To say that the Washington Wizards have struggled for the last several years is an understatement. Perhaps no team in the NBA has played as poorly as Washington over the last four seasons—the Wizards have averaged only 22 wins per year since 2008-2009.
But in 2012, things are looking up. The Wizards have more talent than they have had in recent years, and John Wall and company could make a run at the playoffs. A championship is probably a few years in the offing, but the Wizards have enough to make the postseason. Here are three reasons why the Wiz will be playing past game 82 this season.
The interior defense will be dominant.
The addition of Emeka Okafor gives the Wizards something they haven't had in a very, very long time—a dominant, defensive-minded presence in the middle of the paint that can alter shots and pile up blocks. Nene isn't half bad at defense himself and the size of the two players will make the Wizards a force to be reckoned with in the middle.
For a team that ranked 20th in the NBA last season in points allowed, the improvement will be very noticeable. Okafor alone could give this team a boost in the rankings. It will be one of the most improved units in the entire league. The Wizards have been terrible defensively for years, so it will be a welcome change.
With more talent around him, John Wall will finally take the next step as a star point guard.
John Wall averaged around 16 points and eight assists last season, but his numbers didn't tell the whole story. He often looked uncomfortable and never seemed to have a consistent flow to his game. And his shooting...oh his shooting. John Wall established himself as one of the worst shooters in the NBA last season, only showing an ability to drive to the hoop.
But a lot of Wall's struggles could be attributed to the fact that he was the only real offensive threat on a terrible offensive team. Wall's next best option was probably Jordan Crawford, who approached being historically inefficient when it came to shooting the ball.
The additions of Trevor Ariza and Bradley Beal, as well as the improved game of Jan Vesely, will give Wall several more options than last year. That will open up the lane for him, and allow him to take more open jump shots. After returning from his injury, look for Wall to have the best season of his career.
There is depth across the board.
The Wizards have an underrated amount of depth coming in to 2012. Just look at the bench: the monstrous Trevor Booker (the team's nickname for him is Grown-Ass Man), the surprisingly versatile Kevin Seraphin (who played ridiculously well down the stretch last season), Chris Singleton (a defensive specialist), Jordan Crawford and Shelvin Mack.
The talent isn't elite on the bench, but it is able. In fact, Seraphin, Booker, Singleton, Mack, and Crawford all started at some point in 2011. That alone makes this bench a very unique and dangerous group of players. It will serve the Wizards very well, especially if they make the playoffs.