Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, David Kay and Peter Christian of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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Washington Bullets (Last Year: 29-53)
2012-13 Season Summary:
The year got off to an immediately rocky start when the face of the franchise, John Wall, suffered a knee injury that caused him to pretty much miss the first half of the season. When Wall returned to 100%, he played at an All-Star level the final two months of the season and was a huge reason the Wizards went through a stretch in March in which they won 11 of 19 games which was encouraging, but also killed their draft position.
Washington also found its backcourt mate of the future for Wall in rookie Bradley Beal, who battled through injuries of his own during the season, but ended up third among all rookies in scoring. His play also allowed the Wizards to trade away Jordan Crawford for next to nothing since Crawford's reputation of being selfish was not earning him many fans in the District.
Saying the frontcourt was average at best is probably giving it too much praise. Newly acquired Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza didn't add much to the equation and combined with Nene, eat up about $33.8 million of Washington's salary cap. You are not going to win many games when that trio is getting crazy money and not nearly living up to the expectations.
Speaking of not living up to expectations, the Wizards' 2011 draft class of Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton has been horrific. Both players took steps back from less than stellar rookie seasons to the point where Washington turned to journeymen Martell Webster and Cartier Martin. Webster had a rejuvenation of sorts, providing some offensive punch on the wing.
All in all, Washington managed to produce its highest win total in five seasons ... winning just 29 games.
2013-14 Projected Depth Chart:
C: *Emeka Okafor/Kevin Seraphin
PF: Nene Hilario/Trevor Booker
SF: #Trevor Ariza/Chris Singleton/Jan Vesely
SG: Bradley Beal/^Garrett Temple
PG: John Wall
NBA Free Agents:
*C-Emeka Okafor (ETO)
#SF-Trevor Ariza (PO)
^SG-Garrett Temple (RFA)
SF-Martell Webster (UFA)
PF-Cartier Martin (UFA)
PG-A.J. Price (UFA)
C-Jason Collins (UFA)
SG-Leandro Barbosa (UFA)
2013-14 Team Salary: Approximately $58.1 million
NBA Offseason Team Needs:
1. Power Forward:
The Wizards had to use a "twin towers" approach up front last season by starting Okafor and Nene. Both guys are more suited for the center position, but because the power forward play was so pathetic, that was the team's best option. Kevin Seraphin and Trevor Booker are more suited as role players off the bench, and with Okafor entering the final year of his contract, Washington needs to find an upgrade at the power forward position.
2. Scoring Small Forward:
Ariza will also be a free agent next summer, and neither Singleton nor Vesely have shown any resemblance of being ready to take over this position in the future. Re-signing Webster is an option, but more of a short-term fix.
3. Guard Depth:
The Wizards used a handful of guys to fill in for Wall when he was banged up or in a reserve role once he returned to full strength. It would be wise for Washington to find a more reliable option to play behind Wall. The same could be said about the shooting guard position and Beal.
4. Lock Up Wall:
Wall is entering the final year of guaranteed money from his rookie contract and becomes a restricted free agent 12 months from now. He hasn't become an NBA superstar quite yet, but has shown flashes and is worth a max contract. There is no sense in playing around and waiting until next summer to see what happens, so Washington needs to jump the gun and lock up its franchise player.
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