For the Washington Wizards, the 2012-13 season should be one of great potential. If each young player can continue developing as an individual and teammate, we could see them take giant leaps in becoming an actual playoff contender.
As of now, this Washington team has a nice combination of experienced role players and budding projects who should mesh pretty well together. With most of the focus this season on creating an identity, the Wizards should make improving these young guys a top priority.
With John Wall and Bradley Beal, Washington has the right pieces in play to throw together one of the most memorable back courts in recent memory. Throw in developing big men Kevin Seraphin and Trevor Booker, and you create a great youthful core with plenty to look forward to.
As for this season, let's check out what the Wizard's young players must improve to reach their full potential.
Jordan Crawford bounced back and forth between a starting position and bench role last season. In this upcoming campaign, he needs to get used to being a potential sixth man for the Wizards.
Based off his ability to put up bulk points, Crawford is the perfect fit off the bench to lead Washington's second unit. He is a score-first guard who has some untapped potential in the passing game.
From the get-go, Bradley Beal should be the starting shooting guard for Washington. While Crawford will come off the bench, that shouldn't undermine his true worth for his team.
A valuable sixth man is often overlooked, but Crawford has an opportunity to shine.
A.J. Price was brought to Washington as a low-risk player to give John Wall some support off the bench. He's not a phenom of any sorts, but currently remains a better option than Shelvin Mack at the point guard position.
In reality, he's not going to torch a team with his scoring ability. He's a below-average scorer with little room for growth.
So just what value does he bring to the Wizards?
With a career average of two assists per game, Price doesn't seem to have that "it" factor at the point guard position. Granted he's never played heavy minutes for a team, he's not super quick and doesn't force defenders to pay much attention to him offensively.
However, if he can learn to run a fluid offense and make proper decisions with the ball, there is no reason he cannot be a regular for Washington off the bench.
I still believe that Jan Vesely can be a household name for NBA fans. At the same time, he seems to be a tweener forward with no sure direction.
With no jump shot or ability to create his own shots, Vesely should put on some pounds and focus on a more realistic power forward role.
Seeing as how his best attribute is his athleticism, looking for him around the basket is an ideal way to get the most out of the slasher. He's a great fast break option, but doesn't necessarily show flashes of strength in the post.
Vesely is actually a pretty solid rebounder, averaging 4.4 a game in his rookie season. He has some leaping ability that allows him to rise above opponents, yet adding that extra muscle would help him crash boards and play physical with stronger forwards.
Martell Webster, Washington's latest signing, brings a a much needed perimeter threat to a team desperately needing one. However, if last year is any indication of what's to come, don't expect much.
The scary thing about Webster is he is coming off a season 34 percent from deep. That's not a exactly a horrid number, but considering he shot 42 percent in the previous year, it might be a cause for concern.
Nonetheless, Webster is a player who can be a nice asset for the Wizards. He is an above-average wing defender and still possesses stellar athleticism for a player with injury history.
For Webster to revamp his career, hitting the long ball is mandatory. If he can't find his touch, don't expect to see him play many minutes for a team with a deep front court.
Fans of the Washington Wizards have to be excited about how Kevin Seraphin progressed in his second season. He has a hulking figure and can really push defenders around in the paint.
Now that his defense and basketball IQ seem to be coming around, working on his post game should be his next venture.
For a player with limited offensive ability, Seraphin still averaged 7.9 points a game on 53 percent shooting last season. To make that even better, he slaughtered teams in the month of March by putting up 15.5 points per contest.
With strength to his advantage, Seraphin should look to post up and force his way to favorable attempts near the basket. Considering he doesn't have much range, he must learn to dominate the paint and draw focus at all times.
The talent is there, yet becoming an absolute machine inside could make him an eventual All-Star big man.
As a rookie, we knew Trevor Booker had some work to do when it came to a jump shot. After some progression in his second season, the power forward is showing plenty of promise in terms of developing into a valuable player.
Booker showed more willingness to take shots from the 16-23 foot range, hitting an improved 34 percent in the process. Upping his ability from other areas on the floor will be vital to his playing time in Washington, if not the difference between a starting and bench role.
While an undersized power forward, Booker makes up for it with remarkable athleticism, hustle and a defensive presence. He doesn't have a true weakness, but could definitely tweak a few aspects of his game to become a more complete threat.
I know a forward doesn't exactly need to be like Steve Nash with the ball, but he should have more ball-handling ability than Dikembe Mutombo.
Ok, maybe he's a tad bit better than that, but the fact remains that being able to put the ball on the floor and getting getting inside the arc would greatly benefit Chris Singleton's game.
Seeing as how he has a strong 6'8" frame, you would like to see him be able to be more than just a three-point shooter. Almost half of Singleton's 4.7 shots came from downtown last season, which is really limiting his true potential.
He's a valuable wing defender who will earn playing time solely from that, but upgrading his offensive skill-set would help him soar.
It all starts with being able to handle the ball for Singleton. If he can learn to do this alone, he can use his size and strength to actually find shot attempts at a more reasonable range.
In college, Shelvin Mack was a deadly three-point shooter who helped lead a surprise Butler team to back-to-back NCAA championship appearances. Now that he's in the NBA, he has a long way to go to be a key role player.
For one, Mack must rely on his shooting range. He doesn't possess the quickness to consistently get to the basket or create his own shot, but has the potential to be a solid spot-up shooter.
Besides that, Mack just isn't good. He's not big, yet doesn't have the handles to be a valid point guard option. Throw in the fact that he's not a very physical player, and there is some serious doubt in whether he can thrive in the NBA.
That being said, he needs to remember he's actually a good shooter from deep, which always draws demand from teams. Mack shot less than one three-pointer a game in his rookie season, but must look for more opportunity to prove his worth.
Bradley Beal will be a top five shooting guard within three years in the NBA. That's not a bold prediction at all considering the scoring ability this guy has.
He's a top notch jump shooter who will torch nets with three-pointers. While he will have plenty of success from deep, being able to create his own shot will propel him to the next level.
If Beal can learn to come off pick-and-rolls and shoot off the dribble effectively, he will be an unstoppable scoring threat fairly soon. He has the quickness and athleticism to get to the rim, but it will obviously take some time for him to put everything together.
Luckily for Beal, he will play with a point guard who can help him find many opportunities. With John Wall at the helm, he will be able to develop at his own pace with little pressure on his shoulders.
If Beal's NBA Summer League performance says anything about him, he is going to be a major star in this league. With averages of 17.6 points and 4.6 rebounds, we have only witnessed a glimpse of what this combo guard brings to the table.
By simply looking at Wall's statistics over his first two seasons, you could see a few obvious things he needs to do to reach his full potential.
Considering he turns the ball over an absurd 3.8 times per game, you could throw in decision-making as a key fix. However, a revamped and maturing roster should help fix that.
With new targets and reliable options, Wall should be able to utilize his teammates for which will take a large amount of pressure off his shoulders.
That leaves us with his shaky jumper.
Wall is an extremely explosive point guard who can get to the rim at will, but can't bury a 15-foot shot with consistency. Working on his range will make him a better scoring threat as well as drawing more attention away from the basket.
Even for a point guard, shooting 42 percent from the field is disappointing. If Wall wants to take his team to the next level, a better shot selection is a must.