2014-15 NBA SEASON PREVIEW CONTENT LIST
Atlantic: Celtics | Nets | Knicks | 76ers | Raptors |Division Preview
Central: Bulls | Cavaliers | Pistons | Pacers | Bucks | Division Preview
Southeast: Hawks | Hornets | Heat | Magic | Wizards | Division Preview
Pacific: Warriors | Clippers | Lakers | Suns | Kings | Division Preview
Northwest: Nuggets | Timberwolves | Thunder | Trail Blazers | Jazz | Division Preview
Southwest: Mavericks | Rockets | Grizzlies | Pelicans | Spurs | Division Preview
Articles: Assessing the Cavaliers Trio | Important Season for James Harden | Return of Paul George? | Trading Rajon Rondo | Are the Nuggets This Season’s Suns? | NBA’s Best Starting Five | NBA’s Worst Starting Five | Now or Never for Durant and Thunder After Injury
Fantasy Basketball: Top 10 PGs | Top 10 SGs | Top 10 SFs | Top 10 PFs | Top 10 Cs | Sleepers, Studs, and Sinkholes | Analyzing the Schedule | BMF Mock Draft | Cavs and Cav-Nots | Like A Bosh | Rajon Injury Impact
Most Important Player: Bradley Beal
John Wall is the team’s best player, but there can be an argument made that Beal has just as high, if not a higher ceiling. He garnered comparisons to Ray Allen in last season’s playoffs, and with his shooting stroke, he can absolutely become that next great pure shooter (at least in the East because Klay Thompson isn’t so bad in the West). If Beal takes that next step to being a 20 point-per-game type of player, and he becomes a reliable scorer on his own, Washington will no longer have just one star, it will have two.
X-Factor: Otto Porter
Even though Otto Porter isn’t a starter, he will play big minutes this season because of the acquisition of Paul Pierce. The number three overall pick from the 2013 draft class was supposed to be the third piece to a new-aged Washington big 3, but he came into last season injured, and Trevor Ariza performed well in a contract season. With Ariza now a member of the Houston Rockets, and with his replacement Pierce at an advanced age, Porter will now be relied upon to play big minutes during the regular season.
Rotation: The Wizards should have one of the deepest rotations in the NBA. The starting lineup will be the same as last season sans Ariza for Pierce now. Off the bench, Humphries and Blair will relieve Nene and Gortat. Andre Miller, the veteran point guard who the Wizards acquired in the middle of last season, will continue to backup John Wall. Martell Webster is coming into the season recovering from offseason surgery, so in all likelihood, Porter and Glen Rice Jr. will serve as the firsts off the bench at the small forward and shooting guard position. At the end of the bench, Drew Gooden, Kevin Seraphin and Garrett Temple will be there to provide extra depth.
What Needs to Go Right: The Wizards need to find a good balance for Pierce’s minutes this season. Obviously, he’s not going to play 30 minutes a game. He might not even play 25 a game. But he’ll start and finish games. In between the start and finish, Otto Porter will have to fill in effectively.
It’s Really Bad If: The Wizards regress. There is no reason that this team shouldn’t win at least the 44 games that they won last season. Guys should be better equipped to deal with some of the situations that they struggled in last season at various points during games, and there is now championship experience with the addition of Paul Pierce.
Bold Prediction: The Wizards will upset either the Bulls or the Cavaliers in the second round of the playoffs and advance to the eastern conference finals. That prediction isn’t out of the realm of possibility, because the talent and depth is there.
Bradley Beal, SG
Strengths: Shooting, size, capable of getting to the basket, strong free throw shooter, clutch player, solid and capable defender, very determined.
Weaknesses: Ball handling and ability to run the offense on a consistent basis (for some reason the Wizards like to run him at the point more than they probably should).
Season Prediction: 20 points per game, first All-Star Game appearance.
DeJuan Blair, PF
Strengths: Rebounds unbelievably well for a man his size, very tough to deal with in the paint, capable inside scorer, plays his role well.
Weaknesses: Undersized, can become disgruntled if he isn’t playing the minutes he feels he deserves, no ACL’s (but that hasn’t necessarily be a weakness so far in his career).
Season Prediction: Along with Kris Humphries, he will contribute to one of the league’s deepest front courts. Teams will have difficulty dealing with him in the paint.
Drew Gooden, PF
Strengths: Stretch shooter, excellent passer fora big man, and great locker room presence.
Weaknesses: Age, but he most likely won’t be asked to play big minutes at any point this season. Four guys ahead of him on the depth chart and in the rotation.
Season Prediction: Reliable veteran who probably won’t see much playing time this season. But he will not complain, and he should serve as a good mentor for the younger guys on the team.
Marcin Gortat, C
Strengths: Decent inside scorer, good rebounder and post defender.
Weaknesses: Inconsistent mid-range shot, struggles from the foul line.
Season Prediction: Double-double. He averaged 13 and 9 last season, and with a new contract in hand, he’ll be anxious to prove he’s worth the money.
Kris Humphries, PF/C
Strengths: Good rebounder and effort guy.
Weaknesses: Not a great scorer, no real go to moves. Probably will be some drop-off offensively in the game when he’s in for Nene or Gortat.
Season Prediction: Will primarily serve as the backup center. He should be a solid presence in the paint known mainly for his rebounding and occasional bucket here and there.
Andre Miller, PG
Strengths: Has the ultimate old man game: not flashy or quick, but really, really effective as seen last season in the playoffs. Good post game for a point guard, still a good distributor as well.
Weakness: Similar to Gooden, age, but Miller will be asked to play more minutes as the team’s primary backup point guard for John Wall. As an older player, will probably have to be switched off of young point guards defensively because of the inability to stay in front of quicker guys.
Season Prediction: As one of the best sneaky pickups last season, Miller is back for another go round. Should be a solid contributor for 8-12 minutes a game behind Wall, and he should orchestrate that second team’s offense well in that time span.
Nene Hilario, PF
Strengths: Very strong post game, one of the most underrated low-post scorers in the league. Also, solid mid-range shooter as well. Very smooth offensively.
Weaknesses: Not a great rebounder or free throw shooter. Also gets injured more than fans would like to see.
Season Prediction: If he can stay healthy, he will probably be the team’s third or fourth option offensively. He dominated the league’s defensive player of the year (Joakim Noah) in last season’s playoffs, so there’s no reason other than his health that he shouldn’t be able to do it for a full season.
Paul Pierce, SF
Strengths: Clutch player (they don’t call him the truth for no reason). Great shooter, should get a lot of open looks from John Wall. Seeing how successful Trevor Ariza was last season with his three point barrage, Pierce should be destined for similar results. Also, versatile late in his career. Spent a lot of time at the four last season.
Weaknesses: Father Time. At 36 year old, Pierce isn’t the same guy that helped lead the Boston Celtics to its 17th franchise title. Might also be a liability on defense against great scorers at the small forward position.
Season Prediction: Pierce will be used in the best way that gets him to the playoffs healthy and ready to play extended minutes. So don’t expect big numbers from him during the regular season. Just expect to see him doing his best to gain chemistry with Wall and company while on the court.
Otto Porter, SF
Strengths: Long and athletic. Ability to guard multiple positions.
Weaknesses: Inconsistent jumper. Also struggled with health during his rookie season.
Season Prediction: After a lackluster first year, expect Porter to show some of the things that made him the number three overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. With an aging Pierce not expected to play huge minutes during the regular season, Porter will get ample opportunity to play with the starters and make an impact.
Glen Rice Jr., SG/SF
Strengths: Great size. Versatile, can play multiple positions.
Weaknesses: Inconsistent shooter.
Season Prediction: Rice was named the MVP of this year’s Summer League. He showed plenty of versatility and offensive firepower. As the backup for Bradley Beal, he probably won’t play big minutes, but he should look to be very aggressive when he does get his opportunities.
Kevin Seraphin, PF/C
Strengths: High energy, good rebounder.
Weaknesses: Undersized, not a defined post game.
Season Prediction: Don’t expect to see much of Seraphin with the depth in the front court this season.
Garrett Temple, PG
Strengths: Great defender, can guard both guard positions and some small forwards in the league. Sees a lot of action in crunch time defensive moments.
Weaknesses: Poor shooter, doesn’t offer much on the offensive end.
Season Prediction: Will spell Wall and Miller when called upon, may compete with Rice for minutes at the backup two position, but will most likely see time in defensive situations only, unless Rice struggles.
John Wall, PG
Strengths: With the exception of maybe Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook, probably the most athletic point guard in the league and the fastest from end to end with the ball in his hands. A one man fast break. Improved shooter. Great playmaker and distributor. Long and athletic, potential to guard both backcourt positions. Also extremely motivated by being cut from the FIBA roster and a recent slight in his mind by Sports Illustrated’s top 100 list.
Weaknesses: While improved as a shooter, he is still not a great shooter. Also, still turns the ball over too much for a potentially great point guard.
Season Prediction: Should make second All-Star Team. Will defend Slam Dunk title. Along with Bradley Beal, should help lead this team to around 50 wins and at least a second round playoff visit. Will also continue to garner respect as one of the league’s best up and coming point guards.
Martell Webster, SF/SG
Strengths: Very good shooter from distance, can play both wing positions.
Weaknesses: Can be a liability on the defensive end. Also won’t start the season because of recovery from surgery.
Season Prediction: Will not start the season off in the rotation due to injury, but upon return, he should figure in somewhere because of his shooting ability. But if Porter and Temple step up and show an ability to contribute offensively and knock down shots, Webster might not see much playing time as the season goes on.
MORE ON THE WIZARDS
Significant offseason moves: The biggest move of the offseason for the Washington Wizards was bringing back the Polish Hammer, Marcin Gortat. Last season, Gortat averaged nearly a double-double, with 13 points and nine rebounds per game as the team’s starting center. The Wizards locked up Gortat for the foreseeable future, with a five-year deal worth $60 million.
The Washington Wizards also made a long term move by parting ways with Trevor Ariza and taking a flyer on Paul Pierce. Pierce signed a two-year deal worth $11 million, with the long term thinking of his contract being up in the summer of 2016, when Kevin Durant is set to hit the open market. Besides just making the move to bring in a savvy veteran in Pierce, the Wizards might have created one of the league’s best rotation of big men, when they signed Kris Humphries and DeJuan Blair in an effort to sure up the bench.
Team’s biggest strengths: The two best players for the Wizards are still very, very young. John Wall is just 24, while Bradley Beal just turned 21 a few months ago. They made great strides last season, and many believe they will be one of the best backcourts in the NBA within the next few seasons. The league began to take notice of Wall and Beal last season, as Wall was named to his first All-Star Game, and both Wall and Beal were invited to team USA’s FIBA camp this summer. As long as they both continue to develop and get better, which they have done since entering the league in 2010 and 2012 respectively, this team will continue to make its way to top of the Eastern Conference.
Team’s biggest weakness: The one weakness this team might have is depth at the shooting guard and small forward positions. Obviously Beal is one of the best young shooting guards in the league, and Pierce is one of the greats of this generation, but behind them, there are some question marks. Martell Webster will start the season rehabbing from back surgery, so the onus will fall on second year players Otto Porter and Glen Rice Jr. Both looked great during Summer League play and have loads of potential, but they will have to contribute when called upon during the regular season to spell Beal and Pierce.
Goals: Eastern Conference Finals. Obviously with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls being the favorites ahead of them, many will have those two teams playing for the right to make it to the NBA Finals. But it’s all about making progress for the Wizards and continuing to build off of their 2013-14 campaign. Last season, the Wizards overachieved in the eyes of many by making it to the Eastern Conference Semifinals, as they were almost universally picked to lose to the Bulls in their first round battle. But they managed to grow up before everybody’s eyes and defeat a gritty Chicago team. They were the favorites of many to beat the dysfunctional Indiana Pacers, but youth and inexperience caught up to them at the most inopportune times en route to a six game series loss. Making it back to that point would be good, but advancing past that point would be great.