Earlier this month we learned the Wizards entire slate of games for the upcoming 2013-14 season and highlighted a few of the schedule's notable matchups. Now we go a bit deeper by counting down the 10 most interesting contests.
Game No. 10: Wizards at Bobcats, January 7
Game No. 9: Wizards vs. Kings, February 9
Game No. 8: Wizards vs. Knicks, November 23
Game No. 7: Wizards vs. Warriors, January 5
Game No. 6: Wizards vs. Magic, December 2
Game No. 5: Wizards vs. Thunder, February 1
GAME No. 4: Wizards vs. Bulls, January 13
The interest: He's baaaack. The NBA world knows the "he" is Derrick Rose, the league MVP for the 2010-11 season. Much to the dismay of the Chicago fan base but to the pleasure of those wanting to pile on, the point guard never played a second last season as he recovered from knee surgery. Starting with the mid-January contest, the Wizards and Bulls will play twice in five days and three times overall. Actually, the two sides first meet during the preseason in Brazil of all places. We'll see how much of Rose versus John Wall takes place in that contest. The trio of regular season matchup epitomizes must-see television. In four career head-to-head matchups, Rose leads Wall in scoring (25.8 vs. 15.5), assists (8.0 vs. 7.3) and wins (4 vs. 0).
The Bulls: Even without Rose, even with Joakim Noah playing on a gimpy foot and Luol Deng missing chunks of the playoff, the Bulls won 45 games, dispatched the Nets in the postseason's first round and gave eventual NBA champion Miami fits. Much of the credit goes to coach Tom Thibodeau's defensive schemes and the fight he mines from his players. Now tack on Rose and it's clear why some have Chicago dethroning the Heat - at least in the regular season race. One reason the Bulls survived and thrived, hard-nosed swingman Jimmy Butler's improvement. If the former Marquette product continues his development, if free agent addition Mike Dunleavy delivers as expected and if Rose returns to his award winning form, Chicago is arguably the best team in the entire league - even if management let Nate Robinson walk. Where's the fun in that?
The stat: Over their four games in last season's series, five Wizards averaged double figures in scoring, led by Wall (21.7). Not in that group, Bradley Beal, who averaged 8.7 points on a dismal 27.8 field goal percentage. Even though the rookie improved significantly in between injuries last season, the matchup doesn't figure to be much better with the 6-foot-8 Butler defending.
The matchup: Call this the John Calipari Bowl. Comparisons between the point guards have existed ever since Wall played his one year at Kentucky under the same coach that directed freshman Derrick Rose and Memphis to the 2008 National Title game. The association intensified with both players going No. 1 overall in their respective drafts (2010 for Wall). For now at least, that's where the discussion ends. In his third season, Rose won MVP and helped the Bulls claim the regular season title. For all of the legitimate praise heaped on Wall for the Wizards improved played last season, he has yet to reach the postseason. If Washington avoids injuries, Wall is in position to follow Rose into the playoffs this season. At that point, we'll see where we are with the head-to-head comparisons.