The Wizards blew a 17-point lead to the Indiana Pacers in Game 4 of the second round of the playoffs last season. It was still a good step but is this young team going to be a viable choice for NBA odds futures this year?
The Washington Wizards have a terrific backcourt which, if it stays together, is going to light up the NBA for a long time. John Wall is one of the fastest ballhandlers in the league, a player who is extremely hard to stop from getting to the rim once he gets his jets revved up. Wall is a force of nature who wills himself to get to the hoop. He has a quality similar to what Derrick Rose had before his injury, only with a little more speed and less upper-body strength. If Wall stays healthy, though, he’s going to be blowing by defenders for many years.
Wall has a great teammate to work with in the backcourt. Bradley Beal is a deadeye shooter with great range. He’s someone who stretches defenses and, with his presence on the wings, ensures that Wall has open space on the floor in which to operate. Wall and Beal would both be very solid players by themselves on an NBA roster, but together, they’re that much more effective, and they teamed up to lead the Wizards to a first-round playoff series win over the Chicago Bulls and their vaunted defense last spring. This is the heart of the Washington franchise.
In the offseason, the team got stronger by bringing aboard two veterans who do different kinds of things. Paul Pierce provides veteran leadership and a halfcourt presence which can help the Wizards with the ways in which they deploy personnel and spread the court. Pierce is the kind of wise veteran who can come up big in the playoffs, which is exactly why the Wizards got him. DeJuan Blair is a massive, thick rebounder who helped the Dallas Mavericks nearly upset the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of last season’s playoffs.
The Wizards are weak in the starting frontcourt. The backcourt is great, but the center and power forward positions are where this team suffers. Nene Hilario and Marcin Gortat are talented, but they’re not consistent. They come and go instead of being steady. They are both the kinds of players who will have a great night one night (usually not together, either; they split up their big nights) and then fall flat the next. Teams have to be able to have a strong interior player and a quality perimeter player in each and every game, and the Wizards’ frontcourt simply comes and goes much too often to lead this team to the very top of the Eastern Conference. Other teams have better centers and will expose the Wizards at this position.
The Wizards should be a top-five team in the East once again, but the question is if Washington can overtake Chicago, Miami, and Atlanta for the number two seed behind the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Wizards were the fifth seed last season, and a number four seed seems realistic this year, but is there enough consistency in the paint to make Washington any better than that for your NBA picks? Probably not. Let's take a look at some NBA odds.
NBA Odds To Win Division: 7/4
NBA Odds To Win Conference: 40/1
Regular Season Win Total: 50.5
NBA Prediction: 4th in Eastern Conference, out in the second round of the playoffs