The Washington Wizards burst onto the scene in the NBA this past season, defeating the highly-regarded Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs. But we know that was without Derrick Rose. Is this team offering any value on the NBA odds and can they go deeper in 2015?
2014-15 Regular Season Total: 49.5
Why the Wizards Will Go Over the Number
The Washington Wizards really have a nice blend of players, better than what they had a season ago. First of all, the main guys are still around. John Wall and Brad Beal form a dynamite 1-2 punch in the backcourt which should enable the Wizards to be a playoff fixture in the Eastern Conference for many years to come. Wall is so fast in the open court and can beat so many defenders off the dribble. Beal has one of the better-looking jump shots in the game and has the range needed to stretch defenses to the perimeter, thereby opening up more of the floor for Wall to operate as a ballhandler and a facilitator of the Wizards’ offense.
Washington was decent last year on offense because of Wall and Beal. While a lot of Eastern Conference teams averaged under 100 points, Washington averaged a little more. The West had most of the teams with more than 100 points, so Washington merely finished 16th in the league. Yet, the Wizards were able to get baskets more consistently than other East teams, and that helped them both in the regular season and the playoffs. This team was a solid ninth in field goals made and tenth in field goal percentage. It was fifth in three-point percentage, directly due to Beal. It was eighth in two-pointers made and eighth in assists. Those numbers should remain steady with this tremendous backcourt.
Now, though, the Wizards have made two additions for the coming season that should help them improve even more. Paul Pierce is an old but wise veteran who will serve as a kind of player-coach on the court. DaJuan Blair will give this team so much quality rebounding and defense after coming over from Dallas with the Mavericks. Washington looks really balanced, and Blair’s arrival should help this team improve over being 20th in the league in rebounding a season ago.
Why the Wizards Will Stay Under the Number
Pierce could be a drag on this up-tempo team on offense. He could be an odd fit, and the kind of guy who might not help the Wizards during the regular season. Washington might have picked him up for the playoffs more than anything else, so that’s something to keep in mind when you think about betting on the Wizards relative to their regular season win total and not their playoff possibilities. The Wizards are also in an Eastern Conference that has gotten tougher. Indiana won’t be as good, but Cleveland will be better for sure. Miami won’t be as good, but Chicago should be better. Toronto will be better because of its added experience. Atlanta will be better if Al Horford remains healthy. Charlotte should be better because of Lance Stephenson, coming over from Indiana. Detroit should be better with Stan Van Gundy coming in as head coach. Plenty of obstacles could limit Washington’s progress this season.
When having to make a decision on this team, the lessons learned from a tough series loss to Indiana in last spring’s East semifinals could really benefit Washington this season. The Wizards’ offense ground to a halt against the Pacers and their physical halfcourt defense. Washington should be better equipped to deal with that kind of a challenge. This team could actually win the Southeast Division and displace the Miami Heat. If Washington does win the Southeast, it will probably wind up with at least 50 wins. Therefore, the over is the better call here for your NBA picks.
NBA Pick: Over 49.5 at 5Dimes