As the 2009-2010 season ended for the Washington Wizards spirits were low in the nation's capital. The team had lost its three biggest stars over the course of the season.
First, Gilbert Arenas was lost for the season following an embarrassing scandal where he brought guns to the Verizon Center and jokingly threatened a teammate. Then, former All Stars Antwan Jamison and Caron Butler were shipped away in mid-season trades to contenders.
All was dark in D.C. until a stroke of luck left the team with the number one overall pick and the pleasure of adding University of Kentucky point guard John Wall. The lightning quick Wall at the very least makes the Wizards an exciting watch—if not a playoff contender.
So far, the rookie has impressed in preseason games—showing a quick burst, great handle, and court vision beyond his years. Having a point guard of his caliber gives the Wizards an edge over many teams at that crucial position.
Despite the unlimited potential Wall possesses, the rest of the Wizards' roster is lacking in experience, cohesiveness, and possibly talent. Playing the role of Robin to Wall's Batman could be Gilbert Arenas, fresh off his extended suspension.
Arenas has continued to provide the team with a bizarre array of moments. However, this year the moments lack Arenas' usual lightheartedness and instead give the impression of a lost soul. From comments about how he will likely soon be moving on to a new team, to his faking of an injury so teammate Nick Young could get more playing time, Arenas continues to puzzle.
In spite of all this, Arenas could be the key to the Wizards' possible playoff push. Although the team would prefer to trade him, his enormous contract will likely make that impossible. This means that they will need some kind of contribution from Arenas who hopefully will adapt his game to match the impressive rookie.
The true match for Wall could be veteran guard Kirk Hinrich, who was acquired this offseason from the Bulls. Hinrich has the outside shot, the defensive presence, and the demeanor to form a formidable backcourt with the dynamic Wall.
The maturation of frontcourt players JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche will also be essential. Both are raw talents who have the ability to change shots on the defensive end and finish around the basket on offense. If Flip Saunders can find an effective way to get McGee and Blatche on the court at the same time, they could be major contributors this year.
The bevy of swingmen on the team—like Nick Young, Josh Howard, and Al Thornton—will need to contribute on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court for the Wizards to have a formidable all around roster.
A lot of the emphasis is on coach Saunders to put the proper pieces in place around Wall. If he can do so, then there is no reason this team cannot challenge for a playoff spot in the East for most of the season.