Season Preview: Washington Wizards

As a site, we ranked all the NBA teams from worst to best for our release of season previews. Day eighteen’s release of a season preview ends up being the Washington Wizards. I will provide a recap of their past season, an offseason recap, and then finally the season preview all of us fans are eager for.

Washington Wizards:

Last Season’s Record: 46-36

Playoff Status: Lost 4-2 in the Conference Semifinals to the Atlanta Hawks

The 2014-2015 season was not what was expected from Washington. Heading into the year most people had them pegged as a top three team in the Eastern Conference. Bradley Beal missed almost twenty games due to injury at the beginning of the season, and his scoring abilities were truly missed. Without Beal, Washington started off sluggish, but once he returned to the line-up and found his groove, so did Washington. Heading into the playoffs, Washington was not going to be an easy out, as Toronto found out. After annihilating Toronto, Washington headed into their second round match-up with Atlanta with a lot of confidence. This series was extremely competitive, and due to Paul Pierce not being able to hit another game winner on time, Washington was out of the postseason. Washington had a few holes they needed to fill, and now we will look at how they went about doing this.

The 2015 NBA draft was a huge success for the Washington Wizards. Washington was able to trade their pick with Atlanta, and select Kelly Oubre Jr. Oubre is going to need some development, but his ability to score is unteachable. Washington needed to make this pick, as they felt Paul Pierce was going to leave them in free agency. The good thing for Washington is the development of Otto Porter, which will now allow for him to start, and have Oubre as his primary back-up. Washington also selected Aaron White, a power forward from Iowa in the second round, but he is no longer with the team. White now plays for the Telekom Baskets Bonn in Germany. Although White did not pan out in the crowded frontcourt of Washington, the addition of Oubre will greatly help their bench offense, and hopefully give them another scorer for the future, which will help make this a potentially successful draft for Washington.

Heading into the offseason, Washington’s biggest priority was Paul Pierce. We all knew Pierce wanted to play under Doc Rivers again, but a majority of Wizard fans believed he would stay. Pierce ended up opting out of his deal, and joining the Los Angeles Clippers. Now with Pierce out of the way, Washington focused on bringing in depth to its roster. Jared Dudley was acquired via trade from the Milwaukee Bucks. Dudley will likely play a majority of his minutes at the small forward position, but they will be able to utilize him as a stretch four as well. It is hard to sign whether or not he will start, due to the development of Porter, but if I am Washington, I want Dudley manning the second unit with his leadership and skills. Washington also added some depth to their back court in the additions of Ish Smith, Alan Anderson, and Gary Neal. Gary Neal will likely have the biggest impact, due to his experience and shooting ability, but Smith and Anderson will also help stretch the floor for Washington, who now have a plethora of shooters coming off the bench. Washington may not have added any defined superstar this offseason, but they made their team more competitive, and kept open their cap space in their pursuit of Kevin Durant next summer. Both of these things lead for Washington to have a very good, under the radar offseason.

As with last season, Washington is favored to be a top team in the Eastern Conference this upcoming season. The thing that is holding Washington back from being higher on our rankings is their front court. We all know what the back court of Wall and Beal are capable of, but Nene and Gortat will need to play at extremely high levels for the entire season for Washington to be a top four seed in the East. We all know a healthy, energized Nene is one of the most dominant post players, and if he can stay healthy and motivated, Washington will be a sure lock for a top four seed in the East. The back-ups at the front court of Kris Humphries, Drew Gooden, and DeJuan Blair will need to be physically, healthy, and stretch the floor for the bench to stay productive. There is not much to stay about Wall and Beal as both know their defined roles, and will perform at high levels. Beal is a hot preseason candidate for most improved player, and with his scoring ability and contention on a championship team, Beal does have a great shot at winning this award. Porter, Dudley, and Oubre will man a rotation at the small forward position, with the hot hand for the week likely getting the starts. The bench, as stated before is full of shooters now. Anderson, Neal, Smith, Dudley, Oubre, Webster, and Sessions have the ability to step-in and light up the perimeter for Washington. Even if a championship is not won this year, Washington has set themselves up beautiful for landing Kevin Durant next offseason, which would help make them legitimate contenders for the next 4-5 years. With this retooled bench, and healthy starting five, Washington will be a contender this upcoming season in the Eastern Conference, as well as for a championship.

By: Mac Crowe, @Mac_Truck17

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