Washington Wizards Preview: Questions Heading Into The 2014-2015 NBA Season


The preseason (thankfully) has come to an end! We’re hours away from the start of the Washington Wizards’ season opening tilt with Dwyane Wade and the new look Miami HEAT. There was a strong sense of optimism heading into training camp, but nearly a month later there seem to be more questions than answers as the start to the season is upon us. Let’s take a quick look at the biggest questions facing each member of this roster.

John Wall: Will John Wall take the next step and become an elite player or will he plateau as an All-Star caliber player? At 24 years of age, the time is now. Elite players know the attention is geared towards them and still manage to play at a high level nightly. Their highs are high, and they avoid the low lows. Wall has had the highs, but he hasn’t been able to avoid the lows. Will we see his career pattern continue or will he realize the nightly approach it takes to be a great player?

Bradley Beal: In what was supposed to be Beal’s breakout season, he suffered a wrist injury that will keep him sidelined through the first month of the season. Will this injury be a setback that has Beal playing catchup for most of the season or will he be able to return at a high level and integrate himself into the lineup in the role that was envisioned for him?

Paul Pierce: How much is left in the tank? Paul Pierce is a savvy player and has adjusted his game as he’s aged, but eventually Father Time will catch up with him. Is this the year or can he hold him off for another 82+ games. He’s already been banged up a bit in the preseason, so this will be something to watch unfold.

Nene: Will Nene stay healthy (can’t I just copy and paste this and apply it to every year of Nene’s career?)? Everyone knows the answer, but will we get 50, 60, or 70 games out of Nene this year? The questions isn’t if he’ll miss time, it’s how much. A secondary question is will Nene be able to hit free throws this season. It was a huge problem for the Washington Wizards last season as he shot only 58.3% from the free throw line. Nene was 13 for 14 this preseason so you have to hope the small sample size in indicative of improvement in that aspect of his game.

Marcin Gortat: Will Gortat get an opportunity to play a bigger role in the offense? Gortat wants the ball more and made a point of it as he entered free agency. Will it materialize when the real bullets (or do I have to say Wizards?) start to fly?

Andre Miller: Professor Miller was great in a backup role last year after he came over from the Nuggets at the trade deadline. However with no other real backup point guard on the roste, what happens if John Wall has to miss some time? At 38 years old, I’m a bit skeptical. In his lone start of the preseason versus New Orleans, Miller struggled mightily in just 24 minutes of action. The offense stalled and he was ineffective getting the ball moving or creating his own offense.

Garrett Temple: With Garrett Temple in all likelihood getting the first crack at the starting shooting guard position with Bradley Beal out, will he be able to provide enough offense and shooting to space the floor properly and be more than just a placeholder until reserves come into the game?

Otto Porter: Will the Otto Porter we saw through Summer League and the preseason show up during the regular season? After a preseason opening dud versus Chicago, Porter went on to average 14.2ppg on 54.5% shooting from the field in the preseason. Will he be able to carry over that momentum and confidence now that the games count? Will he be given a great enough opportunity to do so with Paul Pierce healthy again and reclaiming his role in the starting lineup?

Glen Rice Jr.:  Similarly to Porter, the question is can Rice’s Summer League performance and early preseason play carry over into the regular season when the intensity level picks up? The ankle injury was a setback, but with Rice expected to be available for tonight’s opener it’s not an injury that should be viewed as a major setback entering the season. Additionally if Glen Rice Jr. does play significant minutes with the starters while Beal is out of action, will he be able to successfully knock down the 3-point field goal attempts Wall will create for him or is he more scorer than shooter?

DeJuan Blair/Kris Humphries/Kevin Seraphin/Drew Gooden: Which backup big will establish himself as the 1st to come off the bench? Kris Humphries has missed most of the preseason but has the most experience of the group. In the very first preseason game versus the Chicago Bulls, Humphries received the start in place of a resting Nene and was off to a good start before suffering a hand injury late in the first half.

Blair had an up and down preseason. It’s fair to question how the lack of spacing he provides clutters the offense and if he’s simply best playing that “high energy” reserve role. Kevin Seraphin had a strong preseason putting himself in the mix, but consistency, shot selection, and the ability to move the ball are still questions until we see a larger sample size. Drew Gooden provided a huge spark when he signed with the Washington Wizards late last season. That being said at 33 years old how much is left in the tank? (Why do I feel like I can say that about half the roster?)

Martell Webster: What impact will Webster’s 3rd back surgery have on his career? When he does return, will he look like the player that surprised many in 2012-2013, earning a multi-year deal with the Wizards? Or will we see results similar to the up and down nature of his play last year, which seem like they can be traced back to a hit he took versus the Lakers last November? The team is in dire need of his shooting so a healthy return would be welcome early in the season.

Randy Wittman: The offense looked sluggish throughout the preseason. Will Randy Wittman be able to create an offensive identity maximizes the potential of the many new parts he’s trying to fit together? Additionally will he be able to avoid a slow start, something which has plagued this team in its recent history (2-7 and 0-12 in Randy’s two seasons in charge). As Eddie Jordan said, “you’ve got to harvest your nuts right now”.

As with any season, there are a lot more questions than answers. We have 82 games to watch this unfold. Time to buckle up and enjoy the ride!