NBA Preview - Washington Wizards
The past several years have been miserable for the Washington Wizards. They have had to deal with the downfall of Gilbert Arenas and saw no improvement after adding franchise PG John Wall. Wall is a spectacular talent, but when there is not a single decent player surrounding him – you’re going to have some issues. They have finished last in the Southeast Division three of the past four years. Luckily for them, the Charlotte Bobcats have dropped to a historically bad level of play and truth be told, the Wizards are close to becoming a respected team in the league.
John Wall has become one of the most explosive players in the NBA. He put on a heck of a show during last year’s All-Star weekend as it was a bit of a coming out party for him. He’s a guy who plays for the Wizards – they haven’t been relevant since Gilbert Arenas was keeping guns in the locker room. 46 losses last year in a shortened season, 59, 56 and 63 more losses the past few years equate to a whole lot of losing for a young player. Being drafted in 2010, all John Wall knows in the NBA is losing with an inferior team. He may finally have a little bit of talent around him and now it's up to him to develop a trait that all good point guards have – the ability to make those around him better.
The player I'm most high on, besides John Wall, is big man Kevin Seraphin. He had a less than impressive rookie year, only averaging 2.7 PPG and 2.6 RPG after being selected 17th overall. The numbers aren't eye-popping, but last season saw a nice progression. He bumped his per game averages and percentages across the board. 7.9 PPG, 4.9 RPG and doubling his blocks from .5 a game to 1.3. He was able to raise his FG% up over .50% and doubled his minutes per game. He'll have to become a more viable rebounder to truly take that next step as a PF/C hybrid, but the future is bright for Seraphin.
With the third overall pick in last summer’s draft, the Wizards selected Bradley Beal out of Florida. This was a spectacular pick for the Wizards because it meant they got Jordan Crawford out of their starting lineup. Crawford is a ball hog and will look to jack up a shot any time he has his hands on the rock. A young team needs discipline and their priority should be getting the ball in the hands of the playmaking PG. Beal is a more composed and all-around better SG than Crawford and will certainly be in the Rookie of the Year discussion. Being drafted third overall means a lot of pressure for Beal to come out and perform right away. Yes, there’s plenty of work to be done as a whole for the Wizards, but fans will be expecting to see Beal play at a moderately high level right away.
Washington has done a surprisingly decent job at improving their roster through trades. We have the epitome of addition by subtraction here. They were a part of a three team trade during the season in March and were able to bring in Nene from the Denver Nuggets. They gave up their young C JaVale McGee who may end up having a good career, but it was more than obvious that his head was not on straight in D.C. Nene is a much more reliable and consistent option for this young team desperately needing a little veteran locker room presence. During the summer, the Wizards rid themselves of Rashard Lewis and picked up Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza in the process. Both guys, you could say, have had disappointing NBA careers - neither one has reached the level of play they once showed promise of. Okafor provides depth along with Nene and Seraphin and Ariza is just another offensive weapon running the floor with John Wall. He's still incredibly gifted in terms of athleticism.
Nobody expects anything out of the Washington Wizards. No pressure on a young team means they can go out on the court every night and just play. There won’t be an immense amount of booing and the media won’t be breathing down their necks. A flash of improvement will happen and it will be received with plenty of approval. They have John Wall as a potential All-Star and the real growing pains begin now.
Season Outlook: The Wizards still finish well below .500 but a noticeable improvement occurs, propelling them to the upper half of the non-playoff teams in the East.
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