Wizards Lose Star Player To COVID Protocols

NBA Insider Shams Charania reports that the Washington Wizards will be without their best player for Tuesday night's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The 28-year-old shooting guard is having a career year for points, assists, and rebounds, averaging totals of 24, 6.4, and 4.7 per game. Beal has averaged roughly 36 minutes and 20 field goal attempts per game for the Wizards for the past three seasons, and as the only player on the team with a max contract as well, it's clear he's their franchise cornerstone.

What remains unclear is how the Wizards will remain in the fight for the play-in tournament without their best player. They currently sit 9th in the Eastern Conference with a record of 20 wins and 20 losses. 

It's not as though they were lighting the league on fire even with "Big Panda", and complimentary stars like Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell will likely have to figure out which of them is going to be the #1 option going forward.

Washington has been rumored to be among the most likely landing spots for Detroit Pistons forward Jerami Grant, who has carried over his strong play from last season and currently averages 20 points per game. 

With respect to Grant, he was likely targeted to compliment Beal and the rest of the roster, not lead the team into the playoffs. By the time Beal returns, they could drop three games in the next five days and have an even steeper hill to climb in pursuit of their playoff aspirations.

Getting Thomas Bryant back will ease some of the pain, and a bevy of depth signings such as Greg Monroe, Jaime Echenique, and Alize Johnson will keep games from being postponed but don't seem to be impact players going forward.

Optimistically, the Wizards win the games that Beal is absent for and he makes a hasty return and continues his strong play. They get the guys they want in the trade market, get healthy, and become a darkhorse contender in the playoffs. 

For a franchise that hasn't reached a Conference Finals since the 1978-79 season, where they went on to beat the Seattle Supersonics to clinch the Larry O'Brien trophy, they should be spared the details of a worst-case scenario.

Photo Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports