Who's New?: F Kelly Oubre (draft), F Jared Dudley (trade), F Alan Anderson (free agent), G Gary Neal (free agent), G Ish Smith (free agent)
Who's Gone?: F Paul Pierce (free agent), C Kevin Seraphin (free agent), G Will Bynum (free agent)
Off-season Grade: C+. We'll need to wait and see what kind of pro Oubre turns into to evaluate this long term, but the Wiz did fortify their bench this past summer. If Otto Porter Jr. continues his ascent, then they really won't have lost much with Pierce moving on.
2015-16 Slogan: "You guys, did you know they give you *THREE* points from shooting from behind this line?"
What Else Is New?: Former Wizard Caron "Tuff Juice" Butler (who's incidentally the first NBA'er I ever interviewed and couldn't have been a nicer guy) recently released a memoir. In the book he relayed his account of a rather unpleasant incident in Wizards/Bullets lore involving Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton.
I didn't panic because I'd been through far worse, heard gunshots more times than I could count, and seen it all before. This would have been just another day on the south side.
I talked calmly to Javaris, reminding him that his entire career, not to mention, perhaps, his life, would be over if he flicked that trigger finger.
I looked back at Gilbert. He was silent as he removed himself from the scene.
After the excerpt became news, Arenas disputed Butler's version of the events on an Instagram post (WARNING: Adult language), which he later deleted. Crittenton, meanwhile, turned out to be every bit the problem child this incident foretold. He's in prison now.
On the bright side, they weren't the most underachieving team in their sport this past season, with players openly fighting one another on the bench and their team nickname isn't an unspeakable racial slur, so they've got that going for them.
Also, the club has released a new logo that does not, in fact, have a Wizard on it but does kind of look like a butt. Now you might think the logo stinks or is behind the times, but the straight poop is that it's hardly bringing up the rear for all team logos in the league and might in fact be the number two logo in the Southeast Division.
Your Likely Starters:
C Marcin Gortat
PF Kris Humphries
SF Otto Porter
SG Bradley Beal
PG John Wall
Two of my favorite players in the league here in Gortat and Wall but also a couple of major question marks at forward make the Wizards a hard to team to attach many expectations to.
Wall to me is as good as it gets in the East at point, and you can count Jesus Gomez and I as part of the fringe minority who prefer him to Kyrie Irving because of his defense, playmaking and durability. Naturally he hurt his wrist and hand in the playoffs (the Wiz would've likely made the Conference Finals if he were healthy). The only hole in Wall's game remains his ultra inconsistent three-point shot, but his mid-range game is actually pretty solid.
Gortat, the self-described "gazelle," (ahem) is a pick-and-roll specialist who's been very consistent for the Wiz but criminally under-utilized. He's a rugged, durable pro and decent-not-great defender who hasn't been able to show the full extent of his talents sharing the paint with Nene these past couple of seasons. Supposedly that's going to change this season.
There is some concern that Beal has plateaued as a player. Both Randy Wittman's offense and Beal's shot selection within it were maddening at times last year. 40 percent of his field goal attempts were long twos even though he's been a lousy mid-range shooter. The frustrating part is he actually shot 40 percent from downtown. Just back up, you know? Beal has to find a way to get to the basket more because he finishes at a really strong clip when he gets there. His free throw rate is borderline embarrassing.
Speaking of embarrassing, the Wizards are going to try Humphries, a fellow more known for his short-lived marriage than for his play, as a starter. It's quite an accomplishment to come off as less likable than Kim Kardashian, yet here we are. Coming off the successful playoff experiment of Pierce as a stretch-four in the playoffs, the Wiz want to keep the lane open this season, but Humphries hasn't made a three since he was a rookie in 2004-05. He is 3-of-10 so far in preseason, for what it's worth. Frankly I'll be stunned if he lasts half the year as a starter.
Then there's Porter, an NBA2K glitch come to life.
His career has progressed nicely from "all-time bust" as a rookie to "huge disappointment" in his second regular season to "hey, not bad" in the playoffs. I don't know if he'll ever be able to shoot well enough form outside to stick, but as a rangy defender and rebounder, he can be an asset, as long as he's surrounded by scorers.
Your Likely Bench:
F Jared Dudley
G Gary Neal
F Alan Anderson
G Ramon Sessions
F Drew Gooden
G Ish Smith
F Kelly Oubre
Some spotty starters to be sure, but this bench is loaded. Nene didn't fit well with Gortat and pretty much has quit rebounding at this stage of his career, but as a backup big he should be dominant in small doses. Dudley's slowed down some and gotten too, uh, let's say bulky to be polite, but he's still an adequate "3-and-D" guy and can guard opposing stretch fours. He's gonna miss the first month recovering from back surgery though. Neal we know about, he's our generation's Microwave, though obviously not quite as good. Easy Bake Oven? He'll be a good option for them when the offense is in a rut. Anderson was a smart signing. He's insurance in case Porter just flames out and Oubre isn't ready to contribute. Ideally though he'd never play. Gooden is similar to Humphries, but an even worse defender. I can't believe he's still in the league, especially after shooting 40 percent as a "power forward," but hey, 39 percent from deep. Sessions joined the team midway through last season and played well, but he was stretched in relief of the injured Wall in the playoffs. He'll be trying to hold off Smith, who's younger and faster. Sessions is the superior shooter, while Smith is the superior playmaker.
It's fair to say the Wiz have some irons in the small-forward fire. Porter you know about. They traded for Oubre, a 19-year-old out of Kansas. He's skilled, but raw as hell. Oh, and there's some guy in Oklahoma City they're rumored to be interested in. On the end of the depth chart are three-point specialist Martell Webster and former Spurs Garrett Temple and DeJuan Blair. One or more won't make the team.
Your Coach: Randy Wittman
A true X's and O's mastermind, Wittman is finally taking the reins off the team's strangled offense and the Wizards will reportedly run more this year and shoot more threes rather than long twos at the end of the shot clock. The coaching staff will also collect $100 from Wall every time he commits more than two turnovers in a game, which seems to run counter to the stuff about playing faster and being more unpredictable, but ... do you, Wizards.
Bottom Line: A decent roster, but clearly lacking in front-line talent and light years behind Atlanta in having an established, coherent offensive system, so the Wizards will once again settle for something between a 4-6 seed and seem like underdogs to even make it to the second round.
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