Washington Wizards: 30 Teams in 30 Days
Finished 19-63, fifth in Southeast Division, 15th in Eastern conference
Mike Miller via trade, Randy Foye via trade, Fabricio Oberto via trade
Etan Thomas via trade, Olekisy Pecherov via trade, Darius Songaila
For the Washington Wizards, the offseason was not meant for blockbuster trades and to make huge signings to improve the team after its worst season in a decade. They didn't need to completely rebuild the team, which usually happens to a franchise when it wins only 19 games in season.
They didn't need any of that because they already have everything they need to make a postseason run.
They just need to stop facing the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round.
Over the course of four consecutive postseason appearances, they lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers the last three. It was for a number of reasons, mostly LeBron James related, but the Wizards would always have the opportunity to topple the Cavs and come up short. Each deciding game would usually come down to the wire and end in favor of Cleveland.
Each team has taken two different routes since their last matchup in the 2007-'08 postseason with the Cavs getting the Eastern conference's best record and the Wizards finishing at the bottom of the conference.
This upcoming season is going to tell a different story about this Wizards team as they now have all the essential parts to become a legitimate postseason threat. Last season, the team lost three starters to injury including all-star Gilbert Arenas who has been injured for the past two seasons.
When healthy, Arenas is one of the top players in this league, and arguably the best scorer in the league. His career best was the 2005-06 season when he averaged 29 points per game, but over the past two seasons he has seen near career lows in nearly every category.
He has only played a combined 15 games the past two years while being the most important part to this team. The Wizards are going to need him now more than ever if they want to succeed in a now stacked Eastern Conference.
The Wizards should have no problem in making it to the postseason once again, especially now that Antwan Jamison and Caron Butler now have a serious starting lineup to work with. The same lineup has helped them make the postseason with ease four years in a row.
As the team's starting power forward, Jamison assumed the role as team leader and even being the great player that he is today, could not make miracles happen to a team with three rookies and aging veterans in it.
He still managed to put up his usual numbers and be one of the most underrated forwards in the league. At 22 points and nine rebounds per game, Jamison is capable of putting up numbers good enough for another all-star caliber season. Even with Arenas in the lineup, Jamison can still manage to average 20 points and ten rebounds throughout the season.
Along with Jamison in the front court is Caron Butler. Since joining the Wizards, Caron has improved every year and is nearing an all-star game appearance if he keeps improving his numbers.
Butler averaged a career high 21 points last season, along with six rebounds and four assists. He has been flying under the radar and has become one of the most versatile forwards in the league. If Butler keeps putting up numbers like he has been, it only improves the Wizards chances of being a contender in the next few years.
The Wizards will also see the return of Brendan Haywood into the starting lineup after only playing six games last season. While Haywood is not too good of an offensive producer and should drastically improve his rebounding, his body and size causes problems for the bulky, post up centers of this league. This could come in handy when the Wizards face centers such as Shaquille O'Neal and Dwight Howard.
Over the off season though, the Wizards did even more to improve to its already talented, stacked starting lineup by trading for shooting guard Mike Miller. In recent seasons, Miller has emerged as one of the best three-point shooters in the league, but averaged a career low 10 points in his only season with the Minnesota Timberwolves before being traded over the off season.
Miller will address the needs for a shooting guard, which was originally the spot held by DeShawn Stevenson. He was another player who fell victim to the injury bug and was missed by the Wizards, who is known for his three-point specialty. He only averaged seven points per game before ending his season after playing 32 games. He will see his time go to the bench now that he has been replaced by a more consistent scorer in Miller.
Despite having three of their starters on the bench with injuries, it did give plenty of experience to young players such as Javale McGee, Javaris Crittenton, and Nick Young. Young in his second year averaged 11 points as a starter, McGee as the starting center who averaged six points and four rebounds, while Crittenton in his first season with the Wizards averaged five points and three assists.
The experience they gained as starters early in their career will help them later on in the long run when they are needed off the bench. Their contribution as role players could be the factor that gives the Wizards that extra push they need to advance further into the postseason.
The Washington Wizards with their healthy lineup could be one of the most dangerous teams in the league, especially now that they have an offensive threat at nearly every position on the floor, including some fire power off the bench. The Wizards might become a contender and make a deep run into the postseason that is if they don't have to face the Cavaliers. But judging from the team now, anything is possible.
Projected Starting Lineup
This is Pt. 30 of a 30-day series of 2009-10 season previews of each NBA team. My profile will contain every other team that has been previewed before.
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