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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

SDH's 2012/2013 NBA Worst to First Previews and Predictions: 19. Washington Wizards

Overall Win/Loss Record : 20-46 fourth place Southeast Division


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Projected 2012/2013 Finish

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Last season’s Team Statistics and League Rank
  • Points Scored: 93.6 (23rd)
  • Points Allowed: 98.4 (20th)
  • Team FG%: .441 (21st)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .435 (19th)
  • Rebounds per game: 41.7 (20th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 43.5 (24th)



Returning Individual Statistical Leaders
  • Scoring: John Wall (16.3)
  • Rebounds per game:  Nene (7.5)
  • Minutes per game: John Wall (36.2)
  • Assists per game: John Wall (8.0)
  • Steals per game:  John Wall (1.4)
  • Blocked Shots per game:  Kevin Seraphin (1.3)


Projected Starters Based on Last Season’s Performance, Veteran Seniority and Projected Impact


Key Reserves Based on Last Season’s Performances, Veteran Seniority and Potential Impact.
  1. Jordan Crawford (G)
  2. Jan Vessely (F)
  3. Kevin Seraphin (F/C)
  4. Trevor Booker (PF)
  5. Chris Singleton (G/F)

2012/2013 Projection:  41-41 second place in Southeast Division, finally coming out of the basement for the first time in close to a decade.

Analysis:

The Washington Wizards have finally become relevant again after spending close to five years mired in controversy and bad press.  They finally have gotten rid of the bad eggs and have decided to take the team in a new direction.  Instead of spending another season languishing in the bottom of the standings hoping for a miracle, the Washington Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld along with team owner Ted Leonsis decided to take action and place the future in their hands.  It started last season as they shockingly shipped the team’s leading rebounder and shot blocker, JaVale McGee to the Denver Nuggets for a much older and overpaid Nene.  The Wizards also jettisoned resident knucklehead Nick Young trading him to the Los Angeles Clippers for next to nothing and in doing so, caused a chain reaction that was felt throughout the DC Metropolitan Area.

With the departures of McGee and Young, the team’s outlook, chemistry and overall mentality turned a complete 180 degrees.  The Wizards shifted from being a young, immature and intellectually deficient team to one that was a focused, more professional and more cohesive unit.  Players that Wizards fans had all but given up on sudden came out of nowhere and simply exploded—the most prominent of them was Washington big man from France, Kevin Seraphin.  Upon entering the league, nothing much was expected from Seraphin as he showed little if anything to proved that he was good enough to play in the NBA; however, that all changed once Washington gave the heave ho to the “League of Dumbasses.”  The same player that everyone essentially had given up on became a scoring and rebounding machine as his numbers spiked to record breaking level.

From being a fringe player that produced little if anything, Seraphin exploded in the last month of the season going from averaging just 3 points and 3 rebound per game at the start of the season to posting 15 points and 7 rebounds per game.  Jordan Crawford also underwent a similar transformation as he went from struggling shooting guard to a solid complement to John Wall as the season came to a close.  Thanks to more consistent minutes with the departure of Nick Young, Crawford’s confidence in his game improved along with his production as he finished the season second on the team in scoring.  Jan Vessely, whom the Wizards picked 6th in the 2011 NBA Draft, proved that he was more skilled than the Wizards could have ever hoped for as he exploded at the end of the season averaging 8 points and 7 boards per game while shooting close to .560 from the field.  Altogether, there was no other time last season where the Wizards played so in sync than the Month of March when Grunfled and Leonosis jettisoned two players that Washington earlier planned to build on.

The Washington Wizards continued their overhaul into the off season sending of expiring dead weight contract of Rashard Lewis to the New Orleans Hornets in exchange for center Emeka Okafor and swingman Trevor Ariza.  In Okafor and Ariza, the Wizards acquired to players with strong professional reputations—veterans who always worked hard on the court win or lose.  Along with Nene, both Okafor and Ariza add seasoned veterans with strong characters to strengthened the Wizards’ new culture and serve as mentors to an eager and ready young roster looking to take that next step.  Some may criticize the Wizards for adding these three players because they take away any if not all salary cap flexibility in the future; however, one can counter by saying that the Wizards were not going anywhere to start with.  In addition, with the sad state Washington was in the last few seasons, no free agent would even consider settling in the Nation’s Capital.

Who better to play alongside their star in the making, John Wall, than three veterans known for their professionalism and hard work ethic?   Even Nene, who is approaching his 30th birthday and  is owed 65$ million over the next five years,  is a far better investment than giving it to a player who the coaching staff will hope to be as consistent and professional as Nene has been his entire career.  The same goes for Okafor or Ariza who may not produce much in terms of scoring, but will provide maturity and guidance along with consistent effort on the defensive end that the Wizards need.  If Nene manages to maintain his production in scoring and rebounds, which there is no reason to think that will not happen, his bloated contract will still be worth it in the long.  With him, Okafor and Ariza, the Wizards have taken their future into their hands instead of leaving it to fate and will come into this season stronger and ready to play hard every game.