I have wondered when the Washington Wizards will turn it around. It seems that this franchise hasn’t been able to catch a break since the “gun-incident” between Gilbert Arenas and Jarvis Crittenton. John Wall is out for next two months (eight weeks) with an injury, hurting the Wizards chances to get off to a good start.
I was excited to see the backcourt of Bradley Beal and Wall, but now I, along with millions of other basketball fans, will be forced to wait. Wall will miss, probably, a month of the season with a knee injury. That means Shelvin Mack will most likely start at the point until Wall is healthy enough to return. The Wizards drafted Beal with No. 3 pick in last June’s draft, hoping he can become a star for years to come.
I like the move the Wizards make to acquire Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor, adding depth in the frontcourt. They waived troubling-forward Andray Blatche this summer, an under-performing power forward who lost focus more times than he scored and rebounded, combined. They also didn’t keep Nick Young, a straight-scoring combo player, letting him walk as well. They still have shot-hogging guard Jordan Crawford, though. Crawford is a player who shoots a high-volume number of shots and makes a low-volume total (40% from the field last season).
Other than that, the roster is pretty bare. They have a lot of players who have been around the league. This team is full of youth (Steven Gray, Jan Vesely, Chris Singleton, Kevin Seraphin, and Trevor Booker) and below-average experienced players (Shavlik Randolph, Brian Cook, Martell Webster, and Earl Barron).
Surprised that I haven’t mentioned Nene? Well, I think Nene is a big piece in the Wizards puzzle. He needs to be healthy if the Wizards want to be successful. Personally, I think Nene is an overpaid center and has missed a lot of time during his career because of injury. I commend him for overcoming testicular cancer, but it seems that every year it’s either a foot, knee or back injury. His productivity will be needed until Wall returns.
Point guard(s) – John Wall: While Shelvin Mack will start the season at point guard; Wall is the main man on this team. It’s his team, but he needs to prove that it’s his team this season. I hope he spent a lot of time in gym this summer, working on his jumper, because he shot a whopping 7% from the three-point line. He has all the tools to become a dominant point guard: size, speed, skill and athleticism. Now he just needs to prove it.
Mack will back up Wall, once he returns.
Position Grade: B
Shooting guard(s) – Bradley Beal: Scouts have compared Beal as a cross between Ray Allen and Eric Gordon. He is an athletic, slashing two-guard who can also shoot the three, even though he didn’t shoot it too well in his only season at Florida. He is an excellent rebounder for his size (6.9) and a willing passer (2.2 assists per game). I don’t know how good of a defender Beal will be in his first season (I don’t think he will be that good), but he has the chance to become a solid defender in due time. Beal should see a lot of shot attempts in the first month of the season with Wall out.
Jordan Crawford will back up Beal.
Position Grade: C+
Small forward(s) – Trevor Ariza: I see Ariza being a defensive-stopper for this team, and that’s something the Wizards have lacked the past few seasons. Ariza is long and athletic, able to shoot three-pointers, but can also rebound and pass. He has become a pretty well-rounded player in his eight seasons in the NBA. He has championship experience, winning a title with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009. I expect Ariza to provide leadership for the young Wizards.
Chris Singleton and Cartier Martin will battle for back up minutes.
Position Grade: C+
Power forward(s) – Emeka Okafor: Okafor will give the Wizards a defensive presence in the post, unlike what they had when JaVale McGee was on the roster. McGee provided highlights, while Okafor provides consistent efforts and brings leadership. Even though he won’t bring much offense game to the table, Okafor can control the boards, at times. Another underrated quality about him is that he plays hard and smart, at the same time. That’s something, I can’t say, McGee did all the time.
Jan Vesely should see the bulk of the backup minutes.
Position Grade: B-
Center(s) – Nene: Nene and Okafor are pretty much replaceable at the power forward and center position, but I am going to give Nene the “nod” to start at center. Like I explained earlier, Nene needs to stay healthy this season. He is in the second year of a big four-year contract (making $13 million this season), so he will need to be productive. And for him to be productive, he needs to avoid nick-knack injuries. When healthy, he is a solid rebounder and scorer.
Position Grade: B-
Projected Starting Lineup
G: John Wall*
G: Bradley Beal
F: Trevor Ariza
F: Emeka Okafor
*Will miss the first month and change of the season.
Starting Lineup Grade: C+
G: Shelvin Mack
G: Jordan Crawford
F: Chris Singleton
F: Jan Vesely
Bench Grade: C
Coaching Grade: C (Randy Wittman)
While this team has more talent and smarter players than it had last season, I don’t think it will be enough to boost the Wizards into the playoffs.