The Washington Wizards wrapped up their 2012-2013 season last night with a defeat at the hands of the playoff bound Bulls. This marked the 6th straight loss for the Wiz Kids, but with the injury bug in what seems to be prime time mating season, these losses should be taken with a grain of salt. Yes some of those losses were assisted by the Wizards lack of execution in the 4th, but with two to three of our top scorers out each night, points are hard to come by in crunch time. Washington finished the season 29-53 which marks its 5th consecutive losing season, but there were some bright spots sprinkled into what seemed to be another lost season.
First and foremost, the play of our young, budding back-court is the brightest spot of the season. John Wall and Brad Beal only played in 24 games together, but those 24 games were must watch basketball for Wiz fans. They went 15-9 during that stretch which equates to a .625 winning percentage. Multiply that over the course of 82 games and you have a 51 win team. While I’m not expecting the Wizards to win 51 games next season, it isn’t out of the question. If Washington is going to enjoy playoff-caliber success, our stars are going to have to stay healthy for a majority of the season.
The next bright spot might be a bright spot somewhere else next year. Martell Webster was hands down the best signing of the off-season and had a career year for the Wizards. While he developed into a deadly 3-point shooter, Martell also became a fan favorite, especially in the Twitter universe. When Webster stroked a three bomb during a game, your twitter feed would be flooded with “MART3LL” tweets. Webster also has such a magnetic and fun personality you can’t help but to love his playful antics. Hopefully Grunfeld can get one thing right this off-season and that would be to re-sign Mr. Webster.
Emeka Okafor also showed us plenty of reminders why he was the 2nd overall pick back in 2004. After a slow start to the season, Mek provided a solid defensive and rebounding presence while showing signs that he still has a respectable offensive repertoire. Okafor will be back with the Wiz next year and his veteran presence will sure help this team in taking the next step.
While Wall and Beal have been some tremendous draft picks for Washington, the same can’t be said for the rest of Grunfeld’s lackluster picks. The Wiz Kids finished with the 8th worst record in the league, which gives them a 2.8% chance to nab the first overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. The infamous, closed door, feel-good story driven draft lottery will be held May 21st. This is the next big date for the Wizards and we will be all holding our breaths to see how David Stern’s ping pong balls bounce. If I had to bet on who would win the draft lottery, my money would be on Sacramento. The Kings are for sale and we know how Stern likes to treat those situations (Hornets got The Brow). Stern will probably wait until next season to finally payback MJ when Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins enter the draft. Even though the draft lottery has become a bigger joke than Santino Marella’s finishing move, we will all still be tuned in with our fingers crossed and our lucky charms in hand. The ultimate goal is to be in position to draft an Otto Porter or a Shabazz Muhammad or an Anthony Bennett, but I wouldn’t hold your breaths Wiz fans.
Free Agency will also be an interesting time for the Wizards this off-season With just over $57,000,000 committed in salaries for next year already, the Wiz Kids won’t be making any major free-agent acquisitions. The contracts of AJ Price, Garrett Temple, Martell Webster, Leandro Barbosa, Jason Collins, and Cartier Martin are all expiring this summer and it will be interesting to see who Grunfeld brings back. It’s a pretty safe bet to say Barbosa and Collins will be elsewhere or retired. Everyone and their brothers want Martell back in the fold next year, and most are Garrett Temple fans as well if he can be had on the cheap. The Wiz should be looking for an upgrade to the back-up PG position, but a team could do worse than AJ Price. I don’t see Cartier back in the fold unless Webster cannot be re-signed. There are plenty of roster decisions that will be made in the coming months, so let’s just hope those decisions are helpful in a return trip to the playoffs next season.
It will be an interesting off-season for sure, and hopefully an eventful one to boot. Blog So Hard will be putting out plenty of Wizards off-season coverage in the coming months but in the meantime, let us know what you would like to see happen in Wizard Land this off-season in the comments section.
Until next time, and one last time as I pour one out for J Craw, stay Steezy my friends.