The Biggest Training Camp Mysteries for Washington Wizards

Jonathan Munshaw@@jon_munshawCorrespondent ISeptember 30, 2013

Trevor Ariza is competing for the starting small forward job against incumbent Martell Webster.
Trevor Ariza is competing for the starting small forward job against incumbent Martell Webster.Ned Dishman/Getty Images

The Washington Wizards enter training camp with the most hunger a basketball team in Washington has had in a long time. 

Gone are the apathetic days of Javale McGee and Nick Young, which have been replaced by the fire of younger players. 

But before Washington gets to play a game, it first has to get through training camp and answer quite a few questions before it's safe to call them a contender for a playoff spot. 

So which questions can the Wizards answer in training camp before the season begins on Oct. 30? 


What's the Deal With Jan Vesely?

At this point, it's obvious that Jan Vesely has not been worth the No. 6 overall pick that the Wizards used to take him in 2011.

But that doesn't mean Vesely still can't bring some value to the team. In training camp, Vesely will have to prove that he's worth playing time. At power forward, he's behind Nenê (who could play center with Emeka Okafor out indefinitely), Al Harrington and Trevor Booker. 

Vesely played in just over 11 minutes per game last season, but he is a dark-horse candidate to pick up some of the minutes Okafor's injury leaves behind. 

Training camp will be the best time for Vesely to prove that he can be a quality big man in the NBA. During the 2013 Summer League, Vesely averaged 11.6 points and 6.8 rebounds in five games while shooting 58 percent. Just last year he led the Wizards in field-goal percentage. 

Even if the Wizards don't see him as part of the team's long-term plan, some quality playing time could make him a possible trade piece. 

Looking at the near future, Vesely needs to play better regardless, and Washington should take the time in training camp to examine what his role on the team is. 


Who will Start at Small Forward?

Although Martell Webster seemed like the best candidate to land the starting spot at small forward in the offseason, Trevor Ariza now may have a decent shot at being the leading man. 

On Monday, J. Michael of Comcast SportsNet Washington tweeted that Ariza is the favorite to be the starter after three days in camp. 

If the Wizards want to take the team in a defensive direction, Ariza makes the most sense in this case as he is the better defensive player compared to Webster.

However, the Wizards made Webster the top priority in free agency, re-signing him to a four-year, $22 million deal, so benching him would be a surprising move. 

The argument for Webster as starter falls back on his great numbers, especially in the second half of last year when John Wall was back in the lineup. 

Webster finished the 2012-13 season with career-highs in points, assists and three-point shooting, and tied his career-high in rebounds per game. 

Ariza is the more experienced player, but his offensive numbers have declined every year since the 2009-10 season when Ariza played for the Houston Rockets

There's no clear-cut answer on what is best for the team, but trying different lineups in training camp to see how the chemistry works out would be nothing but beneficial to the Wizards. 


What Role will Otto Porter Jr. play?

Sticking with the small forward position, Otto Porter Jr. seems to be lost in the shuffle of training camp. 

The No. 3 overall pick in this year's draft, Porter has seemingly gone quiet since he was drafted by the Wizards. 

In the Summer League, Porter only shot 30 percent from the floor in three games before missing the rest of the Summer League with an injury. 

Before injuring his hamstring, Otto Porter Jr. only shot 30 percent in three Summer League games.
Before injuring his hamstring, Otto Porter Jr. only shot 30 percent in three Summer League games.Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images

Since then, Porter was injured again, and has missed practice so far due to a hip flexor injury

He's only 19, so there's no rush to get Porter some action, but it can't hurt to have him playing with the young players on the roster, especially second-year shooting guard Bradley Beal. 

If the Wizards are looking at Webster and Ariza to get most of the minutes at small forward, then where does that leave Porter? It's no good to leave him on the bench and only play 10 minutes per game, so training camp gives the Wizards an opportunity to see where he fits in and who he plays best with on the court. 


Who Will Start in Place of Emeka Okafor?

The previously-mentioned Okafor injury will cause quiet a problem for the Wizards until he can return and start at center again. 

Nenê seems to be the most likely option to start at center with Okafor out, but that changes up the power forward position. 

Al Harrington, traditionally a stretch four, said during media day on Friday that he would prefer to come off the bench, but would start if possible. 

Kevin Seraphin could also start at center and give Nenê the power forward spot, but Seraphin is relatively inexperienced, only starting 30 games during his three years in the NBA.

Nenê has also had his share of injuries in the past, so it would be best for the Wizards to try to limit his minutes to play more games as the season goes on. 

Again, there's no clear answer at this point, although the consensus seems to be that Nenê will be the starting center, but training camp is a great chance for Seraphin to get some more work with the other starters and possibly prepare him for the starting role. 

These questions aren't necessarily bad things. Some of these problems (especially the small forward battle) are good problems to have. 

But they also aren't questions that should be lingering into the first game, and the Wizards need to have them all answered by the time the season starts. 

Even if some pieces need to be moved around, Washington has the personnel to have its best year in a long time, and training camp is just the first step toward making a playoff push. 



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