The Washington Wizards won 44 games last season, their highest win total since the 2004-05 season. With another year of experience under the belt for a dynamic backcourt in John Wall and Bradley Beal plus a slew of veterans including a future Hall of Fame addition in Paul Pierce, many think the Wizards will improve off last season.
But, what should we really expect from this team in 2014-15?
On paper, the Wizards should be better next season. Wall and Beal are the main reason why.
The two were already very good last season and with another year under their belt, their 2014-15 season should be their best yet.
Wall is entering his fifth year in the league and is slowly creeping into his prime. He was the Wizards best and most valuable player last season.
The All-Star point guard averaged 19.3 points per game along with 8.8 assists, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.8 steals. His ability to dominate the game in a variety of ways was a big reason for the Wizards success last season.I expect him to be the same guy, but even better this year.
Beal is going into his third year and has shown signs of being a potential all-star. Last season he scored 17.1 points per game on 40.2 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
Beal looked excellent in last year’s playoffs and the Wizards can only hope he builds off of it.
Pierce is still an effective offensive player, even at the age of 37. Nene and Gortat are one of the better two-way frontcourts in the league.
The also added DeJuan Blair and Kris Humphries to add depth and experience to their frontcourt. While neither are going to play big time minutes, both will be able to play 15-20 solid minutes a game for the Wizards.
So, why can’t the Wizards win around 50 games?
For one, Randy Wittman is still the coach. I have concerns about Wittman’s in-game adjustments and his offensive schemes.
The Wizards lost 12 games last season where they had a double-digit lead at one point. While that is not all on Wittman, it is a concern for a coach who has had a track record as poor as him.
Coaches who can make good adjustments throughout a game do not let their teams lose that many games in which they held a formidable lead.
I thought his offense really made Beal an inefficient player last season. It forced Beal into a lot of tough long 2sand often took the ball out of Wall’s hands, a dynamic playmaker.
The Wizards are also one Pierce tweaked knee and the inevitable Nene injury to having a starting lineup that consists of Otto Porter and either Blair or Humphries. That’s not what you want.
Of course I don’t want either of those guys to get injured, but Pierce will be 38 once the season starts and we all know, Nene is going to get hurt at some point next season.
He has missed at least 20 games in each of the last three seasons.
ESPN’s Summer Forecast projected the Wizards to finish fourth in the Eastern Conference, finishing with a record of 47-35. The boss man at Hoops Habit, Mike Dunlap (follow him on Twitter), projected the Wizards to finish third in the conference, winning 49 games.
I think those are both realistic expectations for the Wizards. I think they could fall anywhere from the third to the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference, winning 44-48 games.
If I trusted Wittman more and they didn’t rely heavily on two older players, I think the Wizards could win 50 games for the first time since the 1978-79 season (Go Bullets!). With all that said, Beal and Wall could just take a ginormous leap and get the Wizards to around 50 wins.
Who really knows, but I think being a mid-level team in the East and winning a little more than 44 games is pretty realistic for this Wizards team.