Washington Wizards 2016-17 NBA Season Preview

2015-16 NBA Record: 41-41

Additions: Trey Burke (traded from Utah Jazz), Andrew Nicholson (Orlando Magic), Ian Mahinmi (Indiana Pacers), Jason Smith (Orlando Magic)

Subtractions: Alan Anderson (Los Angeles Clippers), Jared Dudley (Phoenix Suns), Nene (Houston Rockets), Garrett Temple (Sacramento Kings), Ramon Sessions (Charlotte Hornets)

Projected Starting Line-up (via rotoworld.com)

PG – John Wall

SG – Bradley Beal

SF – Otto Porter

PF – Markieff Morris

C – Marcin Gortat

Two years ago, the Wizards were two wins away from the Eastern Conference Finals. Last season, they missed the playoffs completely, which led to the firing of Randy Wittman. They hired Scott Brooks, who has playoff experience with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Washington are also hoping that Brooks can work the same magic with Bradley Beal and John Wall as he did with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and take the duo to the next level. Beal received a 5 year/$128 million extension, but many consider this a risky move as despite his impressive skill set, he’s had a number of injuries throughout his career.

John Wall is the key for this team and is nearing the elite group of point guards in the NBA, if he isn’t in it already. Last season, Wall averaged 19.9 points and 10.2 assists, both career highs. However, the most important player on this team is Bradley Beal. He was only limited to 55 games last season due to injury, but in the first 17 games in 2015, recorded an average of 19.8 points. Beal showed he can become the go-to guy on offence but will need to stay healthy in order for Washington to have any chance. The Wizards will only go as far as these two take them and they’ll need to develop more chemistry since Wall openly admitted to the two not seeing eye-to-eye last year. At least 70 games with the duo on court would be a success. Otto Porter has become quite a nice 3-and-D guy but will need to be more consistent and Marcin Gortat is a reliable double-double machine who has only missed 8 games in the last three seasons. The young Kelly Oubre Jr has shown scoring potential this pre-season and will look to assume the role of small forward during the year. One key player is Markieff Morris, who averaged 17.6 points and 6.6 rebounds over the last five games of last season, will be looking to keep that momentum up heading into this year. The addition of Trey Burke was much-needed as it filled the gap of the backup point guard position. Ian Mahinmi is a solid rim protector that will have limited minutes behind Marcin Gortat. The most intriguing of the newbies is “rookie” Tomas Satoransky, a 201 second-round pick who developed his game overseas. He’s a 6’7 guard who has shown potential as a playmaker.

When healthy, Wall and Beal are one of the best duos in the league and as Wall mentioned last season, it’s time for Beal to become an All-Star. However, wherever the Wizards finish will depend on how well guys like Trey Burke, Kelly Oubre and Otto Potter develop. It will also have to rely on a weak frontcourt, which will have to compete with Dwight Howard, Hassan Whiteside and Serge Ibaka regularly. But the main factor here is coach Scott Brooks. Brooks is great at developing players and forms great relationships with players. He’ll also have to give the Wizards a true identity that they’ve been lacking the past few seasons. He took a young OKC side with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka all the way to the NBA Finals. That’s not to say he’ll do the same with the Wizards, but he’ll definitely make the most out of what he has and prove that the 2012 season wasn’t a fluke.

Prediction: 2nd in Southeast Division

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