Washington Wizards Preview: Eight Storylines | News
WASHINGTON (WUSA/The Wiz Kid) -- Our insider Kevin "Wiz Kid" Jones previews eight burning questions about the Wizards 2011-2012 season.
Is this the season John Wall makes a Russell Westbrook/Derrick Rose like jump into becoming an elite scorer?
My view is that Wall will continually give us a glimpse of jaw-dropping ability that he could one day become an MVP candidate like Rose, but I don't think this is the year he averages 20 points per game. Look around at the roster. There are too many guys who like firing up shots as soon as they get the ball (Blatche, Young, McGee, Lewis and Crawford). Wall won't reach his true potential surrounded by a bunch of me-first type of guys.
If you're looking to see improvements from John Wall, then it hopefully will come in the midrange shooting variety. Opposing defenses can have success against the 6-foot-4 guard when sagging off on him and forcing jump shots. As soon as his midrange game becomes potent, Wall will have all the tools of a franchise cornerstone.
Who is more valuable to this team: JaVale McGee or Nick Young?
Both are free agents following the season. Both will want around $10 million a season. Also, if both were kept on long term contracts it might be time for Wizards fans to burn all of their merchandise.
I'm torn on this one because I'm not sold on either, but give me McGee. He's just 23-years-old and at times can be a defensive stalwart. One of JaVale McGee's problems is that he has the touch of an axe murderer from five-eight feet from the basket. It would be enormous to see his rebound numbers get into the double digits this year.
Nick Young could be replaceable through the draft, although we saw how bad the Washington offense was without him against the 76ers in the preseason opener. He's solely a scorer, which means people completely overrate him when looking at the numbers.
Will we notice anything different about Andray Blatche?
I think so. Blatche has taken on the more serious role as a team spokesman in the locker room to the press. In doing so, I think he will hold his basketball game more accountable. According to HoopData.com, last season Blatche averaged 4.1 shot attempts per game from 16-23 feet away. I think you'll see that number lower and some increased defensive intensity from Andray Blatche.
Is there a possibility Flip Saunders resigns?
There is absolutely a chance. If you haven't heard the Saunders presser from last Friday, please go ahead and listen to his cynical tone after just one preseason game. Flip just seems drained from the lack of team work and defensive effort put out from the Wiz. It reflects poorly on him as a coach. The team is a depressing 49-115 during this regime.
As much as I like Saunders as a coach, maybe a change would spark the Wizards. Washington assistant coach and longtime NBA point guard Sam Cassel would be my first choice to replace Saunders if some kind of change is deemed to be made. Cassel is a three-time NBA champion (most recently in 2008 with the Celtics) and is known for his feistiness.
Which rookie will make the biggest impact?
Chris Singleton. After just one preseason game I'm almost ready to anoint the Florida State alum as the Wizards' best wing defender. Singleton's great because he also forces turnovers on either blocks or deflected passes because of his 7-foot-1 wingspan. Also watch out for his baseline shooting. I think by February Singleton will be ready to replace Rashard Lewis in the starting lineup.
Will the additions of Roger Mason Jr. and Ronny Turiaf matter?
Yes and no. Mason is willing to give free advice to guys like Wall, Young and Shelvin Mack. The question is will they listen? I'm a huge Ronny Turiaf guy, but I'm also huge on letting younger pieces get experience during a rebuilding mode. Turiaf's addition will limit Kevin Seraphin and especially Trevor Booker from becoming potential impact players.
What/who will be the biggest surprise in 2011-2012
I have this little feeling that Nick Young could play with a vengeance this season after getting spurned by the Wiz and the NBA without a big contract reward. Even if he is a ball-hog (and lord knows the NBA is full of ball-hogs), the 26-year-old excelled in his first real chance of playing time. I say Nick Young averages 20 points per game, flashing his pure scoring ability night-in and night-out. Will that be enough for the Wizards to re-sign him? Hopefully not.
What percent chance do the Wizards have of making the playoffs?
15 percent. The only bottom barrel teams in the eastern conference that are worse than Washington are Charlotte, Cleveland, Toronto and maybe Detroit. I'd argue Indiana and Philadelphia are locks for the playoffs, meaning the Wizards are competing with Milwaukee and New Jersey for the final eighth seed. If Wall makes a tremendous leap, don't rule out anything.