By Michael Huberman
If there's a silver lining in John Wall's injury, it's the timing. For the Wizards, having their star miss training camp, preseason, and the early stretch of the regular season is better than the middle of the year or at the end during a playoff push.
The timetable for Wall's injury has been said to be eight weeks, though Wall has recently intimated he hopes to return sooner. One would have to think the Wizards will be cautious with their franchise player but if all goes according to plan with his rehab, Wall could be available around Thanksgiving.
If that's the case, the stretch of games the Wizards will play without Wall will be crucial if the team wants to stay afloat and secure their first playoff berth since 2008.
The Wizards begin the year at Cleveland, against an improving Cavaliers team. Like the Wizards, the Cavaliers franchise point guard also is recovering from an injury. However, Kyrie Irving's hand injury is not expected to prevent him from being ready for the season opener.
The Wizards then face a tough four game slate, with a home-and-home against the Celtics and games against the Bucks and Pacers. Last year the Wizards were a combined 1-10 against those three, with their lone win coming over the Bucks.
The rest of November doesn't look much easier for the Wizards. The Wizards go on the road to face three playoff teams from last year in the Mavericks, Hawks, and Knicks.
The Wizards will also host the Pacers, along with the Jazz, Trailblazers, and Spurs.
Fortunately for the Wizards they have two games against the lowly Charlotte Bobcats, who last year set the benchmark for futility with their 7-59 record, good for an NBA-record worst .106 winning percentage. With the exception of those Bobcats, the combined winning percentage of the ten teams the Wizards face through November was .543 in 2011-12.
The Wizards upgraded this offseason and should certainly be better than last year. Owner Ted Leonsis has gone on record saying another lottery appearance by the team would be "unacceptable". In order to avoid the lottery, the Wizards have to get off to a good start while they wait for their best player to return.