USA TODAY Sports
The Wizards have a strong core going into next season.
Last season, the Washington Wizards and Toronto Raptors broke even against each other, splitting the series 1-1.
It’s likely to stay that way next season.
Much like the Raptors, the Wizards have kept their core together amongst the chaos of this NBA offseason.
However, unlike the Raptors, they had the No. 3 pick in this year’s NBA draft, which they used on Georgetown forward Otto Porter.
Assuming he starts right away, Washington's starting lineup will likely include John Wall, Bradley Beal, Porter, Nene and Emeka Okafor.
That’s a well-rounded lineup.
Of course, at the center of all this is point guard extraordinaire John Wall, who put up some crazy numbers at the end of last season—20.7 points, 7.8 assists, 4.5 rebounds with a 44.7 field-goal percentage after the All-Star break, via ESPN.com.
Wall should only be better next season, and with a full training camp (assuming Beal and Nene are healthy), this team looks to be a solid playoff contender. The Wizards haven’t made any flashy moves this offseason as of yet, but with their talented roster, they may not have to.
When the Raptors match up with this team, they likely won’t have an answer for Wall, but then again, not many teams will.
Where they can excel is inside the paint.
Nene and Okafor are big, but they had trouble staying healthy last year. Their games are also declining with age (only 27.2 minutes per game for Nene and 8.8 rebounds for Okafor this season, well below both of their career averages), meaning Valanciunas should be able to do some damage from the post.
Throw in the Raptors’ more experienced wing players, and Toronto should have a slight advantage over the Wizards, providing Valanciunas can do enough to offset Wall’s brilliance.