- NBA Rank: 19
Conference Rank: 9
- Washington Wizards
"Dumbledore says people find it far easier to forgive others for being wrong than being right."
— Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, J.K. Rowling
This offseason, the Wizards confirmed that they are now what we call in soccer parlance a buying team. John Wall got paid. They brought in another high draft pick. They lost a big man to injury and they went out and replaced him even before the season started.
My old friend, Ted Leonsis wants to win now. Rightly or wrongly, they believe they finally have the pieces to climb out of the NBA slums and move up to lofty spheres of the NBA middle class on the road. I actually thought last year was going to be when they made this move before being derailed by injury.
Will they succeed? They're going to need a bit of luck and maybe a bit of magic but they're sure as heck going to try.
I have history with the Wizards. Before the 2010-11 season I got into a bit of an internet tussle with their owner. I speculated they might be the worst team in NBA history and that John Wall was not a good pick if he wanted to contend right away. He took offense. I will admit I was wrong, the Wizards were terrible but not the worst in NBA History (that honor belongs arguably to that year's Bobcats).
I was also right in that John Wall was too young to contribute meaningfully under his rookie contract. Wall's Wins Produced per 48 minutes have been right in the middle of his rookie projection. He looks like a guy who will be a good player at his peak but getting his rookie contract was not a great value. Actually, the comp I used for him was Russell Westbrook. That still applies, right down to the knee injuries for both and how they both are good but overvalued.
However things did pick up for the Wizards last year.
|A.J. Price ||1278||26||.079||2.1|
|Jordan Crawford ||1127||25||.040||1.4|
|Cartier Martin ||694||28||.046||.7|
|Shaun Livingston ||320||28||.141||4.3|
|Shelvin Mack ||141||23||.050||.4|
|Earl Barron ||122||31||-.052||-.1|
|Jannero Pargo ||102||34||-.082||-.9|
Indicates that the player is no longer with the team.
As mentioned, I liked this roster before the season started to contend in the East for 5-8 seed. Then the injuries set in. Wall and Nene who were both critical to their expected success missed a bunch of time. Poor Bradley Beal was put in the position of leading this team before he was truly ready. It is important to note that this team had the worst luck of any team last season; losing a full six games more than their point diefferential indicated. That of course may have been intentional.
Had they been healthy, I think 40-45 would have been just about right for that roster.
|Eric Maynor ||1.3||669||26||.023||.3|
|Al Harrington ||4.5||393||33||-.077||-.6|
Indicates that the player is new to the team.
I was set to call this team a borderline playoff team. That's what the chart above shows Then Okafor went down. I was all set to bemoan the fact that this team was doomed to be below .500 for lack of a center because of the Okafor injury and they went out an got basically an equivalent center in Gortat for him. And thus, we got to have fun with yet another projection for the Wizards. Has Gortat helped out?
This Year Take 2 after Gortat
|Martin Gortat ||5.0||2552||29||.147||7.8|
|Eric Maynor ||1.3||384||26||.023||.2|
Indicates that the player is new to the team.
I'm having to make some educted guesses as to the final shape of the roster but the Gortat trade is enough to solidly puth this Wizards team in the 5-8 seed conversation barring any other injuries. They also have a lot of potential given that they have some very young players in their core group (Wall, Beal and Porter). If one of these young bucks makes the jump this team is a serious threat to go 45 wins or over.
While, I really don't get why Washington felt the need to overpay for Wall, I actually love the fact that they've got three exciting young players in Wall, Beal and Porter to build around. I think there's going to be areal logjam of young and interesting teams in the East's second tier (Cavs, Raptors, Wizards and Celtics) and I think one or two of them will make the leap.
Given how they're constructed I think the Wizards have a chance but one of their kids has to become a man.
The Second Opinion Dre disagrees
I like the Gortat move. What's important to realize is that it was a last second desperation play. While the Wizards did draft well, I've been underwhelmed with everything since then. Al Harrington?? Really? Somehow Arturo thinks he won't play on Earth 2, but I don't buy it. The Wizards overpaid Wall, and signed two bad players.
Going forward my optimism is iffy on this team. They have Nene and Wall taking the lion's share of their cap for the foreseeable future. Gortat's contract is up this year and we'll see if they're willing to eat all of their remaining cap space to re-sign him. Maybe they trade Wall in a season or two for some great assets. Maybe they get out of Nene's contract. Until then, I don't expect much out of the Wizards.
The Third Opinion Arturo reruns the full model
So I decided to clean up all the rosters after final cuts and rerun the models. Here's the result for the wizards:
|Wizards Take 3|
|Player||Team||Age||Pos||Pos||Rot||MPG||Min||Simple WP48||Simple Wins|
|Full Model Wins||43.7|
|Under Prob||Over Prob||Div odds||#1 Seed||Top #4 Seed||Playoffs|
Get bullish in DC.