Washington Wizards 2013-14 Preview

Washington Wizards
Washington Wizards
Sep 27 2013 Washington DC USA Washington Wizards point guard John Wall 2 Wizards small forward Otto Porter Jr 22 and Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal 3 pose for a portrait during Wizards media day at Verizon Center Geoff Burke USA TODAY Sports

The Wizards finished with just 29 wins last season. Despite all that, the Wizards are keeping with their strategy of building this team of young lottery picks, largely staying off the free agent market but adding two strong picks in the draft.

Ultimately, this team is made up of almost nothing but high draft picks, from recent drafts and from a decade ago. They have the defensive abilities to compete with anyone but they are so offensively challenged that it’s hard to see them scoring on even the league’s worst defenses.

There are definitely some very talented kids on this team and one would hope that head coach Randy Wittman can develop them but it doesn’t look good. Lottery picks like Bradley Beal and Jan Vesely have been underwhelming while veterans like Nene Hilario, Trevor Ariza, Al Harrington, and the injured Emeka Okafor are clearly on the decline. Randy Wittman has never been a winning coach and isn’t a good bet to lead this group of terrible shooters, declining veterans, and inconsistent youngsters. There is hope for the future though, let’s see what the Wizards are working with this season.

2012-13 Ranks:

Wins: 29

Points Per Game: 28th

FG%: 27th

Points Allowed Per Game: 8th

Rebounds Per Game: 9th

Notable Additions: Otto Porter Jr., Glen Rice Jr., Al Harrington, Eric Mayor

Notable Losses: None.

Point Guards: John Wall, Eric Maynor, Garrett Temple – Grade: B+

Wall only managed to play about half the season last season but improved across the board and, at 23, could be ready to be the elite point guard the Wizards hoped he would be when they took him first-overall in 2010. Wall averaged a career-high 18.5 PPG, 7.6 APG, 4.0 RPG, and 1.3 SPG while shooting 44 percent from the floor, improving from 42 percent the previous year. If he can stay on the court, Wall looks as good as advertised when he first came out of Kentucky.

Maynor will be an insurance policy for Wall but not a particularly good one. He averaged 6.9 PPG, 4.0 APG, and shot 42 percent after going to Portland last year but all of those stats are the highest we’ve seen from him. He typically shoots under 40 percent and is a mediocre bench player with some three-point skills and a few assists.

Although he’s only been in the league since 2009, the Wizards’ are Temple’s sixth NBA team. He didn’t particularly impress last season, putting up 5.1 PPG, 2.3 APG, and shooting .407 from the floor, despite having to start 36 games in place of Wall. Clearly, the Wizards still don’t have good players behind Wall and desperately need him to stay healthy.

Shooting Guards: Bradley Beal, Martell Webster, Glen Rice Jr. – Grade: B-

As a 19-year-old rookie, Beal averaged a solid 13.9 PPG, 3.8 RPG, and 1.6 3PPG but shot just 41 percent from the floor. The third-overall pick in 2012, he has a solid long-range game but there is a lot to work on if he wants to be a true NBA starting guard. He has looked much improved in the early games of the preseason and remains a work in progress.

Webster started at small forward last season and averaged a decent 11.4 PPG, 3.9 RPG, and 1.8 3PPG. His 44 percent shooting isn’t great for a forward but it’s much better for a guard that takes a lot of threes. He attempted an average of 4.3 threes a game last year and nailed 42 percent of them. The Wizards need more of the same from Webster, but in the rotation, not as a starter.

Rice was the 35th overall pick in this year’s draft and averaged 13 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 1.3 SPG, and shooting 46 percent from the floor in his final season at Georgia Tech. He was dismissed by the Yellow Jackets after his junior season because of some legal issues and Rice decided to play in the D-League in 2012. He led the Rio Grande Valley Vipers to a D-League championship, averaging 25 points, 9.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists, two blocks, and two steals in the playoffs. The D-League did him a lot of good and helped him get drafted fairly high for a guy with bad PR in his past. There is a lot to like about Rice and, even though Beal was a lottery pick, Rice could be the better player.

Small Forwards: Otto Porter Jr., Trevor Ariza. Chris Singleton – C+

Porter was the third-overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft and figures to be a starter if he’s healthy by the season opener. In his sophomore year at Georgetown, Porter averaged 16.2 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 2.7 APG, 1.8 SPG, and one block per game while shooting a strong 48 percent from the floor and 42 percent from three-point range. Although there’s still some growing up to do, both size-wise and adapting from the Georgetown system to the NBA, he is a great fundamentally sound player who can score from anywhere on the court and can rebound the ball well despite his lack of strength. He won’t be an elite player this season but he could develop into one of the best.

Ariza is an excellent veteran defender and a useful rotation player. Last season, he averaged 9.5 points and shot just .417 from the floor but he can nail some threes and fights for rebounds and steals. Still, he’s not a guy you want out there for 30 minutes per game, he’s proven that much throughout his career.

Singleton can play anywhere on the court and looked solid defensively last season, averaging 7.2 rebounds, 1.5 steals, and one block per 36 minutes. Ultimately, his 38 percent shooting and lack of contribution on offense are too ugly to put him out there for significant minutes and he’s just one of many unattractive options on the Wizards bench.

Power Forwards: Nene Hilario, Trevor Booker, Al Harrington, Jan Vesely – C+

Perhaps it’s all the injuries that have plagued him over the last two seasons but Nene clearly showed significant signs of decline last season. At 30-years-old, Hilario shot just 48 percent from the floor (54 percent in 2011-12, 61.5 percent in 2010-11) and averaged 12.6 PPG, 6.7 RPG, and half a block per game, all his worst in five years. If he can stay healthy, perhaps he can look more like the impressive forward we saw in Denver but, at 31, it seems unlikely.

Booker is a strong rebounder, averaging 5.0 per game last season despite playing just 18.5 MPG. He’s not a great scorer but his 49 percent shooting last season was solid and he plays solid defense. At 6-foot-7, he doesn’t have the size to bang with most of the league’s power forwards and that’s really the problem with his game. Too small to be a power forward, not a good enough scorer to be a small forward.

Harrington managed to play just 10 games last season and, at 33, is a questionable pickup. The Wizards clearly need bodies up front but better bodies would have been a smarter direction to go. His last actual season, in 2011-12, he shot just 44.6 percent from the floor (still an improvement from his 41.6 the previous year) and averaged a passable 14.2 PPG and 6.1 RPG. You can get those numbers, and a much higher shooting percentage, from plenty of players and signing Harrington doesn’t seem worth it.

Vesely, a sixth-overall pick in 2011, hasn’t gotten much time to play but he’s not too bad from what we’ve seen. He’s not much of a scorer but shoots over 50 percent from the floor and averages 7.3 rebounds, one steal, and one block per 36 minutes. At 23, the Wizards are still trying to develop him but they should take the baby gloves off, especially since they have no hopes to make a run at anything this season.

Centers: Emeka Okafor, Kevin Seraphin – C

Okafor is out indefinitely with a neck injury and showed some regression last season anyway. He put up a career-low 9.7 PPG, a rough .477 field-goal percentage (.533 in 2011-12), and 8.8 RPG (9.9 career). The points, rebounds, blocks, shooting percentage were all way down last season and I don’t expect Okafor to be a big contributor if he is able to return.

Seraphin shot just 46 percent last season but averaged a decent 15.1 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per 36 minutes. The tools are there and he’ll likely get the chance to start in Okafor’s place but whether he can put it together or not is a huge question mark.

Coach: Randy Wittman – Grade: D

Wittman enters his third season as the Wizards’ coach after having led the Cavaliers and the Timberwolves. His track record is something to be desired. His teams have never won more than 39 percent of their games, and that was in his first year in Cleveland. He has a career .336 win percentage and has never shown to be someone who can develop teams into much of anything.

Team Grade: C-

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Igor Derysh
Igor Derysh is Editor-at-Large at XN Sports and has been featured in The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald, Baltimore Sun, Orlando Sun-Sentinel, and FantasyPros. He has previously covered sports for COED Magazine, Fantasy Alarm, and Manwall.com.