The basketball season is upon us. Tonight the Wizards kick off the season in Miami against the LeBronless Heat. After that, they will have 81 more games to tear and claw their way through the East to try and improve on last year’s 2nd round bounce from the playoffs at the hands of the Pacers. It was a good showing from the inexperienced Wizards, who first beat the Bulls in 6. This year, they want to make more noise.
While their key foes in the East (minus Miami) got better, the Wiz improved too. Last season, their biggest weakness was depth. To put it bluntly, it was nonexistent. They have brought in Kris Humprhies to play behind Gortat and Nene up front. Though his career stats don’t look impressive, he averaged 14 and 11 in the 2012-13 season when he started for the Nets, and his per/48 numbers are very good as well. Joining him up front off the bench is DeJuan Blair, a big body who will provide solid minutes.
And perhaps the most shocking acquisition of the offseason, Paul Pierce is now a Washington Wizard. He could have signed in many other places, but he chose to come to DC because he loves the backcourt already in place with Wall and Beal. Pierce replaces Trevor Ariza who bolted to Houston. The Truth’s leadership and presence will for sure benefit this team in ways that won’t show up directly on the stat sheet. The 21 year old Bradley Beal is very fortunate to have a guy like Pierce show him the ropes.
As for what to expect? The Wizards went 44-38 last year, finishing 5th in the East in the regular season, then went on to beat the Bulls in the first round of the playoffs. I think 50 wins this year is plausible. The team has improved by adding pieces and seeing continuing development from Wall, Beal, and the 3rd overall pick a couple years back Otto Porter. Throw in the dominant front court of Nene and Gortat, and that is a very well rounded team.
With Beal on the bench with an injury for at least the first month of the season, the Wizards might start slow. But they do have enough guys to carry the load until he gets back.
Looking forward to a great year of basketball in DC. And just remember, in a 7 game series, anything can happen.