Two consecutive years of battling against the very best teams that the Eastern Conference has to offer has resulted in two consecutive second round exits. The Wizards now enter the 2015-2016 season hoping to take the next leap by solidifying themselves as a force to be reckoned with atop of the conference, but to achieve this they’re going to need All-Star seasons from their blossoming youngsters.
When Paul Pierce left town to wear a Clippers uniform this offseason, the Wizards not only lost a big-time shot maker, but also an invaluable veteran presence in the locker room of a young and inexperienced squad. While his production may easily be replaced, the Pierce effect on guys like John Wall and Bradley Beal showed on and off the court in the play and confidence of the young gunners. The Wizards clearly sought to replace the future Hall of Famer’s presence by signing notable veterans Gary Neal, Jared Dudley and Alan Anderson. These players have come from different championship contenders and are all have impressive basketball résumés in their own right, but will it be sufficient for replace the 10-time NBA All-Star?
This veteran presence will be battle-tested almost immediately from opening night of the season. The Wizards are slated to play 14 competitions, half of which will come at the Verizon Center in D.C., where they previously finished 29-12. There will be no game more emotionally charged than that on November 28th, when the Toronto Raptors take a visit south of the border. The Raptors, embarrassed after their shocking 4-0 loss to the Wizards in the 2015 playoffs, are looking to seek revenge on John Wall and company with a retooled squad. Not only will the emotions between the two teams’ players, coaching staffs and fans will an entertaining bout in itself, but these two Eastern Conference giants are projected to have a real shot at meeting again this April. However, with Pierce’s absence in crunch time, who is going to step up for the Wizards in these moments?
While their consistent defensive has been nothing short of stellar, the Washington Wizards’ antique offensive system has been heavily criticized over the past few years. Head Coach Randy Wittman seemingly prefers the inefficient long 2-pointer (dubbed the worst shot in modern basketball by analytic lovers) as the teams’ primary means of buckets. The Washington Wizards addressed this by adding plethora of sharpshooters and athletic slashers. Many experts in the basketball world believe that the Wizards have the best shot in the East to dethrone LeBron James and the Cavs, but they still need some internal growth amongst guys like Beal and Porter to make it happen.
Courtesy of Bleacher Report