If you are a Wizards fan then the 2011-12 season was certainly a season to forget. The team started 2-15 under head coach Flip Saunders and that’s when management decided it was time to part ways with the veteran head man. He was soon replaced by Randy Wittman, a man who people may know from his coaching days in Minnesota. Many say Wittman is the main reason for Kevin Garnett’s success at the NBA level, and that it was under his tutelage that KG ultimately became the megastar that he is today.
The Wizards had a multitude of underachievers last year led by former number 1 overall pick John Wall, who many thought would take the next step in becoming one of the NBA’s elite point guards. Sadly he ended up regressing quite a bit. In my opinion Wall has all the tools to become an elite PG at the NBA level. He is lightning quick and can get to the basket with the greatest of ease along with being a great finisher around the rim, he also has a tremendous nose for the ball, as he seems to always be in passing lanes causing him to create turnovers and get out in transition which is his forte. The only knocks on him is that he plays out of control on occasion and settles for jump shots a little too much, if he could learn to continue attacking the rim and stop settling for jumpers the sky’s the limit for him.
Now, Wall wasn’t the only disappointment for Washington last season, 7 footer Javale Mcgee, who was also supposed to take the next step forward in his 4th NBA campaign turned in an abysmal season. Constantly getting into foul trouble, arguing with his coach, and creating tension in the locker room all led to his eventual trade in mid March. Mcgee is a freakish athlete with great leaping ability and extremely long arms that could easily be an elite center in the NBA, but he needs to grow up and stay out of foul trouble. Luckily for Wizard’s fans he’ll have to figure it out in Denver.
If you combine all these issues with the fact that the Wizards were 24th in the league in defensive efficiency last year, than clearly you’re in for a losing season, but then again that was all last year, and the new season is quickly approaching.
Season Outlook: The Wizards made some moves in the off-season in an attempt to show their fans that they’re serious about winning. They picked up wing man and former NBA Champion Trevor Ariza along with NBA veteran and defensive specialist Emeka Okafor from the New Orleans Hornets via trade. Add them to a roster that already has John Wall and newly acquired Nene whom they got in the Javale Mcgee trade and you’re talking about a very formidable roster. They then spent their lottery pick on rookie phenom Bradley Beal from the University of Florida. Beal is a gifted shooter with unlimited range to go along with a silky smooth release. At 6-4 he’s a little undersized to play the 2 at the NBA level, but what he lacks in size he makes up for in shooting ability and basketball IQ. He’s being compared to Ray Allen, and while that may be a bit of a reach, there is no doubt in my mind that Beal will have a long prosperous career in the NBA. Now having said all of that the Wizards will be forced to be without John Wall for the first month of the season, as he will be nursing a knee injury, but he should come back strong in early December.
Prediction: If everyone stays healthy (Big If) then the Wizards will make significant strides this season. We will have to see how it plays out for sure, but I see the Wizards going 33-49 which would give them 13 more wins than last season. I don’t believe they are quite ready for the playoffs just yet, but in a year or two it is certainly a possibility
Fantasy Spin: Once John Wall gets back from his injury he could be an intriguing player to watch, but knee injuries scares me, and for someone who relies on his quickness I would stay away. Another injury risk is Nene, he already has foot problems and the season hasn’t started yet, if he ever does get healthy he’s a solid big man to target in middle to later rounds. He is incredibly efficient and will help with field goal percentage and rebounding. Brad Beal is a guy to watch for me, if Wall is out for longer than expected then he should see a lot of minutes, regardless he should be a solid source of 3 pointers off the bench.
Strong Buys: None
Solid Buys: Nene (if healthy) John Wall (again if healthy) Bradley Beal (love him)
Fliers: Jordan Crawford, AJ Price (backup pg to wall)
Cat Stuffers: Kevin Seraphin (blocks)