Addition of Paul Pierce will be a huge boost for the Wizards…
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With Washington Wizards pair John Wall and Bradley Beal seen as one of the best backcourts in the NBA, will they be able to live up to the tag this season?
The Wizards went 44-38 last season which saw them hang on to fifth spot in the Eastern Conference. In turn, that set up an opening round playoff series against the Chicago Bulls who were coping well without Derrick Rose, but it was the underdogs that came through.
Washington then took the Indiana Pacers to six games before their eventual series loss, but it was still the furthest that the franchise had gone in the post-season since 1979.
Some smart moves in the summer have the Wizards faithful optimistic about the new campaign, and when they aren’t dreaming about Kevin Durant joining them in 2016, they will see that they have some very impressive pieces on show already.
Talented Wizards team expected to lead the supporting cast behind Chicago and Cleveland
While there is no denying the talent on this Wizards roster, they still appear set to be in the race for third spot in the Eastern Conference given the improvements both the Bulls and Cavaliers have made.
John Wall developed his game significantly last season and was rewarded with an All-Star selection, while partner in crime in the backcourt, Bradley Beal, stunned many with his form in the post-season.
Although Beal will now miss the start of the new season with a broken left wrist, the 21-year-old is fast establishing himself as one of the best shooting guards in the NBA. While his assertion that he and Wall form the best backcourt in the league was rebuffed by many other pairings, they are certainly involved in the conversation.
Nevertheless, Wall, who averaged 19.3 points and 8.8 assists last season, will be one of many important pieces on this team in the coming year, with Marcin Gortat and Nene providing the presence and size up top.
The Wizards have gone 63-62 with Nene in the team and 21-43 without him, and although he doesn’t set the court alight on a nightly basis, those numbers prove just how much of a vital cog he is in this team. Gortat was similarly impressive last season and he will hope to pick up from where he left off as both hope to avoid injuries.
Washington will hope to see more from Andre Miller, Glen Rice and Otto Porter this season, but the addition of wily old veteran Paul Pierce is arguably the most impressive and important.
The 16-year NBA legend effectively replaces Trevor Ariza who joined the Houston Rockets, and although he is closing in on calling time on his career, Pierce is still a dangerous player and could fit in well with the players around him making up for the lack of athleticism.
As mentioned above, the Bulls and Cavaliers will be expected to slug it out for top spot in the East, and you will be hard pressed to find many people who disagree with that.
As a result, with the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers dealing with their respective losses this summer, third and below in the East is undoubtedly up for grabs. Washington certainly have enough to claim third, but along with the likes of the Toronto Raptors, it will be a real battle in that little mini group.
Wall predicted that the Wizards could make the Finals this year, but to do that they would have to go through the likes of LeBron James and Derrick Rose. While that seems a little out of reach this time round, it is undoubtedly a possibility in future years if they continue to progress.
For now, the Wizards may have to settle for another first or second round playoff showing, although if Beal lights up and Pierce adds the winning mentality needed at that level, they could exceed expectations once again.
PG: John Wall
SG: Bradley Beal
SF: Paul Pierce
C: Marcin Gortat
Sixth Man: Andre Miller