Bigger off-season move: Wall contract or signing Harrington
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
The interest: On the surface, a game against lowly Sacramento doesn't seem like a winner, but there are story lines galore. The Kings drafted Kansas guard and Bradley Beal's former AAU teammate Ben McLemore in the first round after Washington selected fellow Missourian Otto Porter. Former University of Maryland guard Greivis Vasquez went from finishing third in the NBA in assists last season while with New Orleans to landing with Sacramento in a deal that sent Tyreke Evans to the Big Easy. Then there is the big man, DeMarcus Cousins. At some point, every Wizards fan or pundit has contemplated if adding Cousins - whether actually possible or not - is one move Washington should consider making. Since the rising fourth-year center has not received a contract extension like his former college teammate John Wall, there will be tons of chatter throughout the season about whether the Kings should deal the talented but combustible Cousins. Wizards nation will eat this up. What they won't stomach is Washington being swept by the Kings, which is exactly what happened last season.
The Kings: We know the franchise is now staying in Sacramento after a lengthy change of ownership process. The roster direction is far less certain. The powerful and skilled Cousins has All-Star potential, but his suspect attitude often undermines his on-court opportunities. Otherwise, the team is loaded with gunners, a never-ending supply of 6-foot-9 forwards that excite few and of course, Jimmer Fredette. Some NBA teams this offseason acquisition-ed their way into 2014 lottery position -- and did so with apparent purpose. The Kings were already there.
The stat: The Wizards lost two games last season to the Kings by a combined two points. No far blaming Wall's injury either as both setbacks came with the point guard.
The matchup: Many pre-draft profiles of the knockdown shooting McLemore included some level of comparison to Beal. Don't expect the contrast talk to end now that both are in the NBA. There's the position, the size, the background and the game. In fact, the similarities are so obvious that drafting a shooting guard third overall would have been illogical for the Wizards considering the cost and Beal's presence. Yet considering his ability and the team's need for more scorers, some wanted the Wizards to select McLemore. Instead, Washington chose its small forward of the future in Porter. By this point in the season, we should have a sense about all of those decisions.