Biggest Issues Washington Wizards Must Address This Offseason
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The Wizards struggled this season once again, finishing the year with a 29-53 record, and rounding out the year with a six-game losing streak.
While John Wall and Bradley Beal provided the majority of the excitement for Wizards fans, it certainly wasn't enough to overshadow the glaring problems this team still has.
These weaknesses much be addressed in the offseason if Washington wants any chance of having a winning season for the first time in five years.
The more glaring the weakness, the more of a necessity it is for Washington to fix it. These weaknesses come in the form of poor play at a certain position, to all-around performance in a certain facet of the game by the roster.
Especially with the NBA draft coming up in a few months, the Wizards will have a young core to build around, but they first must recognize the main problems this team has before they can even think about contending for a playoff position.
No. 5: Small Forward
Although Martell Webster is much improved since John Wall returned to the lineup from injury, small forward is still a position of concern for the Wizards.
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Although Martell Webster just finished the best season of his career in 2013, averaging over 11 points per game and shooting 44 percent from the floor, the Wizards would be wise to address the small forward position in the offseason.
Webster's contract is up, but the Wizards look like they are going to try to re-sign Webster.
He is also 26, and has essentially reached the peak of his potential in the NBA at this point.
His numbers greatly increased when John Wall came back to the team after missing the first part of the season with injury, but so did the rest of the Wizards' roster.
That isn't to say Webster can't be a starter on this team next year, he certainly has the talent, but there is certainly the question of how many years he can keep up that production, given his struggles in previous years.
Behind Webster is Trevor Ariza.
Ariza will likely be returning with the Wizards, after saying he won't opt out of his contract early.
Ariza is 27, and his points, rebounds and assists all went down this year.
He is a valuable asset to have for the Wizards coming off the bench, but he would be a questionable starter should Webster not return.
Webster and Ariza are both solid small forwards, but it would be wise for Washington to pick up a younger small forward in free agency or the draft to have in the event that Ariza or Webster start to decline.
No. 4: Backup Shooting Guard
Shooting guard Bradley Beal sustained a number of injuries this season, and ended up missing the last few weeks of the season entirely.
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There is no doubt that Bradley Beal is the shooting guard of the future for the Wizards, but with constant injuries Washington should look for another option to backup Beal.
Right now, Garrett Temple has been starting in place of Beal.
In 36 starts, Temple is only averaging five points and two assists per game.
In all, Beal missed 26 games this season with three different injuries, most recently a stress injury to his right fibula.
Had he been healthy all season, Beal could have likely contended for the Rookie of the Year award.
At just 19, it's impossible to tell how Beal's health will be in the coming years, but Washington cannot afford to have Temple starting when Beal cannot.
Trevor Ariza was a much better player coming off the bench this year for the team at small forward, but there was no one who could truly fill in at shooting guard when Beal was down.
When Beal was out, the pressure was on Wall to account for nearly all of the offense.
Should Beal continue to sustain injuries, getting a quality backup would greatly take the load off of Wall.
No. 3: Offensive Rebounding
Emeka Okafor (left) was the best offensive rebounder for Washington this year, but is the only Wizard to break the top 50 in the league in that category.
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While the Wizards finished eighth in the league in defense, and they were able to pull down rebounds on defensive end, offensive rebounding was a serious problem for Washington.
With the poor shooting percentage that Washington has, it is incredibly important for them to pull down rebounds on the offensive side to generate some second chances.
Emeka Okafor was the team's leading offensive rebounder, averaging two-and-a-half offensive rebounds per game.
However, there was no one else on the team who made the top 50 in the NBA in offensive rebounding.
The next-best player in offensive rebounds is Trevor Booker who averaged two per game, but Booker only started 14 games this season.
Zach Randolph of the Memphis Grizzlies, who played in 76 games this year and averaged over four offensive rebounds per game—which led the league.
Offense was a problem for the Wizards this year, and offensive rebounding would certainly be a step in the right direction in bettering the team's offense.
No. 2: Power Forward
Nenê was the starting power forward for the majority of the year for the Wizards, but Washington could afford to pick up another option in free agency or the draft.
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While Nenê started the majority of games for Washington this year, power forward is still a major need the Wizards need to fix in the offseason.
When healthy, Nenê was one of the better players on the court—he was often hurt.
He missed the last few games of the season with injury, and the pain was so bad he even considered retirement from the game.
Nenê is due $39 million over the next three seasons, but he is already 30.
His numbers were down in points, blocks and rebounds this year, and backing him up is Trevor Booker, Cartier Martin and Jan Veselý.
Out of those three players, no one is averaging more than six-and-a-half points per game.
While Martin's contract expires at this end of this year, Veselý and Booker will still be around.
Veselý has no place getting any more than ten minutes per game on this roster, and someone should be brought in to fill in for Nenê as he ages.
The center position seems solid with Emeka Okafor and Kevin Seraphin, but Washington could use another big man to sure up the frontcourt with Nenê aging.
No. 1: Shooting Percentage
Although John Wall was the best shooter on the team this year for the Wizards, he still shot below 50 percent from the floor.
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Going hand-in-hand with offensive rebounding, shooting percentage plagued the Wizards' offense this year.
No one on the team shot better than 50 percent from the floor, giving them a 43.4 shooting percentage this year, which is one of the lowest in the Eastern Conference.
There are other players who have a better shooting percentage than John Wall, but no one shot nearly as often.
For example, Jan Veselý has been shooting exactly 50 percent from the floor, but he only attempts two shots per game.
Both Wall and Bradley Beal have issues with taking low-percentage shots as well, which contributes to the poor team percentage.
Whether this can be solved via the draft, or if it is just something that coaches need to focus on in the offseason with current players, it is something that needs to be addressed if Washington wants to take that next step.
While Emeka Okafor is the best defensive player for Washington, the Wizards could still use a backup center.
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Center: Although Emeka Okafor excelled at center this year for Washington and led them on defense, he may only be around for one more year.
He isn't cutting his contract short, but his contract will expire at the end of next year. Okafor is also aging, and his offensive production has been declining over the years.
This isn't an immediate need, but Washington should consider getting a young center to play behind Okafor and Kevin Seraphin, as quality centers are hard to come by.
Turnovers: Turnovers weren't nearly as much of a problem as they were last year for the Wizards, but some of the stars for Washington turned the ball over far too much.
John Wall averaged over three turnovers per game, which is down from last year but is still too high.
There were also two players who averaged two or more turnovers per game, and 10 who averaged one or more.
Turnovers aren't plaguing the Wizards, but cutting down on them would certainly be an improvement.