PACE: #9 96.5
OFFENSE: #28 99.6
DEFENSE: #23 107.2
After being a veteran team that was a contender in the East, the Wizards are now in the middle of a rebuilding process to get younger and to improve via the draft. They got the jackpot with John Wall last season, but this is really still a growing pain process.For all the proposes, the Wizards were an unorthodox losing team: they were the worst road team of the league by winning just 3 road games – they lost the first 25 road games of the season! However, at home they had a pretty respectable record of 20-21! Finally, in close games decided by 3 or less points, the Wizards were 8-2! This high percentage in close games decided by 3 or less points was one of the best marks in the whole league!
Defensively, the Wizards did everything wrong: bad %FG’s allowed, they fouled too much and sent their opponents to the FT line in a high rate and they were a terrible defensive rebounding team as well – only the Warriors were worse! They were also the second worst team in defending the rim by allowing their opponents to hit 69.1% FG!
A frontcourt constituted by JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche was a cake walk for the opposing frontcourts and the bad news is that these two players not only are back but they will likely be the starters once again. However, McGee is still a young player, so we can expect some improvement for him this season.
In a mere statistic standpoint, McGee improved all the most relevant personal statistics: points, FG%, rebounds and blocks. However, it feels like the Wizards are still short on the frontcourt and this may hurt them this season once again.
On the offensive end, I’m waiting for a breakout season from John Wall. He was the rookie of the year last season and he was the biggest reason why the Wizards went from being the 19th fastest paced team to 9th last season – the kid is really lightening fast!
However, Wall’s rookie season wasn’t just roses for him. He battled through some injuries and had some concerning numbers: he was the second player in the league with most turnovers per game with 3.8 TO/game and his long range shooting was bad with 29.6% 3pts, 30% FG from 16-23 feet and 28.6% FG from 10-15 feet. The good news is that Wall was a rookie, so he has all the margin to improve his game in every facet of the game.
In this season’s draft, the Wizards added more young talent to the roster: two frontcourt players in Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton and picked up the guard Shelvin Mack in the second round. Vesely has all the tools to be the next “Kirilenko”, as his athleticism and versatility can make him a good all around player, while Singleton will bring some necessary toughness to the team.
The Wizards have also Nick Young who is a good scorer with a nice shooting range, but he simply can’t pass the ball. They will also keep Rashard Lewis who, if healthy, is a threat on the perimeter.
In my opinion, the Wizards are one of the several young teams that can surprise anyone if they learn fast, but their frontcourt will give Flip Saunders a lot of headaches. I don’t expect them to be in the playoffs and with the next year’s draft being loaded with good frontcourt players, maybe the Wizards will be a truly competitive team only next season with one top pick on that draft.