September 1st, 2014 at 1:48 PM
By Matt Graber
The NBA's Southeast Division should be one of the most competitive and fun to watch in the entire league. The up and coming Washington Wizards and Charlotte Hornets, retooled Miami Heat, and healthy Atlanta Hawks are all likely playoff teams that have a shot at taking the division crown, and the Orlando Magic have a solid young core and should be much more competitive this year. With each team boasting a strong collection of talent, division games should be competitive affairs marked by strong positional battles, especially at point guard, where a quartet of talented young playmakers will battle it out to determine the point guard pecking order.
1) John Wall, Washington Wizards: Wall is coming off a breakout season where he averaged career highs in points (19.3), assists (8.8), and steals (1.8), while making the All-Star team for the first time. His success continued into the playoffs, where he helped lead the Wizards to a 4-1 series win over the Chicago Bulls, the Wizards' first playoff series win since 2005. Wall's blinding speed and athleticism have always been his calling cards, but it was his improved shooting, especially from beyond the arc, that made him a more complete and dangerous scorer. His playmaking also improved, as he led the NBA in total assists and created a ton of open three-point opportunities for his teammates. Wall's combination of scoring, passing and defense make him the most well-rounded and productive point guard in the Southeast Division, and at 23, he's only getting better.Read more... Join the Conversation...
August 29th, 2014 at 12:32 PM
By Matt Graber
As the NBA season approaches, free agency has grinded to a near halt. All the big moves have been made, as stars like LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Paul Pierce have chosen their new teams, or chosen to remain with their old team. The remaining free agency class consists of aging veterans, journeyman, unproven young players and former draft busts. And a lot of former Washington Wizards, apparently. Ex-Wizards who fit each of the aforementioned categories remain on the market, hoping for a chance at a fresh start with a new team. Whether they end up remaining in the NBA remains to be seen, but quite a few of them still have enough in the tank to make an impact.
Andray Blatche – Blatche played the first seven years of his career with the Wizards, from 2005-2012. While in Washington, he showed flashes of potential but developed a negative reputation in the locker room and around the league, exemplifying the blend of on-court skill and poor decision making that was a trademark of many Wizards players during that era. Despite his flaws, the 6'11" Blatche has the size and offensive skill to be a productive NBA player, and he's one of the most talented guys left in free agency. He'll find a new team sooner rather than later.Read more... Join the Conversation...
August 27th, 2014 at 1:01 PM
By Matt Graber
The Washington Wizards did a good job of fortifying their frontcourt depth this offseason. The additions of DeJuan Blair and Kris Humphries, combined with the returning Marcin Gortat, Nene, Drew Gooden and Kevin Seraphin, will give the Wizards a deep rotation and will provide injury insurance. Blair and Humphries aren't stars, but they're solid players who will give the Wizards the luxury of resting players if needed and using more matchup-based lineups. Unfortunately, the Wizards don't have that luxury when it comes to their backcourt. With the aging Andre Miller, the unproven Glen Rice Jr. and the un-impactful Garrett Temple serving as the only viable backups, the Wizards will have to rely heavily on the tandem of John Wall and Bradley Beal.Read more... Join the Conversation...
August 26th, 2014 at 11:24 AM
By Matt Graber
Wizards fans have been touting shooting guard Bradley Beal as a future All-Star since he entered the league, and the young guard is starting to live up to those lofty expectations. Beal made some significant strides last season, raising his scoring average his scoring from 13.9 PPG to 17.1 PPG, improving his three-point percentage to over 40%, and elevating his game in the playoffs to help the Wizards score a first-round upset over the Chicago Bulls. Beal has shown that it a question of when, not if, he'll make his first All-Star team. But can he make his breakthrough this year?
Beal is definitely an All-Star talent, and if he can continue to improve his numbers he has a good chance of making his All-Star debut this season. While advanced statistics have become more and more popular and relevant in recent years, the fact remains that numbers such as points, rebounds and assists are what draw the eye of many fans. If Beal can improve his shot selection and become a more well-rounded and efficient shooter, he could average 20 PPG this season, with a possible uptick in rebounds and assists as well. If he can put up 20, 4 and 4, he'll have the kind of stats that fans attribute to All-Star worthiness.Read more... Join the Conversation...
August 24th, 2014 at 12:23 PM
By Matt Graber
The Washington Wizards, for all their talent, aren't exactly known for starting the season off on the right foot. Year after year, the team tends to stumble out of the gate, posting disappointing results and losing winnable games while displaying signs of dysfunction. During the 2011-2012 lockout shortened season, the Wizards started out with eight straight losses and didn't register double digit wins until March en route to a 20-46 record. The 2012-2013 squad got off to an abysmal 0-12 start without John Wall and had the NBA's worst record for much of the first half of the season. Even last year's playoff team experienced some early season trouble, as the team couldn't climb above .500 until February. These slow starts have tempered fan expectations and have killed the team's momentum, forcing them to come from behind in the standings and dashing their playoff hopes. Fortunately, this year could signal a turnaround, as a favorable early-season schedule could actually see the Wizards pull of a rare early-season run of success.Read more... Join the Conversation...