2010-11 NBA Predictions: 10 Reasons The Washington Wizards Are Playoff-Bound
In the past decade, the Washington Wizards have been the joke of the NBA; from Kwame Brown's NBA career bust, to getting kicked out of the playoffs by the Cavaliers every year, to even gun jokes.
This year, the organization has been tired of being taken as a joke and is looking to step up the NBA ladder, and fast.
They bombed the whole roster of veteran players, excluding Gilbert Arenas who was the headline for the jokes in the 2009-10 season. Also they acquired a new #1 overall draft pick who I'm almost 100% sure that he won't end up like Kwame Brown and a new owner who owned another winning organization who is committed to winning also.(the Capitals)
The Wizards will probably be one of the top 10 most interesting teams to watch and should prove many things while on the court this season.
10. Developing Backcourts
One of the most exciting things to watch out of last years dull season was the development of JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche. While McGee still could use some development, Andray Blatche is still carrying over the All-Star skills that he showed off last year after the All-Star Break.
After a slow start in Andray Blatche's career by spending most of the time on the bench behind Antawn Jamison, he has seemed to learn more about the game and has already proven it on the court.
JaVale McGee on the other hand, still has a lot to learn and will eventually learn but it will take more time in the practice gym and weight room. There have been some questions about JaVale McGee and how coachable he is in doing what the coach asks.
Expect Andray Blatche to be consistent this season and get close to making the All-Star team, but will fall short because of the bunch of PFs he will be competing with. Honestly, with JaVale, he will be in the top 5 in blocks for the league, his athleticism allows him to get his head above the rim with ease which will make him become a star...if he can just get some better post moves.
9. Ted Leonsis
The new owner of the Washington Wizards is already an owner used to winning while currently being the Washington Capitals' owner. If you watch hockey, then you know that the Capitals are a top-notch hockey team that wins 9 out of the 10 times you watch them.
Well, Ted Leonsis is trying to make the Washington Wizards a winning organization as well as the Capitals. His whole gameplan to creating success in a sports franchise bases on rebuilding through the draft and developing young players for the future. The Wizards' organization executed the plan by not going after Carmelo Anthony this off-season and just leaving this season for developing John Wall, McGee, and other young players on the roster.
With an owner that has an attitude based on winning basketball games, you can't go wrong, especially if he is patience like Ted Leonsis.
8. Wizards Guard Depth
One thing that the Wizards now have that has been missing the past couple of years is their guard depth, not just guard depth, but quality guard depth. The Wizards have now acquired a great defender in Kirk Hinrich and has gotten Gilbert Arenas back from suspension, and they couldn't past up on John Wall...so that now leaves them very heavy at the frontcourt.
Flip Saunders has a top-notch offense mind set and he is most known for his creative offensive sets, this year will take that mind of his to the next level. So far this preseason, we have seen Flip Saunders experiment with his 3-Guard Offense in the starting five which includes John Wall, Gilbert Arenas, and Kirk Hinrich. This offensive set creates problems for the opposing team on defense because of the quickness of the three guards, but it also creates a problem on defense when guarding Lebron James, Kevin Durant, or Carmelo Anthony.
**It has already been stated by Flip Saunders that he will not go with the 3-Guard Offense when playing these opponents.
The leadership on this team has taken a major leap when it comes to people that are ready to put everyone on the team on the right track. Last year's leader was Gilbert Arenas and we see how that turned out; the Wizards' also had Andray Blatche as a leader at the end of the year and his attitude wasn't leader-like either.
This year is different, the Wizards have a leader in John Wall from the University of Kentucky who only lost 2 game in the regular season last year, and they have newly acquired Kirk Hinrich who should've saw more playing time last year but was still the captain and leader of the team and led them to the playoffs despite losing in Round One to the Cavaliers.
I went to a Wizards' practice last week and noticed that the atmosphere has changed, players are still joking around like Arenas and Blatche, but during the scrimmages and drills, they have their "game-faces" on.
During the Summer League, John Wall showed the leadership skills he has when he was yelling at McGee to catch rebounds and not let anyone take it from him...from a 19 year old to a 22 year old, that's pretty impressive.
6. The Eastern Conference Outlook
When it comes to the Eastern Conference Standings predictions, the top 5 teams are pretty easy:
1. Miami Heat
2. Boston Celtics
3. Orlando Magic
4. Atlanta Hawks
5. Chicago Bulls
Now you can argue and say that the Milwaukee Bucks should be in there but I'm not sure because of the injury bug that has been passed around from John Salmons to Corey Maggette and we don't know if those injuries can come back to them later in the season.
The last 3 spots in the Eastern Conference playoffs are a foot race that goes to whoever can go on the longest stretch of wins. The only other teams I have in contention for the last 3 spots are the Washington Wizards, Milwaukee Bucks, New York Knicks, or the Philadelphia 76ers.
5. Overall Bench
The Wizards' bench is one of the most athletic benches I have seen for a team, their bench consists of Al Thornton, Nick Young, and Yi Jianlian as the key bench players.
Al Thornton was a starter on the Clippers but will most likely be on the bench once Josh Howard comes back in November. Thornton struggled over the years with consistency in his jumpshot most of the times in games. Al Thornton's excuse for not being as consistent as he wanted to last year was because of being out of shape and putting on unwanted pounds. This offseason, he he has gotten in better shape and shed some pounds for the season.
Nick Young, another valuable piece to the Wizards' bench that has a "J.R. Smith-like" style of play. He is very inconsistent, which is something that he has been trying to basically improve his whole career. When he is hot, he will make any jumpshot, no matter how many hands are in his face or how bad of an angle he is at.
Yi Jianlian is a player with something that they have to show for; after a bad run with the Bucks and a mediocre one with the Nets, Jianlian knows that he needs to prove that he isn't a NBA bust. Consistency is also a problem with Yi Jianlian as at times his shot is automatic and other times he misses wide left. He almost reminds me of a Bargnani type of player with his face-up game and being able to take the ball from the perimeter.
One of the X-Factors in the Washington Wizards becoming a playoff team involve their bench showing some consistency on a nightly basis.
The one thing that stands out among superstars is their mentality, Kobe is known for his and Michael Jordan is known for his also. With John Wall and Kirk Hinrich on the squad, I feel that the whole direction of the franchise has taken a big step. John Wall has already come through and said that he would rather go to the playoffs than win the Rookie of the Year trophy...unlike Demarcus Cousins.
"To be honest, I'll take playoffs first and then rookie of the year second. That's the type of person I am," Wall said. "Rookie of the year would be great, as an individual goal, but like I told you, if I can better individually and worry about individual goals for this team, it's not going to help the organization get back to where it wants to be -- and that's hopefully a playoff contender and before I end my career, a championship contender. The main thing is focusing on the team and worrying about myself second."
Sounds like this rookie has his mind on the right track.
3. Sam Cassell
Sam Cassell has great leadership abilities and isn't afraid to get on players for doing something they didn't do that they were supposed to do. This year, its obvious that his main focus is helping John Wall develop into the NBA game-style and eventually develop him into an all-star caliber player.
Cassell was known for his mid-range game, which is now a lost art in today's game, and is constantly teaching Wall new things, such as his post game. In which Wall can excel in because he is taller than most guards in the league. Sam Cassell is known as a player who couldn't keep his mouth shut, because you would always see him directing the team on what they need to as he sculpted into a leader.
In a couple years, expect Sam Cassell to get a head coach job but that will probably happen after he helps lead the Wizards to the playoffs.
2. Chip On Their Shoulders
One thing the Wizards have that not too many NBA teams have is a bunch of players with something to prove this season.
1.Gilbert Arenas-Needs to prove that he is still in all-star form even after his suspension and his constant display of immaturity.
2.Josh Howard-Needs to prove that he isn't injury-prone and is still the player that he was back in the 2005-06 season.
3.Yi Jianlian-Needs to prove that he isn't a bust and show some consistency on his jumpshot, otherwise he might be used as trade bait again.
4.Nick Young-Needs to show consistency also, is currently going on his contract year so he has to prove to the front office that he belongs with this organization.
5.Adam Morrison-If he makes the team, he needs to also prove that he isn't a bust, in which he is already being called.
**With all these players with something to prove, including two former all-stars will create some fire on the basketball court this year.
1. John Wall
The number one overall draft pick, and possibly better than Magic Johnson.
I had to get that one out.
Everyone has potential, right?
John Wall has amazing potential and will most likely be in the top 10 for PGs this decade, his all-star potential is more than Derrick Rose, with his ability to find his teammates being off-the-charts. I don't think I have ever seen anyone as fast with the ball as John Wall since the Allen Iverson days in the early 2000s. His skills will make everyones' numbers skyrocket and is the type of player that will make everyone better.
You can say what you want about preseason, but I do know that in the game, everyone wants to win...even if its just a simple exhibition, and John Wall has been dominating lately, Mike D'Antoni even said that he hopes that Wall never learns how to shoot, because he will then be "unguardable".