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The Audacity of Hope: Your 2010-11 Washington Wizards

By Lee Friedman

With the regular season starting next week, the Wizards begin the season with a lot of hope and optimism. Unfortunately, as President Obama has learned the hard way, hope and optimism can only get you so far. It doesn’t get you much on the basketball court either. This team could win anywhere between 25 and 40 games this year, which is the difference between a top lottery pick and (in the East, at least) a playoff spot. They have a lot of unproven young players with potential. That can be a recipe for success (Oklahoma City Thunder) or disaster (almost any Sacramento Kings team post-Peja). The performance of the four players below will go a long way towards determining that. Next week I’ll address the fifth starter and the bench.

John Wall: I saw my first in-person Wizards game of the year when they played the Bucks last week. If it’s possible, Wall seems even quicker in person. My big concern with Wall is that at some point this season there will be an ESPN game highlight where they refer to him as John “Another Brick in the” Wall. His jump shooting leaves something to be desired (1 for 13 from 3 in the preseason). That being said, he’s already one of the top 10 or 15 point guards in the league, before he plays a single regular season game.

-Prediction: 17 ppg, 7 apg, 1.5 spg and a ROY award.
-Key Stat: Assist to turnover ratio: if his assist to turnover ratio is 2:1 or better (3:1 would be really good) it's one sign that he is running the offense efficiently and under control. As a frame of reference, here are some other young point guard’s rookie year assist to turnover ratio along with their team’s record:

Chris Paul (38-44)

2:1 to 3:0
Derrick Rose (41-41)
Brandon Jennings (46-36)
Russell Westbrook (23-59)

Less then 2:1
Tyreke Evans (25-57)
Stephon Curry (26-56)

Andray Blatche: In the preseason he alternated between “Good Dray” and “Bad Dray”. If he stays in the post with the occasional mid-range jumper we are looking at a potential double-double machine. Unfortunately there were too many times in the preseason (and last season) when he tried to take a guy off the dribble or he spotted up for a 3 -- he averaged more than 1 3-point attempt per game in the preseason. It works sometimes (he made 44% in the preseason), but the Wizards aren’t good enough in the post for him to be channeling Channing Frye.

-Prediction: 18 ppg, 8 rpg, 1.5 bpg
-Key Stat:
DNP-Coach’s Decision: if this number is anything other than 0 then Dray and Flip may need some marriage counseling from Dr. Drew. If he can get the 5th or 6th Baldwin brother clean, he can certainly get these two on the same page.

JaVale McGee: The play of McGee (and Arenas) will be the biggest difference between a 25 win team and a 40 win team. McGee had some really good preseason games: he showed a lot of energy, he was a defensive force in the middle and he even showed off some new post moves…most of the time. Countless times JaVale would go flying through the air for a rebound but end up going in the opposite direction as the ball. He’s the anti-Dennis Rodman when it comes to rebound positioning and timing. 

-Prediction: 10 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 2 bpg
-Key Stat: Minutes per game: if he’s averaging more then 25 minutes per game we are in good shape, but less then 20 minutes means at least 28 minutes of Hilton Armstrong, and a scouting trip to see Perry Jones and Jan Vesely. 

 Gilbert Arenas: On the court I’m sure that Gil will be able to perform at a high level. Hopefully the off-the-court stuff will get left behind. He didn’t play much in the preseason, but from his limited time he seemed to be in a good place physically. The key will be Gil knowing when to pick his spots to score. It could take 10 or 15 games for him to get in to a comfort zone with Wall and the rest of the team, but once he does, I think they’ll click.

-Prediction: 19 ppg, 1.5 spg
-Key Stat: Number of times mentioned on the ESPN sports ticker under a “news alert”, if it is anything other than 0, we might need to check on Dr. Drew’s rate for a group session.

By Box Seats blogger  | October 22, 2010; 1:50 PM ET
Categories:  Lee Friedman, Wizards  | Tags:  Lee Friedman, Wizards  
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Next: Takeaways from Maryland's win at Boston College


Yeah, I think you're being a little optimistic with McGee. He's still young, so he might get it. But so far, you'd have to say the evidence points to him not.

Blatche has been in the league long enough now that we've seen all he's got to offer. He's too soft to play inside all the time. He tries to lay it up when he's under the basket for heaven's sake.

Not that I don't like Blatche. I really, really do. But at the 3, not the 4. He's got the quickness to play at the 3, and his size is a huge asset for him there. At the 4, he's going to drift outside and be a liability. If we had a servicable defensive center and power forward Blatch would thrive.

And obviously, with questions at the 2 and the 3, you'd have to say we've got question marks at 4 of our 5 starting positions. Not a recipe for success.

Posted by: Matte | October 22, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

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