With the Washington Wizards finishing the season at 20-46, they ended with the 2nd worst record, assuring themselves of the 2nd most chances to land the first pick. Anthony Davis will certainly be the first pick, but don’t expect the Wizards to have a shot at him. Everybody knows that either the New Orleans Hornets or the Brooklyn Nets are going to win the draft lottery.
But right now, should being pessimistic about Washington’s draft lottery chances be the only thing fans view negatively? No Matter what your opinion on the lowly Wizards, you can’t help but think things are starting to look up.
Going into this off-season however, there are still a lot of questions that will need to be answered:
**Over at Wizards Extreme, I helped answer a few similar questions**
Who will the Wizards take in the draft?
Obviously the answer to this question depends on where they land in the lottery. Best case scenario is pick #1, and selecting Anthony Davis (but again, that won’t happen). Worst case scenario is the Wizards are jumped by 3 teams, and end up with the 5th pick overall. At that point, they miss out on an immediate impact player and will likely have to make a decision between Harrison Barnes or Andre Drummond (I choose Barnes in that situation). But if Washington lands either at the 2, 3, or 4 spot, they will be able to select someone who can contribute right away. Those candidates will be Bradley Beal, Michael Kidd- Gilchrist, and Thomas Robinson.
I will take a look at all the selection possibilities in a later article.
Who will Washington go after in free agency?
Right now, the Wizards projected salary for the 2012/2013 season is $59,097,262. Of course, this does not take in to account any future rookies, or Washington signing any of its players such as Shelvin Mack or any of the 10-day guys. But with reports projecting next years salary cap to be somewhere around $60-$61 million, the Wizards are going to be in good shape.
Most “experts” believe they will reach a buyout with Rashard Lewis, which would lower their salary by $10.79 million ($13 mil is still guaranteed) to $48,307,262 (again prior to any signing of players, rookies, etc.). So Washington could be in shape to be a major player in free agency, possibly getting an impact player or two and immediately upgrading their roster.
As you can tell from this list, there are some rather intriguing possibilities that could improve this roster. Keep in mind that Washington could also use the amnesty clause on Andray Blatche, giving them that much more room to make additions.
Is there going to be a new coach? If so, who?
Randy Wittman did an outstanding job with the unit he was given, and got these guys to play hard and compete. At the beginning of the season, even that seemed like it would be impossible. They bought into his system, young guys continued to develop, and this showed toward the end of the season when the Wizards went on a 6 game winning streak.
But is Wittman THE guy for the Wizards? With the resigning of GM Ernie Grunfeld, owner Ted Leonsis has shown he is loyal. This could be the perfect scenario for Wittman to keep his job. But with a total win-loss record as head coach in the NBA of 118-238, the Wizards would be doing themselves a favor if they did their due diligence in interviewing other head coaching prospect who may improve the team.
Will they change their name back to the Bullets?
That’s not a real question at this point (yet), but it is still fun to think about.
Will the young guys continue to develop?
Washington has many young pieces in place — John Wall, Trevor Booker, Jan Vesely, Kevin Seraphin, Jordan Crawford, as well as Chris Singleton and Shelvin Mack. Booker showed a huge improvement throughout the year until he was sidelined by injury. Down the stretch, Seraphin and Vesely continued to show signs of a growing game, and Jordan Crawford showed he could somewhat play within the offense. Singleton and Mack (as well as Vesely) will definitely benefit from a full off-season and training camp. We know with John Wall’s work ethic, that he will continue to get better, and he will hopefully return to the court with an improved jump shot. Surrounding this team with a shooter or two will go a long way for the Wizards.
There is definitely a lot of uncertainty surrounding this offseason. Next season could be a make or break year for the Wizards, because if they haven’t done enough to show their franchise player — John Wall — that they can compete, he may already make up his mind that the grass IS greener on the other side. But with the cap space the Wizards are likely to have, along with a top 5 pick in this years draft and the continued development of this young team, it is hard not to be optimistic….. which has been a hard thing for Wizards fans to be in recent years.