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Washington Wizards

Division: SoutheastGM: Ernie GrunfeldHead Coach: Randy Wittman
2012-13: 29-53 (12th in East)vs. division 5-11
Points93.2 (28th)
Rebounds43.2 (9th)
Assists21.6 (19th)
FG %.435 (27th)

Wizards weaving some Magic?

CHOOSE YOUR TEAM

Eastern Conference Atlanta Hawks Boston Celtics Brooklyn Nets Charlotte Bobcats Chicago Bulls Cleveland Cavaliers Detroit Pistons Indiana Pacers Miami Heat Milwaukee Bucks New York Knicks Orlando Magic Philadelphia 76ers Toronto Raptors washington wizards


Western Conference Dallas Mavericks Denver Nuggets Golden State Warriors Houston Rockets LA Clippers LA Lakers Memphis Grizzlies Minnesota Timberwolves New Orleans Pelicans Oklahoma City Thunder Phoenix Suns Portland Trail Blazers Shaqramento Kings San Antonio Spurs Utah Jazz

(The Sports Network) The tale of the 2012-13 Washington Wizards reads in two parts.

The first part was the 5-28 start, which included a 12-game losing streak to begin the campaign.

The second part was the 24-25 finish.

The date of the turnaround came on Jan. 12. For it was on that date, John Wall returned to the Wizards lineup.

After missing the first two months of the season with an odd left knee injury, Wall came back and led the Wiz toward respectability.

Once he returned, Wall was magnificent. Averaging almost five minutes per game less than his first two seasons, Wall posted a career-high 18.5 ppg. His assist numbers were down a bit, although his 44 percent from the field was a personal best.

Wall was rewarded with a max contract in the offseason, befitting the former No. 1 overall pick.

Armed with the new, huge deal for the leader/superstar, and a .500 record for a good portion of last season, the Wizards are speaking a word rarely mentioned about the basketball team in the nation's capital - playoffs.

Who's In/Who's Out

Key Additions: Marcin Gortat, Al Harrington, Eric Maynor, Otto Porter Jr., Glen Rice Jr.

Key Losses: A.J. Price, Leandro Barbosa, Jason Collins

Analysis: Picking Porter Jr. third made perfect sense for the Wizards. He has a local connection having gone to college at Georgetown and will fit in well with the Wizards young core once he resumes palying after being sidelined with a hip flexor strain. He has great length for the wing, a great mid-range game and is a good facilitator. And, outside of Victor Oladipo who went just before him, Porter he might be the 2013 draft's most sure thing. The Wizards also added Glen Rice Jr. in a draft day deal with the 76ers. While there are character issues, Rice has a lot of upside and could turn into a solid player for the Wizards.

Round 1 3rd overall Ottor Porter Jr. SF Georgetown
Round 2* 35th overall (via PHI) Glen Rice Jr. SG D-League

The Good

The Wizards have a bucketful of young talent and that all starts with Wall. He is as quick as any guard in the NBA. He has flaws like outside shooting, but when he penetrates, and gets headed toward the basket, he's unstoppable. Wall is the leader of this team now, especially after the gigantic contract.

Wall will reportedly write the word "playoffs" on all of his sneakers for each game this season to keep the Wizards focused.

Beal enjoyed a very good rookie season in 2012-13. He averaged 13.9 ppg and shot 38 percent from long range. Beal made the All-Rookie first team last season, but missed 26 games with a myriad of injuries. With a full season alongside Wall, Beal could be in for a big season.

SOUTHEAST PICKS


Heat (65-17)

Still The Champs


Hawks (45-37)

Mid-Low Playoff Seed


Wizards (40-42)

Youth Making Strides


Bobcats (25-57)

It Could Be Worse


Magic (24-58)

We Want Wiggins

Throw Porter Jr. into that mix and the Wizards appear to have their core of the future in place.

The Wizards also made a late pres-season splash acquiring Marcin Gortat from the Suns. Gortat is a quality centre and could push the Wizards over the top in their quest for the playoffs.

They also have a relatively solid bench unit.

Trevor Ariza and Trevor Booker are both solid bench producers and Eric Maynor is a very quality backup point guard. Rice Jr. should also provide some long-range shooting off the bench, something this team really needed.

The Not So Good

The Wizards suffered a major blow, especially defensively, when it was announced Emeka Okafor, the team's starting center, has a herniated disc in his neck and will be out indefinitely.

That's a huge loss for Washington. Okafor was part of a plan, not just on the court, but off. In recent years, the Wizards jettisoned several immature players to improve the culture of the franchise. A hard-working professional like Okafor will still be around since the team's growth off the court goes a long way to its improvement on it.

Gortat is a better offensive player, but Okafor's defence will still be missed.

Nene meanwhile is a very good player when healthy but he has also had his share of issues over the course of his NBA career and is tough to rely on for a full season of production. Backup forward Chris Singleton is also out with a borken foot, so many more injuries and any post-season plans the Wizards had could easily be gone before they get off the ground.

 

Wizards Depth Chart

Power Forward

Nenê
Trevor Booker
Al Harrington
Jan Vesely

Center

Emeka Okafor
Kevin Seraphin

Small Forward

Otto Porter Jr.
Trevor Ariza

Shooting Guard

Bradley Beal
Martell Webster
Chris Singleton
Glen Rice Jr.

Point Guard

John Wall
Eric Maynor
Garrett Temple

What To Expect

Will they, or won't they?

With a healthy Okafor, the Wizards are probably a playoff team. The Eastern Conference is top-heavy with the Miami Heat, Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers.

Those other three spots are up for grabs. Is Washington right there with the Atlanta Hawks, Detroit Pistons, Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors? Absolutely, but that's if the progression continues.

Wall and Beal have to continue their trend toward elite guards. The bench has to provide something and Okafor's replacement has to rebound and defend.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle is tempering expectations. But with Gortat now on board it is apparently playoffs or bust in Washington.


Game 1: Nets at Raptors (TSN)

Sunday at Noon et/9am pt


NBA on TSN Broadcast Schedule


Western Conference

(1) SA v (8) DAL (4) HOU v (5) POR
(2) OKC v (7) MEM (3) LAC v (4) GS


Eastern Conference

(1) IND v (8) ATL (4) CHI v (5) WSH
(2) MIA v (7) CHA (3) TOR v (6) BKN


Playoff Schedule/Game-By-Game Breakdown



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