If you’re like me you’re ecstatic. After months of speculation and frustration the NBA season is only11 days away! And whether Chris Paul and Dwight Howard are playing for their current teams or another…gulp…large market team (David Stern is shaking his head right now) there are 28 other franchises trying to move on and compete in a increasingly competitive NBA.
One of those teams, an afterthought for most, is the Washington Wizards. A team that went 23-59 last season would normally have little to be excited about going into a lockout-shortened season. But when games start on Christmas day starved Wizards fans will finally get to see a fully healthy John Wall take the court.
Right now, with free agency and trading in full effect, it’s hard to forecast exactly what we’ll see from the Wizards, but the starting lineup will likely look something like this:
PG: John Wall (22 years old, 16 ppg, 8 ast. 4 rbs. last year) – The 1st overall pick in last years draft had an up-and-down rookie campaign. Battling through tendinitis in his knee for most of the season it was clear he wasn’t at full strength, but he still showed his amazing speed and athleticism in the open court. Questions remain about Walls’ jump shot and half-court game, but he’s one of the most promising young players in the NBA and the Wiz’s building block for the future.
Nick Young *RFA (26 years old, 17 ppg, 1 ast, 2 rbs)– Young had a breakout year for the Wiz last season. After the Gilbert Arenas trade and the subsequent minutes were split amongst the young Wizards, Young took advantage of his increased playing time. The problem with Young, for me (and others) is he’s simply only a scorer. When on the court he’ll be sure to get his shots but he does nothing to get his teammates involved and is dead weight on the defensive end. If Young returns and starts for the Wiz this season he’ll need to prove that he can be a complete player or he’ll be jacking up shots for another team sometime soon.
Rashard Lewis (32 years old, 11PPG, 5 Ast., 1 Rb.)–Rashard Lewis will make $21 million this season, John Wall will make $5 million; just let that sink in before I explain where Rashard fits with this team. Got it? OK…Rashard was awarded possibly the worst contract in NBA history by the Orlando Magic a few years back. The only way we got rid of Gilbert was to take back this terrible contract. Wiz GM Ernie Grunfeld has been adamant that he will not use the one-time amnesty clause to clear Rashards’ deal from the books…Why? I can’t tell you, but I digress…
If you look passed his contract Rashard is a solid spot up shooter, a long defender, a strong leader in the locker room, and a mismatch for most power forwards (if the Wiz play him at the 4 spot). Assuming he’s with the team this season and assuming he’s healthy he could have a good year. With Wall setting him up and the young players around him working to his strengths, Lewis actually fits with this team…if only we could forget the fact that he’s the NBA’s 2nd highest paid player.
Andray Blatche (25 years old, 16 ppg, 8 rbs, 2 ast)–If you’re a Wiz fan watching Andray play these last six years has been painful. He’s got the size and skill set you want in a power forward, he’s just immature and has a very low basketball I.Q. Looking at his numbers from last season it doesn’t look bad at all, but if you look closer he was one of the least effective players in the NBA per 40 minutes played. He and Nick Young are the wild cards that could put the Wiz in the race for the 8th or 7th seed this season; but it’s a long shot.
JaVale McGee (23 years old, 10 ppg, 8 rbs, 2 blocks)–JaVale is an enigma. He can swat shots, run the floor, and dunk from anywhere on the court; then he’ll turn around and commit four fouls in three minutes. He, like the other wild cards on the team, needs to improve vastly for the Wiz to be successful. He’s a long, lean center and struggles when isolated against stronger match ups. He has no post-up game and takes far too many jump shots. If he settles into his role as a defensive stopper and high-flying put-back guy on offense he’ll be with the Wiz for some time. If he continues to attempt sky hooks and 17-footers…bye-bye.
As you can see, the Wizards are young. John Wall is exciting as we’re sure to see this season, but everyone else around him is still finding their way as a player. If this turns out to be the opening day starting five it’s very hard to see this team competing for a playoff spot. I still think Rashard may be amnestied and Nick Young may be elsewhere when free agency is over.
Coach Flip Saunders has his hands full with these guys, and I haven’t even gotten to the bench yet!
About the Author
Written by Frank Sullivan
Frank is a graduate of Old Dominion University, sports fan, author, and founder of TheBloosh.com. He's been working with prosportsblogging.com since April 2011, and has covered the Chicago Bulls, Baltimore Ravens, Virginia Tech Hokies Football, and the Washington Wizards. Frank can be reached @franksullivan on twitter.