The combination of a returning Gilbert Arenas, the trading for two Minnesota stars, and the addition of veteran head coach Flip Saunders have lead many Wizards fans in the District to not only talk about the playoffs, but also possible championship contention.
Yet while high local hopes and confidence are all well and good, it’s hard to fully gauge exactly how good the team will be based on the local gab alone.
In our own little bubble inside the beltway, we can feed off one another’s biases, optimism, and boredom sparked by a terrible Nationals team and what looks to be a sub-par Redskins club.
In order to gauge the nationwide (and perhaps more accurate) opinion on just exactly what kind of team the Wizards have this season, I reached out to top NBA bloggers across the Internet. Each one answered the simple question, what do you think the Wizards will do this season?
"Adding Flip Saunders and bringing back a healthy Agent Zero is going to be huge. I thought the team had relative potential last year but some guys seemed to give up.
This year, there is no question in my mind the Wizards have enough talent to compete in the East and give teams like the Cavs a very hard time.
Besides the big three being healthy, I think Haywood and Blatche really need to step up and take on the other centers in the East."
"The Wizards should have a much better season than last year, but by how much they improve remains to be seen. Who knows about Arenas, and us Wolves fans know first hand just exactly what assets Foye and Miller will bring to a club (or lack thereof).
All in all, there is hope in D.C. this season, especially if they can get a few lucky breaks along the way. And I do think Flip will be a great coach for their squad.
I see them finishing somewhere around five or six in the Eastern Conference. If they get really lucky, maybe fourth."
-College Wolf, Twolvesblog.com
"The Wizards are like a hot, crazy girlfriend. They seem they've got everything you would want at the beginning of each season, but eventually what could go wrong does. I see the Wizards finishing third in the East, above the Celtics, but losing in the second round of the playoffs."
“Before you read this, you must know that personally, I hate the Wizards. There's no team I despise more other than the Lakers and possibly the Jazz. So, they're in the top three of teams that I dislike the most any way you slice it.
Why do I hate them? Not because of the city, the coaches, or anything like that...DC is a nice place, visited several times.
The answer is Gilbert Arenas. He's one of the worst ball hogs I've ever seen step onto a court, no question about it. He's always going to shoot, no matter how many guys he's covered by.
Granted, I know he averaged 10 assists in his two games last year, but that's a pretty small sample size. Also, I've never liked his attitude, especially when he left my team (the Warriors) under shady terms and unveiled his new NBA live cover while his team was battling in the playoffs.
I know, I know, I'm being really harsh here, and he could be the nicest guy in the world who's been caught in bad situations, but this is what I've seen of him, and I don't like it.
That being said, the guy has been gone for the past two seasons, so there's a high possibility of injury, and even if he does stay healthy, there's still a lot of question marks as to whether he can run a team that can get anything more than a low to mid playoff seed in the East.
As for the rest of the team, it's probably the most talented group of swingmen in the league. But therein lies the problem: they're all swingmen.
Arenas, Stevenson, Butler, Jamison, Young, Miller, Foye, James, they're all swingmen. And for the most part, they're all scoring swingmen.
As for the big men in Haywood, Blatche, and Oberto, they're all trash. I mean, they're good athletes, but they're all pretty much bottom of the barrel as far as starting big men go in the NBA. They'll do their job and clog the lane, as usual.
I know I've sounded harsh here, but the bottom line is that the Wizards are still a good and talented team. But four swingmen and a lane clogger can only get you so far in this league, so I'd predict that if Arenas stays healthy, the wizards will grab a six or seven seed in the east, with a good chance at upsetting in the first round.
They could be higher, but there's a lot of new blood, so it will take some time to for the teammates to figure each other out.”
"I fully expect the Washington Wizards to do very well this season, thanks to a few things. One, it was an absolute coup to acquire Mike Miller and Randy Foye to add depth to a team that needed it.
Smart move to trade for the former Minnesota Timberwolves who have the track record to start, but may be used off the bench to form a potent punch.
Two, Brendan Haywood is back healthy, which will be a boost in the post and you still have to like the upside of Andray Blatche and Javale McGee.
Third, and most importantly, Gilbert Arenas is back. He's looked good during the offseason thanks to working out with Michael Jordan's former trainer, Tim Grover, and should form a deadly offensive trio again with Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison.
However, you can't sleep on the fact that this will be a Flip Saunders-coached team, meaning that the personnel matches the offensive thinking of Saunders. There is enough talent here for a top four finish in the East and, possibly, to take the Southeast Division crown from the Orlando Magic."
-Dennis Velasco, BarkleysMouth.com
"In recent seasons, the Washington Wizards have been a team of two faces—one face is a brilliant, consistent supermodel, performing night after night at high levels; the other face is a talented star that loves the paparazzi spotlight so much that it forgets where its focus should be and stumbles on the catwalk.
Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison are that consistent super model, bringing their bona fide star games pretty much every night. They are quality forwards that most teams would love to have.
Then we have the attention-crazed, distraction that has been Gilbert Arenas and DeShawn Stevenson.
On a team that is stacked with potential-laden youngsters on the bench, Arenas as a team leader is not the player that leads your team to the glory land. Arenas and Stevenson, for all of the talent that they do and don't have, have consistently shown that they don't know to quietly do their job without seeking outside unnecessary attention.
The examples are numerous, but we can start with Arenas' bragging over his NBA Live cover spot whilst his team was in a tense playoff battle and Stevenson's faux public war with an out-of-his-league LeBron James, incorporating rappers into the situation.
Whilst the Wizards are still populated with the behaviour that Arenas and Stevenson have shown, the talent that they actually have will be wasted. What does this all mean for the 2009-'10 season?
Whilst the distractions continue (which Arenas dubiously promises they have) the Wizards will continue to battle in the East's second tier—a distinct level below Cleveland, Boston, and Orlando; on par with the likes of Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, Toronto, and Philadelphia.
The additions of Randy Foye, Mike Miller, and Fabricio Oberto and the continued growth of Nick Young, JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche certainly helps, but does this push them to any higher hopes than pushing for fourth, at a stretch? In my humble opinion, no."
- Mookie, ASternWarning.com