NBA Free Agency: Why the Washington Wizards Should Be a Top Destination
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Most readers, NBA fans and even professional basketball players probably don't question the attractiveness of the Washington Wizards as a free agent destination. In fact, the DC basketball franchise probably isn't even thought about as a possible destination for most free agents.
The Wizards have failed to make the playoffs since 2008, when they ended a four-year playoff streak. They had top flight talent with Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison suiting up as an original 'Big Three'.
Since 2008, the Wizards have won 19, 26 and 23 games, landing lottery picks in the past three drafts. Despite outlandish player activities (almost exclusively from Gilbert Arenas), poor management decisions and an overall culture of losing, the Washington Wizards should be a top destination for free agents in this short offseason.
The Wizards are young—very young. Rashard Lewis, an experienced, successful veteran, is the only Wizard over the age of 26. John Wall leads this young team with the potential of becoming a top-flight NBA point guard. Wall has the speed, ball handling ability, defensive intensity and basketball instincts required to become a dominant point guard in a league dominated by point guards. Wall is just 21, however, and needs an experienced guard in the backcourt to help mold and mature him.
In addition to Wall, the Wizards possess two bright young shooting guards who can score with the best of them in Nick Young and Jordan Crawford. These two guys frequently dropped 20 and 30 points on talented defensive teams like the Miami Heat. Both Crawford and Young lack defensive ability though, which contributes to the Wizards' poor scoring defense.
Two first-round picks also have the Wizards becoming even more athletic. Chris Singleton, a defensive star from Florida State, is expected to give the Wizards valuable minutes off the bench to help them where they need it the most. In addition, Singleton can knock down the open three as he showed in college.
Jan Vesely, most famous for kissing his girlfriend in the green room at the NBA Draft, is a lottery pick with tons of upside. Vesely can run the floor, finish at the rim and handle the ball—all at 6'11". With John Wall throwing the ball up, expect the Wall-Vesely combination to produce many highlight-reel alley-oops.
In the low post, JaVale McGee, 23 years old, and Andray Blatche, 25, demonstrate athleticism with unlimited potential. McGee, a young seven footer, can run the floor and produce highlight dunks, as seen in All-Star Weekend 2011. However, McGee lacks the moves and shot selection on the offensive end to produce on a consistent level.
Blatche, on the other hand, has been extremely frustrating to Wizard fans. The New York native has shown glimpses of brilliance on the offensive end in his five-year career. Blatche can take the ball out and hit the jumper, drive, rebound and finish at the rim. He should be in the conversation with solid forwards like Stoudemire, Bosh, Gasol, and Boozer. However, Blatche's off-the-court mishaps and lack of defensive effort has him in the conversation with third-tier NBA talent.
The city of Washington, DC is starved for a winner. The Redskins continue to disappoint, the Nationals are a veteran away from being a contender and the Capitals choke every postseason. With the talent and endless potential of young stars, a veteran coach in Flip Saunders and the new direction owner Ted Leonsis is taking the franchise (new logo, colors, mission), the Wizards should be asking "Why not us?" A talented, veteran free agent could provide the Wizards with what they need to make a playoff push and, in the future, could become a legend in the most power-hungry city on earth.
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