The Washington Wizards will likely have 3 new starters, come season tip-off (and a 4th who was a last-minute trade in the previous season). The Wizards had more than their share of locker room drama in recent years and there's been, if not a clean sweep, a pretty noticeable turnover. What stands now is a fairly young team. No player is 30+. They look to be improved, too.
The entire starting frontcourt is new. It may be a little superfluous to assign the center and power forward labels to Nene and Emeka Okafor. It's better to think of them as offense and defense. Nene will score at the rim in more of a traditional center manner on offense and shoot a very high percentage. Okafor will defend the rim, block more shots and get more rebounds. An offensive specialist and a defensive specialist. Neither one is very good at making their free throws, however.
I've always thought Okafor was more of a natural power forward, cursed into playing out of position at center because of his defensive capabilities. (See: Thomas, Kurt) His offensive game might improve a little if he ends up with a power forward defending him every now and again.
Trevor Ariza, the third front court addition, is a defensive ace that just can't quite seem to get his offensive potential realized. When he was a rookie with the Knicks, he was a penetrator lacking a jump shot. By the time he got to the Lakers, he was reborn as a 3-point spot up specialist. He hasn't really been able to mix the two styles successfully, thus far. He's still an upgrade, just for his defense, but we'll have to see where his streaky offense lands with this system.
Still, that's not a bad front court.
What's the rotation likely look like? (For the sake of argument, we'll just call Okafor the center and Nene the power forward, since the Wizards only list Okafor as a center on their website. )
C: Emeka Okafor > Kevin Seraphin
PF: Nene > Trevor Booker
SF: Trevor Ariza > Jan Vesely > Martel Webster > Cartier Martin > Chris Singleton
SG: Bradley Beal > Jordan Crawford > Martel Webster > Cartier Martin
PG: John Wall > A.J. Price > Shelvin Mack
The Wizards have a couple slots open and could definitely use an extra big man. I understand Earl Barron and Shavlik Randolph will be coming to Wizards camp, so they could fit that bill.
The big X-factor for the Wizards looks to be Bradley Beal. Beal is very well regarded, but we're still talking about a 19-year old rookie. If he's in the rookie of the year conversation, as expected, this team will win a few games. If not, Jordan Crawford could still start.
The Wizards have primary backups that all had flashes of promise last year in Seraphin, Booker, Vesely and Crawford. It isn't entirely clear where Martel Webster fits into the rotation, but that will be settled in the pre-season.
Can the Wizards make it to the playoffs this year? Yes, they have a legit shot at the 8 seed. Maybe the 7th. They should be a good defensive team and likely among the team leaders in steals. (Wall + Ariza) The question is whether they have enough scoring.
Regardless, this is the best the Wizards have looked on paper since the Arenas hurt his knee. We'll have to see how the team chemistry develops.
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