular-season record came in 1975, when they had a result of 60-22. They have had just one Most Valuable Player (MVP) in their history,  Wes Unseld (1969). He was also the MVP of the 1978 NBA Finals. The franchise has had four players win the Rookie of the Year Award.

Interesting Facts

The Washington Wizards are the only franchise besides the Chicago Bulls that Michael Jordan played for. He spent the tail-end of his playing career with Washington. Although his best basketball was behind him at that point, he still had some highlights as a member of the Wizards.

The Washington Bullets abandoned the nickname in the 1990s. Although “bullets” can suggest speed, it was thought that the term was a poor marketing tool due to the association with urban violence.

The two tallest players that ever played in the NBA, Gheorghe Muresan and Manute Bol (7 ft 7) both played for the Washington Wizards. The two shortest players in the NBA history, Mugsy Bogues and Earl Boykins (5ft 3), also played for the Wizards as part of their careers.

An Unstable History

The Wizards, as we now know them, were created as the first modern expansion team in NBA history and first started playing as the Chicago Packers. Back in the early days, their star player was Walt Bellamy, who, in his rookie year, averaged 31.6 PPG and 19.0 RPG.

The Packers, who were named after Chicago’s meatpacking industry, played their home games at the International Amphitheatre, which was also known as the Chicago Coliseum. The team’s nickname wasn’t popular for a reason that many modern NFL fans might guess. Green Bay’s football team also used the nickname, the Packers, and this was a point against any notion of originality. Furthermore, the Green Bay Packers were hated rivals of sports fans in Chicago, fans that were partial to their hometown Chicago Bears.

The Packers, as the original nickname of the franchise, just didn’t stick very long. They rebranded to the Chicago Zephyrs and moved their home game stadium to the Chicago Coliseum. Chicago is known as a “The Windy City” and a Zephyr is a type of breeze that is soft and light. During this year they signed the former Purdue player, Terry Dischinger. He would also win the Rookie of the Year Award for the franchise.


The 60s and early 70s was a time of mediocrity for the team – and it was only in the later years of the 70s that they made a real impact. The team boasted future Hall of Famers, Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes – and finished the 1977-78 season with a respectable 44-38 record.

However, they certainly weren’t expected to win the championship, but the fans held out hope – and stormed through the NBA Playoffs, facing off against the Seattle Supersonics in the NBA Finals. They won in seven games and took the championship back to Washington, DC. This is the first and only time the team has ever been NBA Champions. The following season, the team moved over to the Atlantic Division.

A Rebrand

It was in 1995 that the team’s owner, Abe Pollin, announced that there would be a change of name, given the violent overtones connected to the name ‘Bullets’ that he wasn’t happy with, given the recent rise in homicide and crime rates in the early 1990s. As such, the team held a competition to choose a new name and the options were narrowed down to Dragons, Stallions, Sea Dogs, Express and Wizards – and in May 1997 the team was branded The Wizards. However, even this courted controversy, given that ‘Wizard’ is a rank of the Klu Klux Klan – and Washington has a large African American population. They also changed team colors to blue, black and bronze – matching the city’s NHL team, the Washinton Capitals also owned by Pollin. That year they also moved their home base to what was the MCI Arena but is now called the Capital One Arena, which is shared with the Capitals and Georgetown Hoyas men’s basketball team.

In 1998, the team became the brother team to the Women’s National Basketball Association team – the Washington Mystics and remained so until the Mystics were acquired by Lincoln Holdings, headed by Ted Leonsis. However, in 2010 he went on to purchase the Wizards as well and again, they became sibling teams.

Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan – a player with numerous accolades, retired from the Chicago Bulls in 1999 and became the Vice President of Basketball Operations as well as a minority owner of the Wizards in early 2000. In 2001, Jordan came out of retirement to play for the Wizards – he said it was ‘for the love of the game’. However, he had to divest himself of any ownership to do so. Before the All-Star break, he was one of just two players who managed an average of more than 25 PPG – and until that point led his team to a 26-21 record. However, his knee couldn’t cope with a full season and he went out injured – and finished the season with a record of 37-45 and missed the playoffs.

He did announce that he would be back for the 2002-03 season and decided to return with reinforcements in the form of All-Star Jerry Stackhouse and up and coming star Larry Hughes. He even accepted a 6th man role on the bench to help his knee survive the season. However, lots of injuries and poor play saw Jordan make the starting lineup where he tried to get the Wizards back up again. But still, they ended up with a 37-45 record. Jordan ended up playing all 82 games with an average of 20 PPG, 6.9 RPG and 3.8 APG. He retired at the end of the season

At the season end, Pollin fired Jordan as Team President in a shock move and Jordan felt betrayed, believing he would go back to part ownership when no longer playing.

The following season was better for the team and, now part of the Southeast Division, they ended up with e record of 45-37 – their best in 26 years. This was their first time in the playoffs as The Wizards

Washington Wizards and the 2023 NBA Draft

The Washington Wizards had the 8th pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. They selected Jarace Walker, a power forward who was with Houston (NCAA). Washington traded Walker to the Indiana Pacers. In the second round, Washington selected Tristan Vukcevic, a Serbian PF/C. With one of the final picks of the draft, Washington took another power forward in Trayce Jackson-Davis.

Washington Wizards 2023 NBA Season Preview

The Washington Wizards are going to look different in the 2023/24 NBA season. Bradley Beal is gone to Phoenix. Kristaps Porzingis is gone to Boston. Kyle Kuzma is a free agent and the balance of the conjecture on where he will land would suggest one thing: not in Washington.

These guys did not actually get things done for the Wizards in the 2022/23 NBA season. The Wizards went 35-47 and missed the play-in tournament by a large margin. There isn’t anyone you can look at with Washington for the upcoming season with a ton of confidence to make them a contender.

Jordan Poole, a new acquisition, played well with Golden State but he was also surrounded by talent. While his usage may go up in Washington and his averages may improve in kind, Washington need to upgrade in order to avoid being one of the bottom teams in the conference.

Current Washington Wizards Players Under Contract

  • Jordan Poole
  • Landry Shamet
  • Daniel Gafford
  • Tyus Jones
  • Monte Morris
  • Johnny Davis
  • Deni Avdija
  • Corey Kispert
  • Delon Wright
  • Patrick Baldwin Jr.
  • Danilo Gallinari
  • Mike Muscala
  • Xavier Cooks
  • Ryan Rollins
  • Anthony Gill
  • Quenton Jackson

Washington Wizards Free Agency Players 2023

Kyle Kuzma is a very significant free agent with Washington as of late June 2023.

Previous Washington Wizards Draft Selections Since 2000

Year Round Pick Player Pos Age Pre-Draft Team

2023 1 8 Jarace Walker PF 19 Houston (NCAA)

2022 1 10 Johnny Davis SG 20 Wisconsin

2021 1 15 Corey Kispert SF 22 Gonzaga

2020 1 9 Deni Avdija SG 19 Maccabi Tel Aviv

2020 2 37 Vit Krejci PG 20 Zaragoza (U18)

2019 1 9 Rui Hichamura F 21 Gonzaga

2018 2 15 Troy Brown Jr SF 18 Oregon

2018 2 44 Yusuf Sanon SG 18 Union Olimpija

2015 1 19 Jerian Grant SG 22 Notre Dame

2015 2 49 Aaron White F 22 Iowa

2014 2 46 Jordan Clarkson G 22 Missouri

2013 1 3 Otto Porter SF 20 Georgetown

2013 2 38 Nate Wolters PG 22 South Dakota State

2013 2 54 Arsalem Kazemi F 23 Oregon

2012 1 3 Bradley Beal SG 19 Florida

2012 2 32 Tomas Satoransky PG 20 Coosur Real Betis (Sp)

2011 1 6 Jan Vesely PF 21 KK Partizan

2011 1 18 Chris Singleton FC 21 Florida State

2011 2 34 Shelvin Mack G 21 Butler

2010 1 1 John Wall PG 19 Kentucky

2010 1 30 Lazar Hayward F 23 Marquette

2010 2 35 Nemaja Bjelica PF 22 KK Crvena Zvezda

2009 2 32 Jermaine Taylor G 22 UCF

2008 1 18 JaVale McGee C 20 Nevada

2008 2 47 Henry Walker GF 20 Kansas State

2007 1 16 Nick Young SG 22 USC

2007 2 47 Dominic McGuire F 21 Fresno State

2006 1 18 Oliksiy Pecherov C 20 Paris Basket Racing

2006 2 48 Vladimir Veremeeko PF 21 Dynamo St Petersburg

2005 2 49 Andray Blatche PF 18 South Kent School

2004 1 5 Devin Harris G 21 Wisconsin

2004 2 32 Peter John Ramos C 19 Criollos de Caguas

2003 1 10 Jarvis Hayes SF 21 Georgia

2003 2 38 Steve Blake G 23 Maryland

2002 1 11 Jared Jeffries PF 20 Indiana

2002 1 17 Juan Dixon G 23 Maryland

2002 2 38 Rod Grizzard G 22 Alabama

2002 2 39 Juan Carlos Navarro SG 22 Barca (Spain)

2001 1 1 Kwame Brown C 19 Glynn Academy

2000 2 35 Mike Smith F 24 Louisiana-Monroe

Washington Wizards Draft Picks FAQs

How many picks did the Washington Wizards make in the 2023 NBA Draft?

The Washington Wizards made three picks on June 22nd, 2023. They selected Jarace Walker, Tristan Vukcevic, and Trayce Jackson-Davis.

Which player was the Washington Wizards Second Pick in 2011?

The Washington Wizards had three picks in 2011. Their first was the sixth overall pick, with which they selected Serbian player Jan Vesely from KK Partizan. With their second they selected Chris Singleton as the 18th overall pick from Florida State and they also had a second-round pick, which they used to select Shelvin Mack from Butler with the 34th overall pick.

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