The Sports Bank will be counting down to the opening tip of the 2012-13 NBA season with team by team previews starting with the worst and working our way to the title contenders. There is no lockout this time around so let’s get going.
The Washington Wizards training camp began with a sour taste as news came out that John Wall suffered a minor setback to his knee injury and could miss the first month of the regular season. That is not the start that a franchise which has suffered through four straight brutally bad years was hoping to hear as they try to turn the corner and inch towards becoming a playoff contender.
2011-12: 20-46, 14th in Eastern Conference
Predicted EC Finish: 14th
Projected Depth Chart:
C: Nene Hilario/Emeka Okafor/Kevin Seraphin
PF: Jan Vesely/Trevor Booker/Brian Cook
SF: Chris Singleton/Trevor Ariza/Martell Webster
SG: Jordan Crawford/Bradley Beal/Cartier Martin
PG: John Wall/Shelvin Mack/A.J. Price
Washington’s off-season was: beneficial for the short term and long term. It is clear management wanted to add some experience to all the young talent on the roster which is why they swapped JaVale McGee for Nene prior to last season’s trade deadline and why they acquired Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza for next to nothing during the summer. I didn’t love the Okafor/Ariza deal since the duo is due a combined $43 million over the next two seasons but it does add some needed experience that they were unlikely to find in free agency and might give the Wizards the best center duo in the league. Adding Okafor also allowed the team formerly known as the Bullets to amnesty Andray Blatche and rid themselves of his bloated contract.
Drafting Bradley Beal was the right decision as he should give Washington a more well-rounded shooting guard outside of the incredibly offensive-minded, shot happy Jordan Crawford. I don’t think Beal has superstar potential but could become a solid starter and will likely be groomed with Wall as the backcourt of the future.
2012-2013 will be a success if: the youth and veterans jell together. Washington has spent the past couple of seasons re-building with a plethora of young draft picks. Those players have performed well thus far but haven’t truly taken the next step in meshing as a unit. The veteran presence of Nene, Okafor, and Ariza with add leadership on and off the court which should leak down to the younger players in some regard.
Wall, Vesely, and Singleton must all take steps forward especially if Vesely and Singleton are going to remain in the starting line-up. Wall hasn’t emerged as the superstar top overall pick like say a Derrick Rose or even what we saw last year in Kyrie Irving. Playoffs probably aren’t a realistic goal but if the Wizards can inch closer to the five hundred mark, it will be a step in the right direction.
2012-2013 will be a disappointment if: Wall’s injury continues to nag him throughout the season and he never becomes fully healthy. There is no question that Wall is the face of the franchise and the engine that makes this team go. With him sidelined, the Wiz turn over the point guard position to Shelvin Mack and A.J. Price which is a massive downgrade. I’m not sure this team is ready to make a major leap with Wall in the line-up but the longer he is sitting on the bench in street clothes, the more likely Washington remains near the basement of the Eastern Conference.
Looking ahead to next summer: Not much happens with their current roster. Ariza has a player option but no way he turns down more than $7.7 million to become a free agent The Wiz also has team options on all of their young talent but those should all be picked up by the time those decisions need to be made.
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David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag.)Follow paulmbanks