Washington Wizards: Four Important Questions Before Season Opener


The Washington Wizards had a good, productive preseason (no major injuries!) and are looking to start the season off strong with a win at the Orlando Magic tomorrow night.

While we all saw the new and revamped offense that coach Randy Wittman put in place during the preseason slate of games, there are still some questions that could shape how the season turns out

Who is the starting power forward?

Coach Wittman started Kris Humphries at the power forward position for the whole preseason and the Washington Wizards looked good on offense with him in the game.

He provides spacing for center Marcin Gortat to operate and he has even gained a pretty reliable three point shot to keep the defenses honest from clogging the paint.

Where the picture gets a little murky is how are the Wizards going to look on the defensive end? We all know about Nene’s shortcomings: he’s moody if he doesn’t get the ball, he tends to fall in love with the jumper when he should be handling business in the paint, injuries….but Nene is one of the best defensive big men in the league.

With Nene in the lineup, the Wizards are one of the league’s best defensive teams and defense (not offense) has been one of the main reasons that the Wizards are now back in contention in the Eastern Conference.

Interestingly enough, Nene has looked solid this preseason — mainly with the second unit. Backup point guard Ramon Sessions and Nene are showing some good chemistry when they are paired in the lineup.

Coach Wittman did warn us that just because we see a lineup in the preseason, doesn’t mean it’s the lineup that will be used in the regular season. This situation will be worth watching.

How are injuries going to affect the free agent signings?

This past summer, two of the biggest free agents the Washington Wizards acquired were Alan Anderson and Jared Dudley. Both players were signed to fit into the new up-tempo style the Washington Wizards planned on utilizing this season.

Anderson and Dudley were brought in to counter some of what the Wizards lost when Paul Pierce signed with the Los Angeles Clippers. Both brings a similar skill set to The Truth. They both have a reliable three point shot, play solid defense and are great locker room guys.

They were going to provide depth on the wing behind Otto Porter as well as seeing some time at the four when the Wizards decide to go small.

When training camp kicked off, both players started off on the injured list. There hasn’t been any official word or timetable on Anderson’s return and Dudley played a few minutes in the Wizards’ last preseason game.

This is a big change from what was originally planned from these two going into the season. There were even some whispers that Dudley perhaps might be the starter in the season opener.

Anderson will now need to be eased into the lineup which is now a crowded house on the wing with Porter, Martell Webster, and Kelly Oubre all angling for minutes.

Can the Wizards find a way to utilize Blair?

During this preseason, DeJuan Blair has been playing like the player the Washington Wizards thought they were going to get last season. He is rebounding at a crazy rate, setting big time screens, and making all of the hustle plays he has been known to make in this league.

The problem is, will the Wizards use him?

Blair is a lot like a big running back in the NFL. The big running back may not be able to break away from the defense in the first few quarters, but by the fourth quarter, those two to three yard pickups turn into five and six yard gains. That logic applies to DeJuan Blair.

He could come into the game and provide quick energy sparks when the team needs him to come in. His previous team, the Dallas Mavericks, used him in a similar fashion and he would end up with maybe eight to 10 points and six or seven points in limited playing minutes.

Plus, with backup big man Kevin Seraphin signing with the New York Knicks in the off season, the Washington Wizards are small in the frontcourt. Hopefully the Wizards can incorporate DeJuan ‘Grizzly’ Blair into the plan.

Think of the marketing capabilities!

Can the Wizards stay focused?

Most of the positive buzz that currently surrounds the Washington Wizards is because how good they looked dismantling the “favored” Toronto Raptors and how they were possibly a John Wall broken wrist away from upsetting the top seeded Atlanta Hawks.

The dirty little secret behind the Wizards last year was that they went into the new year with one of the East’s best records (who can forget the showcase that the Wall and the Wizards put on during the Christmas Day game), but started to slide back to reality in the months of January and February.

Bradley Beal got hurt, coach Wittman was inexplicably sitting Gortat in the fourth quarter of crucial games and the schedule got harder. It was obvious that the Eastern Conference had a down year last season and you could go on losing streaks and back your way into the playoffs (Boston anyone?), but this year will be different.

There looks to be ten legit Eastern Conference teams that should be in contention to make the playoffs. Also, with the playoff seeding changes, the road to making the playoffs just got tougher.

Next: Can Wall Take The Next Step Towards Superstardom?

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