Washington Wizards: 5 Optimistic Predictions for Wizards in the 2012-13 Season
Washington stayed fairly busy this offseason, trading for Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza to add depth to the team. Little by little, the Wizards are piecing together what looks like a competitive team on paper, but also one that could see playoff action in a unstable Eastern Conference.
They will be led by former No. 1 draft pick John Wall, who will look to solidify himself as one of the NBA's elite point guards. A lot of Washington's success will fall right on his shoulders, but he brings his best supporting cast of players yet this season.
After drafting a potential All-Star in Bradley Beal, the Wizards have become a team to watch in the near future. With a lot of optimism heading forward, here are five predictions for Washington.
John Wall Becomes an NBA All-Star
With Derrick Rose missing most of the upcoming season due to injury, that opens up an All-Star spot for another Eastern Conference guard. While we will likely see Rajon Rondo or Deron Williams make the list, John Wall will put up the statistics to land him a spot as well.
Statistically, Wall didn't improve at all in his second year in the NBA. In fact, he was fairly disappointing with his progression. Now with some solid supporting players and more experience under his belt, expect him to explode next season.
Being one of the most athletic point guards in the league, Wall possess the size and athleticism to do great things on both offense and defense.
He's a quick player who can be a nightmare in transition, but needs to work out knocking down basic jumpers. Wall can dish assists and could end up averaging at least 10 a game with a solid scorer in Nene to feed inside.
Wall will learn to utilize his new teammates and ultimately put up an All-Star worthy season.
Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor Will Greatly Improve Team Defense
Trading for Emeka Okafor alone makes Washington's defense much better. While he's not a threat offensively, he can be a bruising rebounder and stopper inside the paint.
JaVale McGee had plenty of potential and could swat shots at will, but he was inconsistent and made way too many mental mistakes for a big man. Okafor is more of a fundamentally sound player who will compliment his team better by doing dirty work inside.
Trevor Ariza received a prematurely big contract from the Houston Rockets, yes, but he remains a valuable role player. His biggest asset comes on the defensive end where he is a great pressure defender who can create turnovers.
New Orleans is in complete rebuild mode after moving on from Chris Paul, so it was expected to see these guys traded. These two might not be the best long-term solutions, but will be effective will in Washington.
Bradley Beal Wins Rookie of the Year
If not Anthony Davis, Bradley Beal will become the best player in this NBA draft class. He's a smart player with the athleticism to give him unlimited opportunities as a player, but will be a factor from his first game in the league.
Beal is a natural scorer who can really put up big numbers from downtown. He has never shown hesitance in making a play and should be the perfect combo guard to play next to John Wall.
Look for the former Gator to help spread the offensive attack for Washington as he will learn to penetrate the lane as well as knock down pull-up jumpers. Beal is also a great rebounder for his size, and will also be a team defender that gives it his all.
Thinking of what Wall and Beal can do together in the future is eye opening. Both are guards who should shine for years to come and eventually make Washington a playoff threat.
For Beal, he has the potential to earn the coveted Rookie of the Year Award this season, as well as stamping his name as an elite scorer within the league.
Jan Vesely Will Become More Than a Dunker
Last year's NBA draft class was rather iffy as far as talent goes. Outside of Kyrie Irving, there wasn't really that standout player who was immediately poised to be an NBA All-Star.
While the decision of drafting Jan Vesely was risky for Washington, he is a project player who will show high upside when he figures out his role for the team.
Vesely is a 6'11" forward with a lanky athletic frame that could use some bulking up. At this point, he could see time at either the power or small forward position, but would benefit from committing to one in order to develop his raw talent.
If he can work on doing more than being a dunk artist, there is no reason Vesely can't become another successful European story in the NBA. Being able to extend his shooting range is a start, but there is so much he can polish up to become a household name.
Vesely has the ability, but should show significant progress in his second season in the league.
Washington Finishes Right Outside of the Playoffs
Let's be honest: at this point, sniffing postseason basketball is possible for Washington, but finishing near the playoff picture would still mark a successful season for the Wizards.
This is a team with two great building pieces in the backcourt, along with some notable players who will prove to be difference makers over the course of the season. If they mesh properly, we could see Washington sneak into the playoffs.
Considering many of the former Eastern Conference contenders are falling apart, it only creates room for others to thrive. Counting Washington out at this point would be a complete mistake.
One interesting thing to watch for Washington is just who steps up to become the all-important third option. If Nene can stay healthy he will continue to put up a sky-high field goal percentage, but will also benefit from having a point guard who can find him at any moment.
Jordan Crawford could also see a big role eventually as a sixth man for the Wizards. He's a player who can produce off the bench by being an energetic spark with scoring capabilities. While the depth for Washington is questionable, they have plenty of young guys looking to earn their spot in the rotation.
This should be a promising season for Washington with a lot of upside based off offseason acquisitions and growing talent. We will see John Wall impress this year, Bradley Beal win Rookie of the Year, and the team finish right around that .500 mark resulting in a great year for the Wizards.