The Washington Wizards finished with 44 wins last year – their highest total in nearly 10 years. Due to high draft picks for the last four seasons, Washington has put together a young core that has lots of potential. Guys such as John Wall have turned out to be All-Star caliber players that are not only very skilled but also entertaining to watch.
Washington has also brought in some great veterans such as Marcin Gortat and Nene. Now, the Wizards bring in the most seasoned veteran of them all – Paul Pierce. While Pierce is certainly over the hump, he has lots of playoff experience (and an NBA Championship ring) which will prove to be invaluable as the season goes along.
While things are looking up for the Wizards, I want to make sure that I provide you with realistic expectations for next season. Here’s a breakdown of the Washington Wizards.
John Wall is entering his fifth season in the league and is emerging as a superstar. Wall was selected for the USA Team tryouts, getting cut in the last round of players. Wall was electric last year by averaging nearly 20 points and nine assists while also recording 1.8 steals per game. His improvements on offense also opened the floor for Bradley Beal due to penetrate-and-kick scenarios.
Beal, who is entering his third season, had a breakout year during his sophomore campaign. Averaging 17 points a game while also shooting over 40% from three means that Beal and Wall are one of the best guard combos in the league. And Beal continued to perform in the playoffs – showing that he has matured into a clutch player while still very young. This kid’s confidence is through the roof.
Down low, Washington has two bruisers in Gortat and Nene. Gortat is an old-school center, living in the lane, while Nene has some of the quickest feet for a guy his size.
The Wizards have brought in Dajuan Blair and Kris Humphries to prove the Wizards with some depth in the frontcourt. Both players should be able to contribute about 15 minutes a game. Add in Paul Pierce and you have a very respectable team that could make a playoff run.
One major problem, however, is having Randy Wittman running the show. Wittman has been criticized for his in-game adjustments as well as the way he runs his offense. One stat that many point to: the Wizards lost 12 games last year in which they had a double-digit lead. That’s not good – and a lot of the blame can be placed on Wittman’s shoulders.
Also, Wittman has forced some of the ballhandling duties onto Beal instead of letting Wall initiate the offensive sets. This has proved to be ineffective due to Beal’s value as a shooter.
The other issue with the Wizards is injuries. Paul Pierce is breaking down – he needs a rest every three or four games. And Nene is notorious for getting injured, missing 20+ games in each of his last three seasons.
Regardless, the Wizards have put together a very nice team – one that should finish anywhere from third to fifth in the conference. Who knows what the playoffs will hold?