The Wizards have worlds to go before they can be mentioned in even the same breath as even the lower tier teams in the Eastern Conference. They been cellar dwellers.
Their franchise player, John Wall, is still finding his way as an NBA point guard, and several other Wizards leave a lot to be desired (That means you Andray Blatche). With the addition of Bradley Beal, though,the Wizards could have a top-10 backcourt.
It really all comes down to how they do on interior. Emeka Okafor is undersized and Nene is no longer a young piece around which a team could be built. The Wizards have a nice 1-2-3 trio too, with Chris Singleton being a legit NBA defender, even one who drew comparisons to NBA legend Scottie Pippen. Singleton called himself the best defender in his draft class, and I think many would be hard pressed to negate that claim.
Throw in some other talented young guys, Shelvin Mack, Jan Vesely, and starting shooting guard Jordan Crawford, and the Wizards could be a team we talk about in three or four seasons. It’s a long term window for the Wizards, but rebuilding is a real thing here. With a strong four guard rotation, a number of good defenders (Nene, Trevor Ariza, Singleton) at the forward position.
The development of John Wall is going to be crucial, though. He must realize at this point he is becoming an NBA veteran who has the ability to lead a team. He’s in his third year now and averaged 16 points per game and 8 assists per game in his first two seasons, with 1.8 and 1.4 steals per game between the two seasons. That puts him in pretty elite company. He was 10th in assists in 2010-11 and 4th in assists last year. He was 5th in minutes played, 7th in steals, played all 66 games, and has shown himself to be in the top tier of guards.
Is he on the same plane as Deron Williams, Chris Paul, and Derrick Rose? No, but he is in that next tier with Kyle Lowry, Jeremy Lin, Jeff Teague, Kyrie Irving, and Ty Lawson. I would throw Wall ahead of all those second tier guards except for Lowry, and possibly Lin.
The fact remains, Wall is the most gifted athlete of all those elite point guards except for Derrick Rose, and that should render him in the top two or three point guards in the league. What is preventing that? Why isn’t Wall on the same level as Paul and Williams? Or even his athletic equivalent Derrick Rose (Though make no mistake, Rose is a better athlete)?
There is just so much Wall has yet to grasp mentally, and one of the biggest of those things is that he is capable of taking over games. He hasn’t tried. He was 8th in the league in free throw attempts with 402 last year. Getting to the line like that and hitting at a 78% clip should make him a go to player. If he could get up over 82%, he would be golden.
But it isn’t all on Wall. Wall is the key, make no mistake, but they have to get something out of Blatche. He’s being paid too much to do nothing. There’s just a problem when you are counting on head case second round picks to carry your team. We’ll look more at the Wizards in my next piece regarding which team is likely to sniff the playoffs between Washington, Charlotte, and Orlando.