Washington Wizards Season Preview: Almost Good

Team Capsule:

In the post-Arenas era, the Wizards have become sort of a laughing stock to fans of other teams (and probably players, as well.) Most of the season last year, people from across the nation would tune in to watch the Wizards play. It wasn’t for any sorts of good reasons though, as they had 3 of the most entertaining boneheads in the NBA on the same team: Javale McGee, Andray Blatche, and Nick Young. After trading McGee and Young, and benching Blatche for “conditioning problems”, the Wizards looked semi-respectable, winning their last 6 games of the season, 2 of which were against the Heat, and one of the games was in Chicago. Though, to be fair, some teams were probably coasting to end the season. Most of the season was spent hoping to win the lottery and draft Anthony Davis. Alas, we are left without Anthony Davis, though Bradley Beal seems to be a suitable cosolation. The Wizards made a big trade in the off-season, shipping Rashard Lewis and his hefty contract off to New Orleans, to aquire defensive stalwart Emeka Okafor, and used-to-be-competent-but-now-hes-pretty-bad Trevor Ariza.

Biggest Strength:

The Wizards glaring strength will be their transition offense. They were amongst the best in the league last season in fast-break points. John Wall thrives in full-court offense, Beal can finish, Ariza can finish, and Nene has proved he is more than respectable in an uptempo offense, and throws some pretty solid outlet passes, Crawford is a pretty good scorer on the break, and Vesely and Booker will show us some high-light finishes off the bench. I also think the Wizards will play some solid defense this season. Wall and Beal are solid perimeter defenders, and Okafor can hold down the block just fine. While they won’t be amongst the best as a defensive team, they should be much improved here.

Biggest Weakness:

The Wizards will be terrible in any sort of half-court sets. Last season, nobody could hit a perimeter shot, no one set screens, and when we’d feed it inside, we had players like McGee and Blatche to assure that it would never come back out. While Beal and Webster are big additions when it comes to perimeter scoring, they will still struggle in this aspect. Nene is a great offensive player, but a lot of the Wizards success relies on his ability to stay healthy, and all signs are pointing to him not getting away from injuries.

Player to Watch: John Wall

While I’d like to say it’s Bradley Beal, he probably won’t have too much impact on the team as a 19/20 year old. John Wall is often criticized for what he can’t do more than he’s applauded for what he can do, but I can see why. He is an absolutely lousy shooter, though he did show some flashes of improvement. This seems to be, for some, a make-or-break season for Wall. This is the season where he needs to show whether or not he can be a legit superstar. I know he’s supposed to be out for 8 weeks, which is a disappointment, but I expect him to come back, show some slight improvement as a mid to long range shooter, and hopefully the team around him will allow people to see what he’s been missing. The reason Rubio and Irving have been so effective are the screen-setters and shooters surrounding them. Wall has had nothing of the sort his first few years in the league, but things are looking up, as far as I’m concerned.

2011-12 Record: 20-46

Coach: Randy Wittman (first year as an NBA head coach, after re-signing after an interim-basis stint last season)

Key Additions: Bradley Beal, Martell Webster, Emeka Okafor, AJ Price, Trevor Ariza.

Bradley Beal looks to be one of the best players in the rookie class. Two of their additions seem to be starters, and Price and Webster will play big roles off of the bench.

Key Subtractions: Andray Blatche, Rashard Lewis.

Two of my least favorite Wizards of all time. Lewis was a shell of his former self, with the second largest contract in the league, and losing Blatche is addition by subtraction. A huge offensive and defensive black hole, large contract, and locker room distraction.

Team Trajectory: Rising

It’s hard to get worse than what the Wizards were last season (unless you’re the Bobcats), and they made some offseason moves that could possibly move them up to be contending for an 8-seed by seasons end.

Projected Record: 36-46

While they’ll make it close, in the end, the Wizards will lose out on an 8 seed. The Heat, Pacers, Celtics, Hawks, Knicks, 76ers, Nets, Raptors, and Bucks will be better than the Wizards, and possibly the Cavs.

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About dactronic1
NBA fan, Wizards fan.

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