The Washington Wizards have some major problems, a good bit off the court and some on the court. Some was self-inflicted, some was just wither bad timing or bad choices.
The team begins and ends with John Wall, I’m not as high on him as others, but you can’t win in the NBA without a top 6 PG- unless you have Kobe or LeBron, and those two are not about to go to Washington, unless its they want to repeat that part of Jordan career as well.
I’m not going to beat my JW drum again, having done so here, I will say that his backup, Eric Maynor, is a dropoff by any estimation, but isn’t going to get you killed, but unlike Wall, he’s not going to win you many games either.
Wall’s partner is where the trouble starts, Bradley Beal was the number 3 overall pick, and did come on strong later in the season, but the problem is, he should be averaging a lot more than 14 points a game, and a stress fracture in the leg worries me if I’m a Wizard fan. This is not exactly Phoenix when it comes to patching up players. Beal shot 38% from long range, and is going to start climbing the Wizard Franchise history rankings quickly, but has to work on a mid-range shot to make sure Nene and Okafor have space to play, and Wall have a dish partner. The problem, however is he is only 6’3, so we have another tiny backcourt. Again, its a small problem, but a flaw none-the-less.
Garrett Temple resigned and at 6-6, would solve the size problem, but he’s not even close to being as talented as Beal, but he works hard and is worthy of a roster spot.
Moving up a spot, Small Forward is a mess. I can see Wittman going with a hot hand rotation here, but this is a GIANT hole for this team.
Otto Porter is already hurt, but before that wasn’t exactly lighting up the floor. He might not make it back until the holidays, and even then is going to be eased in.
Martell Webster is the incumbent starter, but lets just say no one thinks thats a permanent solution. If Beal keeps jacking up 3s, Websters 42% will be great as a trade chip, as I’m not sure having them both out there is a long-term solution.
Trevor Ariza is still out here, earning that fat contract on a daily basis. He got hit by the injury bug HARD last year, but is on a contract year, so he could do some damage with the minutes he gets.
Last on the spot is Glen Rice Jr, who is developing nicely, and could find himself some serious minutes if a trade happens, I’m not sure he’s a starter, but he could easily take Ariza’s spot next year without much pain for the front office.
Power Forward is where the talent level jumps, and might be the strongest on the team, and if the injury bug stays away, could be really, really good, if overpaid.
We start with Nene, who averaged a 13/7, but adds a level of defense that not many can touch, and should even be better.
Okafor should be his backup- but he keeps getting pushed to center, so we will come back to him.
Trevor Booker is the next man off the bench, and another high-effort guy, evidenced by going for a 5/5 every night, with only 18 minutes to do so. If he can (say it with me now) stay healthy, he could make Nene’s job a lot easier and lead a second unit and make life hard for the Wizard front office when his contract expires next summer.
Jan Vesley is a bust, no doubt about it, doing half of what Booker is doing, and Chris Singleton won’t be getting splinters very long either.
Now back to Okafor, who still is being shoved to playing Center, he’s used to it, but at least he’s out of Charlotte. He’s a good post player, and when paired with Nene, can be very effective, but when counted on being the MAN around the rim, you have problems. Oak did put up a 10/9 on a daily basis, a number that has to get better, and I think it can.
Kevin Seraphin is hoping to take some minutes, as he’s better offensively than Okafor, but not nearly as good as him on the other end of the floor, and with the size in the backcourt, thats a problem. If he could pass, he’d be a starter, but he’s more Yinka Dare than Wes Unseld in Washington history.
The Wizards have a lot of questions facing them this season. and next season should be fun, when Ariza comes off the books, so they have a chunk of money to throw at a base-level all-star. I would have loved to see them wait on Webster for one more year, and throwing his cap number and Ariza’s at Pekovic. Maybe even moving Oakfor to Minny to make the deal easier this year. A Front line with Nene and Pekovic might have been something, and with Booker and Oak coming off the bench if it was a clear signing?
EJ with the 2nd Opinion:
If the Eastern Conference’s top 5 teams are Brooklyn, Chicago, Indiana, Miami, and New York (in alphabetical order, not in predicted order of finish) then there are only 3 more slots available for the playoffs. Can the Wizards fill that slot? I’m not so sure. John Wall got paid. 5 years $80 million is a lot of money for a player that’s not even in the top 10 at his position. I get why the Wizards did it because he is their franchise player, but he has to step his game up to match that contract. Can he do it?
To start he’ll need Bradley Beal to play a hell of a lot better in his 2nd season, and as David said earlier a small forward must emerge. I think we’ll see Otto Porter, the rookie out of Georgetown stake his claim to the spot. Otto played horribly in the preseason, but I’m going to attribute that to performance jitters. The front court of Nene and Okafor is solid but must stay injury free.
So how do they finish? I like Atlanta. I like Cleveland, and I like Detroit. Those are 3 teams right there. So I think the Wizards fight for a playoff spot but ultimately miss out because they lack depth, and lack the proven playmakers needed to be a playoff team.
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