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Season Preview: Washington Wizards

September 23, 2012
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It’s now or never for John Wall.

In: rookie Bradley Beal…Trevor Ariza, Emeka Okafor, A.J. Price, Martell Webster, Jannero Pargo…Earl Barron, Brian Cook

Out: Rashard Lewis (MIA), Andray Blatche (BKN), Mo Evans, James Singleton, Morris Almond (Serbia)

Lineup:

PG John Wall          Shelvin Mack, A.J. Price, Jannero Pargo

SG Bradley Beal      Jordan Crawford, Cartier Martin

SF Trevor Ariza       Chris Singleton, Martell Webster

PF Emeka Okafor    Jan Vesely, Trevor Booker, Brian Cook

C  Nene                      Kevin Seraphin, Earl Barron

Offseason Recap: Washington technically started their offseason last February, when they shipped out knuckleheads McGee & Young and added center Nene at the deadline. It was the first step towards normalcy on the court and in the locker room. The Wizards then didn’t even wait for the Miami Heat championship confetti to settle in late June before trading Rashard Lewis (and his max contract) for the starting forward combo of Ariza & Okafor.

The team’s drafting of Florida SG Bradley Beal with the 3rd pick in the draft surprised few ’experts’ that night. He’s the perfect blend of Derrick Rose and Ray Allen (in both game and, oddly, appearance). Beal is the team’s future at shooting guard and will help space the floor for Wall as well as the new ‘bigs’.

As much player movement as the Wizards had this summer, it’s their growth from within that I think will be the most important factor going forward. I look for a much more mature John Wall in addition to a bigger, stronger Jan Vesely out there in 2012-13. Center Kevin Seraphin, too, will be a much better player after his Olympic experience in London. Unfortunately, Nene’s summer commitment has prolonged his recovery from plantar fasciitis.

I also think that the late-summer additions of Martell Webster and A.J. Price will pay dividends. Webster is an underrated shooter who just hasn’t been able to stay healthy while Price has a lot to prove after getting no run in Indiana. These two were great ’gets’ by the front office.

Sadly, on the eve of training camp, it was announced that John Wall will miss two months. The team and its fans will have to wait till December before seeing what this squad can really do. Center Nene, too, is dealing with plantar fasciitis. Will it linger with him all year?

Strengths: General Manager Ernie Grunfeld has done a masterful job in Washington changing the culture. All the goofballs are gone in D.C. ….JaVale McGee and Nick Young have been traded, Andray Blatche mercifully waived. Those guys all have bright futures, but as a group were holding down the Wizards with their immaturity. John Wall is now surrounded by professionals in the form of a veteran frontline: Nene, Emeka Okafor, and Trevor Ariza. This will improve consistency and make everyone in that locker room more accountable. Also, with Beal now joining Wall, the Wizards have as talented a backcourt going forward as anyone. The NBA game is no longer one decided in the trenches, but with versatile talent on the perimeter. One day, the Wiz could be featuring their own lay-up line every night from the 1 & 2 position.

Weaknesses: Despite cleaning out the garbage the past 6 months, remnants of the losing culture in Washington may still be lingering. Hey, old habits die hard. Wall, Crawford, Vesely, Seraphin, & Singleton hopefully will un-teach themselves some of the bad habits that were once alloweded in the nation’s capitol.

Prediction: The injury to John Wall definitely puts this team behind the eight ball. I still have faith that this group will overachieve this season.

You heard it here first…..the Washington Wizards will make the 2013 NBA Playoffs. I see them getting in at No. 8 and giving the Miami Heat all they can handle in a surprising 7-game series.

When I look at Wall, I see the explosiveness of a Derrick Rose mixed with the wiry craftiness around the rim of a Dwyane Wade or Tyreke Evans. The way he prefers to use his left hand at the rim is uncanny and usually seen in ‘bigmen’, not point guards. The tools are all there…..the task is to now blend them into a consistent floor general that makes his teammates better and not just himself. If you look at recent history, the 3rd season is the breakout campaign for a star point guard. It’s when we find out if he’ll be a superstar with championship aims or just a place-filler in somebody’s lineup. Make no doubt about it…..it’s now or never for John Wall.

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One Response to Season Preview: Washington Wizards

  1. Sonny on December 16, 2012 at 7:19 am

    Call me wind beucase I am absolutely blown away.

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