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NBA Season Preview: Washington Wizards

Dec 15, 2011, 1:30 AM EDT

walljohn_davidliamkyle_getty Getty Images

Last season: 23-59, the fourth lowest win total in the entire league.

Head Coach: Flip Saunders, who may or may not be the best fit for this talented but undisciplined group of young players.

Key Departures: None yet, although Nick Young, who improved offensively last season, is a restricted free agent. Michael Lee of the Washington Post does a nice job breaking down Young’s status in limbo as he waits for some of the other free agent dominoes around the league to fall into place.

Key Additions: The biggest addition could be by someone already on the roster. By all accounts of what we saw during those pickup and charity games over the summer, John Wall is poised to have a breakout season. Injuries limited him last year, but he seems to be 100 percent healthy and as explosive as ever.
Best case scenario: Wall makes the leap, the team stays healthy, Saunders gets some control over the young goofballs on the team (looking at you, JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche), and Young re-signs. A lot has to happen, but if things fall into place, the Wizards, like most of last year’s bottom-feeders in the East, could have a shot at the postseason.

For that to happen: Flip Saunders has to get some control over his young players, and get his guys to buy in to a team concept of playing smart basketball on both ends of the floor. You may remember McGee throwing the entire players’ union under the bus during the lockout, saying on camera and in front of rolling tape recorders that some guys were “ready to fold.” That obviously has nothing to do with how he plays the game, but it speaks to his maturity level, which will need to increase.

If you need on-the-court evidence, look no further than this free throw line dunk attempt in garbage time, with his team trailing by 25 points — which he airballed, by the way.

Andray Blatche may not intentionally be as unaware as his teammate, but his lack of focus showed more than once last season, when he airballed wide open attempts at the rim. This is not a talent issue, it’s one of focus, and that will be the Wizards’ biggest challenge under Saunders this season.

More likely the Wizards will: Improve marginally, but only due to the consistent and improved play from Wall that everyone expects to see.

Prediction: 24-42, out of the playoffs. There’s some wiggle room here, as we wait to see how the Nick Young situation — whether or not he leaves and whether or not the team replaces him, and with whom — shakes itself out.

  1. trbowman - Dec 16, 2011 at 1:32 AM

    For a crappy team, they’re pretty fun to watch. Having a dude like Steve Buckhantz do games helps

    As an X fan and Wiz fan, I’m delighted to have J-Craw. Dude’s a beast.

    I just hope they get rid of Blatche via trade already.

  2. trbowman - Dec 16, 2011 at 1:35 AM

    Haha, I was actually at the Bulls game when Blatche missed that dunk. The boos were RAINING down at the phonebooth.

    I can tell ya he ain’t a fan favorite….that’s for sure.

  3. trbowman - Dec 16, 2011 at 1:45 AM

  4. KOBEshigawa - Oct 15, 2012 at 7:16 PM

    Washington did everything it needed to do in the offseason – the final cleansing of an extremely defective Wiz team. I don’t think any DC fan expect the team to make it to the postseason this year (at least not any rational fan), but as long as John Wall can come back from injury and take a step forward (instead of remaining stagnant like he has in his first two season) and Beal can show he’s not a bust, it’s a pretty successful season from the Wiz.

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