Wizards hopeful for positive start to season
Mission: To see into the future.
Topic: Washington Wizards and the 2013-14 NBA Season
Agents: J. Michael and Ben Standig
Disclaimer: This post will self-destruct if the predictions are brutal or the Wizards veer anywhere near another 4-28 start...
Part 1: What about the Wizards?
* Nene games played:
J. Michael: 60. If Marcin Gortat hadn't showed up, would've guessed closer to 45-50.
Standig: 63. My take throughout the preseason is that the Wizards cannot afford to be without the Brazilian big man for more than 20 games. I'll go just under that number. Whether it's old aches or new pains, expect plenty of rest, especially during grueling stretches of the schedule.
* Marcin Gortat combined points, rebounds, blocks (average):
J. Michael: 14 pts, 7 reb, 1.5 blocks.
Standig: Bovada set the over/under for Gortat's points at 10.5, rebounds at 7.5. Over the last two seasons the "Polish Machine" has surpassed those numbers, though the Wizards have more capable point producers than some of his other stops. 12.8 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.5 blocks = 23.8.
* Bradley Beal's scoring average:
J. Michael: 24.
* Does John Wall finish top 5 in NBA assists (average)?
J. Michael: Yes. 10.5. Has more finishers in Gortat and Harrington and won't have to focus so much on scoring like he did last season when they were short-handed.
Standig: My call is 8.8 assists for the Wizards point guard, which would be a career-high. Last season that was enough for top 5 status, but it's 50-50 over the last four seasons. So...yes.
* Last season the Wizards shot 36.5 % on 3’s. Better or worse this season?
J. Michael: About the same. The open looks will be there because of the small-ball options. So they may take even more 3s, which makes that average tougher to maintain.
Standig: The Wizards ranked 10th in percentage but 20th in 3-point attempts. With this year's personnel, expect more shots launched from beyond the arc, which makes maintaining the high percentage trickier. Nobody likes to push, so I'll go ever-so-slightly under.
* Will any Wizard make the All-Star team and if so, who?
J. Michael: Beal. Based on how he has played in the preseason, he's a strong candidate. He doesn't have as much competition as John Wall at his position.
Standig: More on this angle later in the week, but the answer is yes and the answer is Bradley Beal. Anyone that watched his preseason play is currently nodding at that call. John Wall could turn into the awesome version of Gary Payton and still not make the East because of the stacked point guard position.
* Will the Wizards finish the season as a top-10 defense?
J. Michael: Yes. Emeka Okafor anchored the defense in the middle, but Gortat is not a bad defender. Besides, it's about team concepts. Most of the pieces from last season are still there.
Standig: Yes. Even without Emeka Okafor the Wizards were holding teams to low shooting percentages during preseason. Gortat has game and Randy Wittman has had the Wizards thinking about defense from the first day of camp.
* Will Trevor Ariza be on the team after the All-Star break?
J. Michael: Guessing about trades are total crapshoots but I'll say yes. If the Wizards are in the playoff picture, as their best one-on-one defender why would such a move be made unless it's too good to pass up?
Standig: Before training camp, when we thought the Wizards had a healthy Emeka Okafor and Otto Porter, the answer would have been no. Now, the answer is yes. Ariza keys the Wizards defense and he'll be an asset in small ball lineups. Only caveat is if the playoffs look in doubt, then they deal his expiring contract.
* Otto Porter games played over/under 62?
J. Michael: Under. 40-50 appearances. And would be surprised if he averaged more than 12 minutes a game with so many other vets such as Ariza and Martell Webster ahead of him.
Standig: Truly the hardest question on the board because Porter's day-to-day status with a hip flexor injury is now over a month old. Sadly, going under. Beal played in 56 games. His fellow Missourian matches him.
* Jan Vesely: Over/Under 51 games and 11.8 mpg?
J. Michael: Under. He had his chance to play his way into the rotation in the offseason, and not picking up the 2014-15 option on his contract is your answer. Too many better players ahead of him. Unless there's an injury, I can't see it.
Standig: Under. Vesely missed 31 games last season and received limited playing time for a team hammered with injuries. He was not among the walking wounded. Unless another wave of bumps and bruises forces Wittman's hand, hard imagining Vesely receives more action.
* More starts: Trevor Booker or Kevin Seraphin?
J. Michael: Booker. With Nene ahead of him at power forward, it's more likely he'll have to sub for when the Brazilian is injured or too sore to suit up. And that's almost a certainty to happen here and there.
Standig: Booker. Cap'n Crunch played 31 fewer games than Seraphin last season, but made six more starts. Even when Nene misses games, the Wizards will need Seraphin's offense off the bench. Gortat's presence can help offset Booker's lack of scoring in such scenarios.
* No. of regular season wins:
J. Michael: 43.
* Will the Wizards make the playoffs?
J. Michael: Yes. Playoffs are all about matchups. But the guess here is that they do well enough to show up and be competitive in the first round before losing in five or six games. It all depends on the opponent.
Standig: Yes. From there, avoid the Heat and Bulls and perhaps the Wizards could shock the world with a first-round upset. Regardless, take their opponent deep into a series and be this year's version of the exciting Golden State Warriors, we're talking a success story.