NBA 2013-14 Season Preview: Washington Wizards

NOTE: Wizards have traded Emeka Okafor and a first round pick to Phoenix for Marcin Gortat and two players they will waive.

Over the summer, new Wizard member Al Harrington guaranteed a playoff berth for Washington in the 2013-2014 season.  Wait a second…Al Harrington?  Where’s he been?  And what makes him think this team has such a good chance to reach the playoffs?  John Wall is going into his fourth year in the league and a playoff birth would be a welcoming sign for him and the nation’s capital.  Let’s take a look at this season’s Washington Wizards:

Photo courtesy of washingtonpost.com

Guards (B): John Wall, Bradley Beal, Eric Maynor, Martell Webster, Garrett Temple

John Wall did a very good job managing the floor for Washington in his long-awaited return last season.  Had he been healthy, Washington could have potentially been in the playoff hunt.  That is an encouraging sign for the team to move forward with and believe they actually are playoff material.  Beal is rapidly developing into a very good complementary guard.  He has a very pure mid-range as well as three-point stroke and he’s rarely caught trying to force the action.  Maynor and Webster should be perfect fits as backups to Wall and Beal.

Forwards (C): Trevor Ariza, Trevor Booker, Otto Porter, Al Harrington, Chris Singleton

The Wizards remain pretty unstable at the forward positions.  Wall and Beal are going to have to be a great backcourt to cut some slack for the subpar forwards.  Ariza is a decent player, but he’s no starter.  Ariza loves to fire up contested shots and can get on a roll at times.  The two forwards most worth mentioning are Booker and Porter.  Porter is a young, Tayshaun Prince-like player who can contribute in many different areas.  He could remain on the bench in his rookie season unless he proves he’s ready to be a starter.  Booker isn’t exactly your ideal starting power forward, either.  He works hard and defends pretty well for an undersized small forward, but the starting talent isn’t there.

Centers (B-): Nene Hilario, Kevin Seraphin, Jan Vesely, Emeka Okafor (IR)

Nene Hilario staying healthy would solve a lot of issues, especially since Okafor may be sidelined a while with neck troubles.  Wall and Nene showed tremendous chemistry together from the moment they teamed up.  Their pick-and-roll or pick-and-pop remains a viable threat to defenses.  Hilario is definitely showing some signs of aging, though, as he has already hit his peak.  Seraphin is a guy to keep an eye out on.  He’s pretty athletic and has a lot of potential to be a good 6th or 7th man in this league.

Photo courtesy of washingtonpost.com

Defense (B+): The Wiz were defensively sound, to say the least, last year.  They ranked fifth in defensive efficiency.  Based on what I’ve seen, Wall does a pretty good job controlling the tempo of the game and that helps their defense.  They play with a lot of energy and sprint back on defense immediately after they lose possession.  Sometimes defense is a mental thing and not all about who has the best defensive skill-set.  The Wiz must continue to consistently get defensive stops.

Shooting (C): Ever since trading away Gilbert Arenas, shooting has been a big issue for this Wizard squad.  Shooting is clearly not John Wall’s strong suit, although he is showing constant improvement in his jumper.  Westbrook didn’t come into the league as a great shooter and now his pull-up, mid-range J can be deadly.  Wall just needs to shoot the ball with confidence.  Being a distributor is very important for Wall as he is great at attracting the defense and finding open shooters.  Bradley Beal and Martell Webster are the two three-point gunners on this team.

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Experience (C+): The Wizards blew it all up a few years ago and are calmly creeping their way back up the ladder.  I am confident this organization is headed in the right direction.  Another smart draft pick and trade to acquire a quality big man would certainly be helpful.

Standing – 8th East: Washington will capture the last spot in the playoffs with the addition of big man Marcin Gortat

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