Complete Roster Breakdown and Season Outlook
We are on the eve of the tip off to the Washington Wizards 2012-2013 campaign folks and hopefully this season brings us more joy than seasons past. With a re-tooled roster, bad baggage dropped, and a promising rookie there are lots of things to get excited about in DC. This season the Wizards have a more experienced roster with playoff and championship experience to join our young talent and hopefully that means we won’t have a weekly spot reserved on ESPN’s Not Top Ten as we did last season.
In the off-season and before last season’s trade deadline Ernie Grunfeld finally did what we diehard fans were cheering to do a long time ago. He finally got rid of his failed draft choices in Nick Young, Andray Blatche, and Javale McGee so we don’t have to see any more of these immature escapades. Grunfeld also shipped out the most overpaid player in the universe in Rashard Lewis. In return for those four incumbent players, the Wiz received Nene, Trevor Ariza, and Emeka Okafor. Nene brought us a veteran post player with playoff experience. Ariza brings a championship ring and some solid wing defense while Okafor is a NCAA Champion with several seasons of NBA experience. All three players have a great reputation of personality and locker room guidance which is exactly what this squad of youngsters needed. One area that Grunfeld did not upgrade however was the coaching position of the team as he brought back Randy Wittman as head coach, along with his 118-238 career record. While this move seemed skeptical to most, I will give it a pass for now as most of the players really seem to enjoy playing for him.
The Wizards capped off last season winning six straight and eight of their last ten games. The last five games of the season showed how vital Nene can really be to this team, especially defensively. With Nene in the lineup those last five game, things opened up for John Wall as he averaged 12.4 assists. This season we are going to have to wait to see how dangerous our full starting lineup can be as Wall will be out the first month of the season as he is nursing his left knee. Wall had the early signs of a stress fracture and was shut down before things got worse. Also, Nene is still battling Plantar Fasciitis that has bothered him since last season. We are hoping that the last week of November or the first week of December we will have our full starting line-up on display at full strength. Now let’s take a look at our final roster and projected lineup player by player.
ROSTER BREAKDOWN*Projected Lineup Reflects John Wall’s and Nene’s Injuries.
PG – A.J.Price:
This is A.J. Price’s 4th season in the league and he will begin the season as the Wizards starting point guard. Price has looked strong in the preseason when he plays within his game and doesn’t try to force the issue. Price will be the main backup at point guard when John Wall returns from injury. He has shown throughout the preseason that he can ignite the offense and limit turnovers which is just what this team needs until Wall comes back.
SG – Bradley Beal:
I’m sure hoping that Wittman decides to start our 3rd overall pick in this past year’s draft over Jordan Crawford. In preseason action the team played better as a whole with Beal in the lineup and Crawford as the first man off the bench. Beal brings scoring, a sweet outside stroke, play-making ability, and a high basketball IQ and court awareness to the table and should really flourish when John Wall returns to the court.
SF – Martell Webster:
This is another position where I hope coach Wittman sees things my way. Webster has outplayed Trevor Ariza by a long shot so far this preseason and his scoring touch is much needed in our starting lineup. I’m not saying that Ariza would be a bad decision to start but let’s let him have a little more time to find his groove with this team and take advantage of how good Martell Webster is playing at the moment.
PF – Trevor Booker:
I’m putting Trevor Booker here as our starting PF for the opener tomorrow. Kevin Seraphin is nursing a calf injury and has missed the last couple exhibition games and Trevor Booker has been playing some great basketball to end the preseason. Nene will fill this spot once he gets healthy. Booker is entering his third season and has really looked like he improved in the off-season. He is one of the players I’m most looking forward to watching this season.
C – Emeka Okafor:
Okafor is entering his ninth season in the league and is best known for his defense. He will be anchoring the post for us and his veteran presence is much needed. The former 2nd overall pick looks to be in great shape and should prove to be just what our defense needed. A defensive minded center that doesn’t goaltend on every other play and actually knows which way to run down the court. McGee, you will not be missed.
F/C – Kevin Seraphin:
Seraphin was on a tear to end last season and let’s hope that can carry into this season. Seraphin is one of Wittman’s biggest supporters and really plays well under his guidance. If healthy he could be starting tomorrow night against the Cavs, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they bring him off the bench in a limited role, if he plays at all. Once the Wiz get their full healthy rotation back, expect him to be the first big man off the bench and make a run at the most improved player and possibly 6th man of year award.
G – Jordan Crawford:
Jordan Crawford may end up being our starting SG this year, but he really is best suited to be a gunner off the bench. While people have been praising his passing abilities, I have yet to see them on a consistent basis. Crawford is a scorer at heart and if he can come off the bench and provide our second unit with 15-20 points a night his talents will be fully utilized.
F – Trevor Ariza:
Ariza is another player that could very well be starting for Washington, but at the moment I think he needs to come off the bench. In preseason action he doesn’t seem to be in a groove yet with the Wizards and he would be best suited to come off the bench, at least at the beginning of the season. Ariza is a seasoned vet with a NBA championship to his name so his presence in the locker room is one of his greatest assets. He knows what it takes to win a title and hopefully he relays that in the locker room. Ariza is a very good wing defender and his skills will be much needed against the likes of Lebron, Carmelo, and some of the premier wing players in the Eastern Conference.
F – Jan Vesely:
Last year’s 6th overall selection was a slight disappointment in his rookie campaign and so far he hasn’t looked like he improved much. Vesely does a lot of the small things great and scraps and hustles on every play, but still cannot knock down a 15-foot jump shot. If Vesely can get some range on his jumper he will be a much more effective player. Defenses can sag off of him knowing he can’t hit a jumper. Even with his shaky jumper, Vesely can still be an effective energy guy off the bench for the Wiz, but for a 6th overall pick the second or third guy off the bench is not what you expect.
F – Chris Singleton:
Chris Singleton is another player known more for his defense than his offense. Singleton can play both forward positions and is also another good energy guy off the bench. The problem Singleton runs into is the logjam we have at the forward position. There’s only so many minutes to go around and it will be interesting to see how much playing time everyone gets.
F/G – Cartier Martin:
Martin is a very good outside shooter and provides some shooting touch off the bench for the Wiz. Martin runs into the same problem as the rest of the forwards on the team and will be battling for minutes with Singleton, Vesely, and Webster, and occasionally getting some time at SG.
PG – Jannero Pargo:
Pargo will get some key minutes at the start of the season with Wall sidelined. Pargo will get a good run at backup point guard and could even start some depending how A.J. Price plays. Pargo has looked good in preseason action and could very well see just as much action as Price with Wall out.
F/C – Earl Barron:
Earl Barron is a 6 year vet that provides us with another 7-foot body off the bench and is a good defender. His minutes will probably be limited but provides good insurance if Nene or any of our other big guys go down with injury. In his last preseason game against the Spurs, he produced a double double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
PG – John Wall:
We won’t be seeing John Wall suit up for the first month of the season but man am I excited when that moment comes. This off-season he practiced with Team USA which should have showed him how the best of the best practice and prepare for basketball games. At the end of last season he was finding his groove and showed how awesome he can be with the ball in his hands and some quality teammates around him. This season he has some players who can score efficiently and will actually pass the ball back instead of jacking up idiotic shots which should certainly help. Wall is entering his third season and I’m dying to see if he can step up to the plate with a team looking to make the playoffs. Wall has averaged 3.83 turnovers a game through his first two seasons. If he can limit those turnovers and prove that he has improved his lackluster jumper, Wall could make a push for his first All-Star appearance this year. Let’s just hope he hasn’t lost his step when he returns.
F/C – Nene:
Nene will be our starting PF when he returns and his return will be much needed. Nene and Wall are our two best players and both play so well with each other. Nene provides a post presence both offensively and defensively, and last season shows that the Wiz play better with Nene in the lineup. He is a pro in every sense of the word and his presence in the locker room and on the court is very vital to the Wiz success. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that his injury can heal fast and he can stay healthy for the course of the season.
The Wizards goals for the season should be to finish second in the Southeast division and make a trip to the postseason. Miami of course is the toughest team in the division and should take the division crown. Washington will be battling with Atlanta for the second spot in the Southeast as the Magic and the Bobcats are both in major rebuilding projects. Atlanta traded away their top scorer in Joe Johnson and could be in a state of identity crisis. It doesn’t help our two best players are sidelined to start the season, but if we can get by this first month with a few wins and not get into a big hole to start the season, those goals could very well be obtainable.
With all that being said I’m predicting the Wizards to finish with a .500 record and be 41-41, and hopefully that will be good enough to finish 7th in the conference to avoid a first round match-up against the Heat.
Let’s keep our fingers crossed Wiz fans and hope we can return to the playoffs.