Previewing the 2014-15 Washington Wizards


Sep 29, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards forward Nene (42), Wizards guard John Wall (2), Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3), and Wizards forward Paul Pierce (34) joke while posing for a portrait during Wizards Media Day at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

People laughed at me last season when I said the Wizards would make the playoffs in the East. Those same people won’t do it again this season as the Wiz Kids proved themselves last season as legitimate contenders for the Eastern Conference Finals.

Yes, they lost Trevor Ariza, one of the best defenders in the NBA who also came on as an incredibly efficient three-point shooter (40.7 percent from three last year). And yes, Bradley Beal is expected to miss nearly two months with a fractured wrist.

But, this team that was once called too young and inexperienced, is experienced and aged perfectly to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals this season.

John Wall has improved each season in every facet of the game entering his fifth season in the NBA. He’s Derrick Rose-like driving into the paint, quick enough to keep up with any guard in the league defensively and has shown he can run an offense that can score buckets on most teams in the league. He’s coming off a season where he played and started every game for the first time in his career, so he knows what it takes to play an entire season.

With Beal out, head coach Randy Wittman will look to fan favorite Glen Rice, Jr. and Garrett Temple to fill the two spot. Rice has shown extreme talent and flashes of offensive greatness in the Summer League (2014 Vegas League MVP) and early parts of the preseason, while Temple has shown he can play solid defense when called upon.

Once Beal comes back however, the third-year guard will look to improve upon his 40 percent mark from beyond the arc and .419 overall field goal percentage from a year ago.

Paul Pierce will look to pick up where Ariza left off last year, but his body probably won’t let him put up equal numbers. However, his leadership, toughness and experience should go a long way in the locker room and on the court.

Nene brings another added toughness down low. When he puts his shoulder down, he’s almost unstoppable driving to the rim. His passing ability also makes him a key weapon on give-and-go’s. Last season, he averaged 5.1 assists per 100 possessions.

Ernie Grunfeld also retained the Polish Hammer, Marcin Gortat. Gortat was the first true talented center that Washington had in a very long time. His mid-range game (42.5 percent from 10-16 feet last season) helps stretch the defense and allows players like Nene and Wall to crash the paint.

The bench will be key for the Wizards this season.

Andre Miller and new signee John Lucas III bring a versatile mix to the backup point guard position. Miller can school just about any guard on the block, while Lucas III brings a more explosive, outside game to the table (45.5 percent on two’s from 16+ feet last season).

Wittman will lean heavily toward last year’s third overall pick Otto Porter this season. Porter played in just 37 games last season and averaged just 8.9 minutes in those contests. He shot just .190 from three and just .363 from the field overall last season, as many fans were quick to label him a bust. However in the Vegas League this summer, the Georgetown product averaged 19 points and 5.8 rebounds on 48 percent shooting (

Down low, Kevin Seraphin will compete with Kris Humpries to back up Gortat, while DeJuan Blair and Drew Gooden, now Drew Gooden III, will look to fill the void left by the departure of Trevor Booker.

Blair should fit nicely into the rotation. The former Pitt Panther star averages a career field goal percentage of .531 on all two-pointers and has shot over .400 in his career from 3-to-10 feet. While his size (6-foot-7) can pose as a liability defensively, his heart is unquestioned.

Many will be quick to say that Cleveland is going to win the East, or that the Wizards are far behind the Cavs, Bulls, and maybe still the Heat to get to the conference finals this year, but with a good balance of experience and offensive and defensive talent, Randy Wittman has to like what he has heading into the 2014-15 season.

–All stats gathered from