The 5 Most Pivotal Players for the Washington Wizards Next Season

Eric Johnson@<a href="https://twitter.com/EJisLegend" class="twitter-follow-button" data-show-count="false">Follow @EJisLegend</a> <script>!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="//platCorrespondent IIIOctober 11, 2012

The 5 Most Pivotal Players for the Washington Wizards Next Season

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    The Washington Wizards have plenty of variables that will decide their fate in the upcoming season. However, they do have the potential to crack the playoffs if all goes well.

    This, of course, depends a lot of just how their pivotal players perform together.

    With a rather new look, Washington has some nice pieces who all bring something vital to the team. A young, and possibly deadly, back court will look promising next to the newly-acquired big men inside. The aspect of a proper rotation and progression could help the Washington Wizards shoot up the standings compared to last season.

    More than anything, the Wizards should focus on developing their budding players into formidable contributors. With depth and youth almost everywhere, Washington is on the right tracks in terms of becoming a more realistic contender in the near future.

    However, that doesn't mean they can't sneak up and snag a playoff berth this season. For that to happen, look for these players to have big seasons for Washington.

5. Bradley Beal

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    Bradley Beal is going to be a special player once he hits his peak. As for now, the young shooting guard should focus on getting comfortable in the NBA, along with adjusting to a different style of play offensively.

    While undersized, Beal is a strong rebounder with the skill set to become a true combo guard. He is obviously a scoring threat, but can handle the ball and rebound to complement that.

    The interesting thing about him is the constant player comparisons he's drawn. From deadly shooter Ray Allen to the explosive Eric Gordon, this just shows that Beal has the potential to be a very strong player for years to come.

    With his team unlikely to make a serious championship run anytime soon, Beal is in the perfect position to worry about evolving into a star. If his NBA Summer League numbers of 17.6 points and 4.6 rebounds a games prove anything, he won't take long to make himself a household name for fans.

    Working on his shot selection as well as his defense will help his progression, but that shouldn't alter his ability to make a strong impact in his rookie season for Washington.

4. Emeka Okafor

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    Washington's defense was just plain awful last season. Even with JaVale McGee manning the middle, they looked unorganized and unwilling to consistently make stops on that end of the floor.

    With Emeka Okafor, that instantly changes.

    Okafor was drafted high in the 2004 NBA Draft for a couple of reasons: He's extremely strong and plays great defense inside. Even if his contract is expensive, the center will provide a force for Washington in the paint.

    Along with Trevor Ariza, the Wizards did pick up a few pieces that will improve their unsatisfactory defense. Okafor won't provide the highlight blocks of a McGee, but will be a bruising defender who pulls in rebounds.

    His move to Washington was one that should have received a lot more attention than it did. If he can prove his effect on the defensive end of the floor, Okafor will be a major factor in a potential playoff spot in the near future.

3. Jordan Crawford

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    The ability to put out a worthy sixth man is vital for a team. For the Washington Wizards, Jordan Crawford must be this guy.

    With Beal likely to start when ready, Crawford is a perfect guy for any team to bring off the bench. He's a pure scorer who can be a strong leader of a second unit. He has some noticeable kinks in his game, but nothing that can't be fixed with some altercations.

    The one thing that stands out is his likelihood to pass the ball. Crawford is a capable passer; however, he hardly shows it in games. If he can find the balance of distribution and scoring, Washington will have one of the more recognizable sixth men in the NBA.

    No matter what role Crawford plays this season, he must put more effort into both his defense and offensive flow. He's young, but has a high ceiling in terms of just what he can accomplish in this league.

2. Nene

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    It's intriguing to consider what Nene brings to the table for Washington. Throughout his first 10 seasons in the NBA, he has been a consistent player on the court when healthy, along with a great work ethic.

    The biggest question surrounding Nene's presence in Washington has to be if he's the right big man to build around. At the age of 30, the Brazilian isn't necessarily in his prime, but remains a nice offensive target who will run the floor well.

    Nene isn't the strongest defender in paint. He's a smart player, but is grounded in terms of leaping and rebounding ability. However, he does bring energy in his game that should help improve the Wizards' lackluster defense immediately.

    Odds are favoring Nene starting at the power forward position with Emeka Okafor in town. This is a role that will fit his game better and allow him to be a more forceful player when called upon.

    Like it or not, this guy is locked in for four more years on his sizable contract. If he stays healthy and meshes well with his teammates, Nene will be a valuable player in Washington.

1. John Wall

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    Not only is John Wall the future of the Washington Wizards, but he is at the point in his career that he should be developing into his potential. If he can do this, there is an outside shot that he could lead this team to a playoff berth soon enough.

    Unfortunately for Wall, he has already been sidelined due to a knee injury. However, his elite athletic ability and young age should allow him to come back in solid form when ready.

    Washington is in dire need of a big season from Wall. Pairing him with Beal in the back court should help give him another reliable option, but these guys will likely take some time to develop great chemistry.

    Look for Wall to take his time in coming back from his injury. Jumping back into action without a full recovery will only create more risk factors in his current and future production.

    When Wall is able to return, it wouldn't be surprising to see him put up All-Star caliber numbers. He's quick, strong and ultra-talented—now let's see if he can bring it all together.