Every Washington Wizards fan remembers the infamous 12-game losing streak the team started the season out on last year.
Without John Wall in the lineup, Washington floundered out of the gate, going 3-23 in the team's first 26 games.
While having Wall (presumably) healthy to start the season will certainly help the Wizards get off to a strong start, they also will need to find ways to get over these hurdles if they hope to finish above .500 this season and make the playoffs.
Not the underdog
It seemed that in almost every game last season against a half-decent team, the Wizards were considered the underdog.
That won't be the case this season.
Odds makers and fellow NBA teams know what Wall is capable of, especially when he is healthy along with shooting guard Bradley Beal.
The Wizards stormed back in the second half of the 2012-13 season when Wall returned to the lineup, almost finishing as a .500 team when Wall played.
Now teams know what to expect, and they know that the Wizards will not only play strong defense, backed by center Emeka Okafor, but they will know to focus on guarding Wall and Beal.
As the underdog, the Wizards were able to upset both of these teams at various points throughout the year.
But this season, other coaches will know what to expect and will know to not sleep on the Wizards, who will be playing with one of their best lineups in years.
Injuries will always be a concern for any team.
Keeping a team's No. 1 and No. 2 stars on the court will always lead to at least some success, but injuries seem to have been a problem for the Wizards more so than any other Eastern Conference team.
Wall has an obvious injury history after missing the first half of the season last year, Beal missed increments of games at the end of the season for various injuries, power forward Nenê is notorious for getting hurt and newcomer stretch 4 Al Harrington hasn't played in all 82 games since the 2002-03 season.
Rookie Otto Porter already missed some time in the Summer League with an injury as well.
Avoiding injury is partially blind luck and partially having a good training staff.
With the addition of Harrington, Nenê should play less minutes. And Wall seems to have recovered just fine from his knee problems.
But if one of the starters goes down in the first few games, it could bring Washington's high hopes to a halt.
Chemistry with Al Harrington and rest of the roster
Although the Wizards were quiet for most of the offseason, they did make some noise by signing Harrington to stretch the floor.
But when he is on the court, the Wizards will have to decide who to take off and who to pair with Harrington.
Starting small forward Martell Webster was Washington's leading three-point shooter last season, but Harrington is mainly a three-point shooter as well, averaging five three-point attempts per game during the 2011-12 season with the Denver Nuggets.
Beal also attempted about three three-pointers per game in his rookie year.
Head coach Randy Wittman will have to decide whether Harrington should come off the bench—and share minutes with the other big scorers Wall and Beal—or stretch the floor and keep low-post scorers Nenê and/or Okafor on the court.
It will be a balancing act for sure, but having Harrington on the floor in general gives the Wizards a new dimension they have lacked in the past.
Getting Otto Porter experience
Porter had a really subpar Summer League, only shooting 30 percent from the floor, but had a fantastic collegiate career at Georgetown.
The rookie could really use some floor time to get his feet wet in the NBA, but he'll be coming off the court behind Webster at small forward.
If Porter continues to struggle shooting, Washington will need to decide if getting Porter more experience is more important than winning immediately.
Veteran Trevor Ariza is another small forward option who is capable of shooting threes, so Porter will be fighting for minutes against him as well.
The Wizards have constantly relied on young talent in the past three seasons or so, but if they truly want to make a playoff push, and Porter's development is holding them back, he may need to get less minutes than originally anticipated.
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