Washington Wizards’ 2017-2018 Regular Season Schedule Released

The Washington Wizards are coming off a 49-33 season, and a second-round playoff exit against the Boston Celtics that went to seven games. During the offseason, the front office did what it promised to do when they retained restricted free agent Otto Porter, as well as resign John Wall to the designated player veteran exception.

With a core of Wall, Bradley Beal, and Porter in place the Wizards present and future looks as bright as its ever been. Not to mention the sudden dissension going on in Cleaveland, the Wizards are primed to advance further than they have in recent memory. After a strong first year with Scott Brooks at the helm, expectations of the first 50 win season since 1978-1979 campaign and an Eastern Conference Finals appearance are widespread.

National Exposure:

In a show of good faith, the  NBA schedule makers have finally rewarded the Washington Wizard with the gift of seventeen nationally televised games. Out of those seventeen games, all four matchups with the Boston Celtics will be on TV for everyone to see. The two franchises had one of the most physical playoff series last season, and its easy to see why the NBA would want to capatalize on the purest rivalry in the sport right now. Fans will be pleased to see that three out of the four games against the Cleaveland Cavaliers will be on that national schedule as well. After the overtime thriller they had last season, any regular season contest between the conference foes is potential must-see tv.

Predictions:

For 2017-2018 the Wizards are essentially running it back with the same core group of guys in Wall, Beal, Porter, Markieff Morris, and Marcin Gortat. The starting lineup played a league leading 1,347 minutes together. With that type of continiuty and chemistry coming back, the starters must have even more confidence in each other on both sides of the court.

The bench mob was also upgraded with some solid talent in Tim Frazier and Jodie Meeks. The two guards have the offensive chops to really be able to give Wall and Beal a chance to rest. Kelly Oubre Jr is now in that pivotal third year, Ian Mahinmi is coming back injury free, and the ever solid Josh Smith to hit feathery jumpers. The hope is that after averaging only 27 PPG as a unit last season, the Wizards bench mob can only improve from here. Scott Brooks needs this unit to really step up and play consistently solid minutes in order to get over that hump. Being the weak link once again is a non-option.

Record Prediction: 52-30

Along with the Wizards schedule, the Association released the regular season schedules of the 29 other franchises this past Monday, including its nationally televised games. In one of the more intriguing developments of the offseason, the Association has no teams playing four games in five nights. This was all because a plethora of star players sat out marquee games, as well as critical comments by Golden State Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr. 

Wizards Win In Overtime vs Kings Behind Bradley Beal’s 31 points.

It took a little longer than expected but the Washington Wizards won their sixth game of the season in overtime. DeMarcus Cousins nearly won the game with his spectacular 36 points and 20(!) rebounds. He was able to take the game over late in the 4th quarter hitting a variety of turnaround jump shots, layups, and dominating the boards. The Wizards dynamic backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal combined for 10 points in the overtime session and helped deliver a much needed W after a disappointing loss against the San Antonio.

Tensions were high once again as Scott Brooks, John Wall, and Marcin Gortat all picked up technical could in the first half. This is Wall’s fourth tech of season, which puts him behind former college teammate DeMarcus Cousin. For the night the rest of the starters played well, in particular ever-improving glue guy Otto Porter  had 15 points, 8 rebounds, and played the passing lanes well gathering 3 steals. Porter also continued to do the dirty work on the unsung glue guy, holding Rudy Gay to just 18 points, including forcing him into six turnovers and 1-4 performance from the 3-point line. Kelly Oubre notched his first career double picking up 10 rebounds to go along with 10 points. .

The Wizards Commit 24 turnovers, Including a career-high 11 from John Wall

24 times the Wizards turned the ball over. 24 times! Nine of those turnovers were unforced. What’s worse is John Wall, the All-Star and leader of this team, had 11 of his own. Now more so than ever Wall has been throwing ill timed passes and dancing around the ball like it’s no ones business. Not sure what needs to be done but Wall, who previously has been a strong decision maker, has to find his groove back in that department

Wizards Finally Defend the 3-point Line

The Wizards have routinely allowed teams to make double digit 3-pointers but tonight only allowed three to fall. That maybe due to the fact that along with the Wizards, the Kings are one of the worse 3-point shooting teams.

 

 

Wizards Snap 3-Game Losing Streak Against Knicks 119-112

The Hop – After inexcusably losing to the lowly Philadelphia 76ers the Wizards were able to exercise their frustration on the New York Knicks. John Wall dropped 23 points to go along with his 11 assists, and Bradley Beal added 18 points in his return after a 3-game absence due to injury. On a night where everything clicked for the struggling Wizards, they dominated in a second half and led by as many as 27. Of course the Wizards had to make it look respectable and give their fans a scare when they let the Knicks get to within 9 points of a seemingly insurmountable lead. John Wall came to the rescue and closed the game with a pull-up jumper and free throws.

The Wizards started off slowly going 1-6 out the gate until John Wall took control of the offense and was dolling out dimes like usual. All it took was consecutive 3-pointers from Beal and Otto Porter for the flood gates to open. Holding Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis in check was one of the biggest factors in the win. Otto Porter and Markieff Morris both did splendid jobs being physical and not allowing either Porzingis or Anthony to get comfortable. Otto Porter in particular actually had probably the best game out of the all Wizards player. He was constantly battling and playing with intensity all over the field. He fits the role of a glue guy perfectly. The bench also bucked their trend of uneven play with strong nights from players like Marcus Thornton, Kelly Oubre, and Tomas Satoransky. When the bench is clicking and playing well in conjunction with the starters the Wizards are even scarier. Although they did allow the Knicks to get back in the game they more than held their own and weren’t a liability.

3-Pointers Galore:

The Wizards entered this game only averaging six made 3’s game. With the return of Bradley Beal the Wiz enjoyed an amazing performance from beyond the arc. Going 15/25 will be a huge confidence boot and will hopefully hold over to the Saturday night game against the Miami Heat.

Bradley Beal’s Hamstring

Hamstring injuries are never the easiest injuries to recover from. It’s even harder the older you get. During the game he did beat Courtney Lee and Carmelo Anthony for a fast break layup, but also got beat for a fast break layup after missing a corner 3. He went on to acknowledge that playing with a gimpy hamstring was a challenge but left room for optimism.” “It’s tough with a hamstring because it’s not going to all the way clear up on you. You’re not going to go back to 100 percent; you’re going to have to work through some things. I was able to tolerate some soreness and stiffness, and it actually feels a little bit better, too.”

 

 

Butler’s 37 drops Wizards in 2nd straight loss

With the the starting  backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal absent due to surgery rehab, and injury respectively, the Wizards had a tough game ahead of them. The rookie backcourt of the Tomas Satoransky and Sheldon McClellan played well and fearlessly together. In fact on multiple possessions Satoransky and Marcin Gortat displayed a unique chemistry together. ” A eastern European thing” as Gortat called it at halftime. The Wizards, in the first quarter, started off well grabbing 21-12 before Jimmy Butler and Isaiah Cannon took over and sparked a 10-run and took the lead 22-21. They ended up winning the 1st quarter 28-27. The second quarter was a back and forth affair. Late in the quarter the Wizards went on their own run, an 11-0 one to be exact. With the lengthy scoring and strong defense they took a 56-53 lead into  half time.

The second half was a complete disaster for the Wiz and company. The Bulls defense dominated, holding the Wizards to only 14 points. Combine their smoothering defense with a balanced attack and you have the recipe for a hard earned lead going into the 4th quarter  81-70. In the final frame the Wizards played with more passion and played like they knew what was at stake. The closest they pulled to was seven points, but from then on Butler took over and the Bulls defense played better and pulled out 106-95 victory.

Satoransky and McClellan Proving To Be Hidden Gems:

With their first career starts, Tomas Satoransky and Sheldon McClellan became the first rookie starting backcourt for the Wizards since John Wall and Jordan Crawford did in 2010-2011. The two young guns had pretty solid games, Satoransky dropped 12 points along with 9 spectacular dimes. Meanwhile McClellan had 15 points, attacking when he had the opportunity and not allowing himself to make silly mistakes. Their development and confidence will be pivotal for nights when John Wall and/or Bradley Beal are out.

Bench Struggles Again:

In what has become a recurring storyline for the Wizards the bench struggled mightily. Trey Burke, in particular, was having a hard time running the offense and it created problems for the rest of the bench. Only producing 18 points, 10 boards, and 4 assists exasperated the issue. It will be interesting to see how they respond to Marcin Gortat’s comments about ” being the worse bench in the NBA”.

Wizards Blow Out Celtics Behind Otto Porter’s 34 points

The Hop-Even with Bradley Beal getting hurt(again) , the Wizards gained their second win of the season behind Otto Porters big time 34 points and the team hitting 10 3-pointers. John Wall chipped in 19 with 7 assists and pulled his weight, and Marcus Thornton filled in admirably after Bradley Beal got hurt late in the 1st quarter.

The Wizards seemingly channeled all their frustrations over the loss to the Rockets and the results of the election and unleashed the might of God onto the Boston Celtics. Playing quite possibly their best first quarter on both sides of the ball as they thrashed the Celtics 34-8. In the second quarter they were outscored 35-24 but the game was never in doubt.

The second half was more of the same as the Wiz just continued to play with never before seen emotion and togetherness on a night where a win would seemingly soothe the angst of the DMV. For the game the Wizards outpaced the Celtics in every stat. They out rebounded 54-31, including 19 on the offensive side. They also assisted on 29 of 46 made baskets. On the defensive side they stole the ball 10 times and blocked seven shots.

This will hopefully be the confidence booster the struggling Wizards need against the defending champion Cavaliers. Stay tuned here to The Hop to get a recap of that game.

 

Otto Porter Headed For a Breakout Season?

Otto Porter has emerged as the key glue guy and a good 3rd option for the Wizards offense. He’s been able to score in double digits in all but one game. He’s been cutting to the basket and hitting more spot-up jumpers has opened up the floor for his teammates. Doing the things that don’t necessarily show up in the box score and making winning plays. Porter in his three prior seasons had difficulty finding his role and confidence but now in his fourth year seems to have things clicking for him.

Will Bradley Beal Be Available to Play Against the Cavaliers?

The injury-prone Bradley Beal has once again gone down. This time suffering from hamstring tightness. The Wizards announced that he would be a game time decision but hamstring injuries don’t go away in two days. My personal optimism as far as his availability goes isn’t very high.

What’s Going on With John Wall?

For the second time in as many games John Wall was ejected. This time it was for a flagrant 2 foul late in the 4th quarter with the game basically sealed up? Wall has to be incredibly frustrated with not only the teams slow start, but things off the court. Even though he said he wasn’t ” worried about other players pockets” and claimed he wasn’t upset about the massive shoe deal James Harden it’s clear the perceived slights of his career are getting to him. He has to figure out how to channel that anger and use it on the court.

Wizards Drop Tough Loss To Rockets 114-108

The Hop – Despite John Wall breaking the franchise record for assists and leading the Rockets by 11, the Wizards dropped a game to the Rockets. The Rockets won behind another outstanding performance from James Harden, who scored 32 points and passed out 15 assists. The Rockets also made 17 3-pointers, with Ryan Anderson  and Trevor Ariza leading the way with five and four 3-pointers respectively.

In the first half the Wizards raced out to a quick 6-0 lead again gave up a big run after grabbing a 11 point lead early in the 2nd quarter. Once James Harden came back in the Rockets offense started clicking immediately going on a 16-0 run before Otto Porter scored to end the Wizards drought.

In a highly competitive and entertaining second half the Wizards and Rockets went back and forth for some hard earned buckets. Unfortualty for the Wiz, James Harden forced his will in the second half, looking to score more than he did than in the previous half. In fact he scored 22 smooth points while also continuing to make his teammates better with his incredible playmaking.

It seems as tho head coach Mike D’antoni has found the perfect role for the bearded left-hander as the Rockets permanent point guard.

 

Defending the 3-point Line:

The Wizards again gave up way to many 3-pointers. In all the painful losses of the young season the Wizards have given up an average of 11.4 3-pointers. Most of these plays result based off the Wizards pick and roll coverage. In the instance of the Rockets, sharpshooter Ryan Anderson popped to the 3-point line knowing  that the Wizards big men were uncomfortable playing defense that far from the basket. The Wizards must find a new resolve to run guys off the 3-point line otherwise they will continue to get punished from beyond the arc.

The Bench Rises to the Occassion:

Way to often in the Wizards prior losses the bench was the weakest links. This time around Kelly Oubre led the way off the bench with 10 points, while Marcus Thornton chipped in 8 of his own. Combined that with stronger defense and the emergence of Tomas Satoransky as the best option for 6th man and playing at least one starter and it seems that the Wizards are figuring out their bench woes.

 

Beal’s 28 points lead to Wizards Earn First Win Against Hawks

The Hop- Led by Bradley Beal’s 28 points and John Wall’s 21/10/6 line the Wizards earned their first victory of the season against the Hawks. The Wiz finally put a full 48 minutes together that showcased their potential. They played tough physical defense, attacked the boards, and shot well from the free throw line. This is exactly the type of identity building game that the Wizards needed.

The first time the Wizards played the Hawks, the frontline of Dwight Howard of Paul Millsap dominated, combining for 39 points, 26 rebounds, and 4 blocks. This time around the Wizards did a collective job of boxing out both Millsap and Howard, they even won the rebound battle and playing physical defense against Paul Millsap and Dwight Howard. On the perimeter instead of allowing 12 3-pointers, the Wizards only allowed two 3-pointer in the first half, and four for the game. Even when the Hawks responded from being 9-0 to momentarily taking the lead 18-17 off a Dwight Howard lob, the Wizards didn’t falter under the pressure. The bench even played well, although they didn’t score much, they meshed well when playing with at least one starter and didn’t cost the team as much as they did in prior games.

In the second half it was Bradley Beal turn to wake the monster inside of him. In the final 24 minutes Beal scored 20 points. On a variety of 3-pointers, free throws, and drives Beal dominated and broke out of his slump. The Wizards continued to lockdown the Hawks perimeter attack and controlled the glass and neutralized the threat of Dwight Howard.

The formula of physical defense, collective rebounding/boxing out, and getting Bradley Beal allowed will be the formula that will Wizards win games and allow them to advance in the playoffs. They must be able to put together more games like this one in order to climb the Eastern Conference heirarchy to even have a chance against teams like the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers.

Can Beal Finally String Along Some Strong Games:

If you asked anyone pregame how they were expecting Bradley Beal to preform, most would tell you that he was due for a breakout game. Beal met those expectations with his 28 points, staying aggressive hitting 13-15 free throws to make up for inefficiency with his jumper. Combined with the Wizards playing with a sense of urgency and playing harder than they have all season.

Turnover Woes:

The Wizards committed  19 inexcusable turnovers. Most of those came from players attempting to do much with the ball or going for big plays instead of just simple passes. Turnovers have recently have become such a bad issue that Scott Brooks has to be more than concerned. Turning the ball over that frequently against the teams like the Cavs will be a death sentence. Scott Brooks has to do a better job of preaching patience and ball security to his team.

Washington Wizards vs Memphis Grizzlies Recap

After dropping the season opener and 2 days of rest got off to another slow start, shooting 5/20 out the gates. Missing easy lay ups and open jumpers has been plaguing this teams efficiency, as well as the middling defense. In fact the Wizards in the 1st half alone allowed the Grizzlies to shoot 51% from the field including 9/18 from beyond the arc. On the positive side is that the Wizards did continue to play with active steals forcing 9 turnovers, 5 of which where steals. They also continue to push the pace when possible, as John Wall was a freight train in transition attacking the basket and at one point converting two and 1 opportunities twice in a row. Bradley Beal had a strong first half scoring inside and out to the tone of 10 points.

In the second half it was a lot more back and forth, as both benches provided strong play and the offenses were clicking. John Wall continued attacking the paint and drawing in defenders as he is so apt to do, as everyone did their part on both ends mostly to contain the Grizzlies offense. The Wizards split the scoring pretty evenly, as their starters all scored in the double digits and the bench scored 26 points. They mostly turned the tide as they only allowed 5 more triples, and began to even out the rebounding battle. The Wizards grabbed an 8 point late in the 4th quarter but the Big 3 from Memphis started making plays. Mike Conley hit a fast break layup, Marc Gasol hit timely 3s and played great defense and Zach Randolph provided his usual toughness. Once the Grizzlies brought it to within a one possession game after a couple John Wall free throws, Marc Gasol hit the game tying 3 that forced overtime. In that overtime period the Grizz rode to Gasol to all but two of their overtime points, as they rode their tidal wave to a hard earned victory. ‘

The Wizards Defense Struggling:

In the first two games of the season the Wizards have already allowed 27 triples and are getting out rebounded by 19 rebounds. Although the backcourt does a good job of staying active with their hands they to often do not fight over screen, and they also get caught ball watching getting beat on backdoors or not getting back on defense to stop easy layup and 3 point shots. In order for the Wizards to get their first win they must improve finishing off defensive possessions and defending the arc better.

Offense Struggling Out the Gate:

In both games this season the Wizards have struggled mightily in the opening period. They have gotten out to slow starts missing easy shot after shot. It’s a strange anomaly but John Wall and Bradley Beal especially must find a way to shake any nerves or cobwebs to help their offense improve, because they are the main catalyst of this offense.

John Wall Can’t Seem to Protect the Ball:

Wall has 25 assists vs 20 turnovers right now. For an All-Star point guard and the man that holds the keys to this offense Wall must do better to make better decisions and protect the ball for the Wizards to be the best they can offensively.

Upcoming is the Eastern Conference finals Toronto Raptors, which also happens to be the home opener of the season.

 

Washington Wizards vs Atlanta Hawks Recap

The Washington Wizards’ season finally starts Thursday evening against the Atlanta Hawks. We have two key match-ups in Marcin Gortat going up against former teammate Dwight Howard, and John Wall vs first yea starter Denis Schroder. Tip off starts at 7:30 and  I hope you enjoy the upcoming season Wizards season.

First Half Recap:

In the back and fort the Atlanta Hawks were able to capitalize on the Wizards defense inability to finish defensive possessions. Dwight Howard in particular was able to collect 15(!)boards by himself, 7 of them offensive. The Hawks in general have dominated the boards 33-21, and were able to parlay 12 offensive rebounds into 15 second half points.  So far the Atlanta front court has played excellently, combining for 25 points. Meanwhile we saw the Wizards pushing the pace frequently, relying on spacing to open the floor for Beal and John Wall to drive and dish.  Their active hands have forced 11 turnovers, and have created numerous transition opportunities. Despite committing 3 fouls Bradley Beal was staying in attack mode in the half court looking for his shot or initiating some offense, showing off his improved playmaking. Markieff Morris also played a solid 1st dominating in the mid range with this feathery jump shot and playing strong positional defense. John Wall struggled to the tone 0f 1-9 but played hard on the other end, and making sure to remain the great playmaker he is.

Second Half Recap:

The Wizards did  an outstanding job getting more physical and tough in the paint, not allowing the Dwight Howard to control the paint like in the first half. The Wizards continued to play active defense in spurts, that helped the offense as they continued their first half trend of attacking in transition. The bench was not able to keep it up this as they struggled heavily in the game, with few bright moments coming from Trey Burke and Andrew Nicholson. The Hawks took advantage of an inconsistent 4th quarter performance utilizing their superior length and shooting and making the Wizards backup guards uncomfortable and forcing turnovers .The back and forth game was busted open in the last 10 minutes as the Wizards starting to play sloppy turning the ball over and not getting back on defense. Tim Hardaway Jr. and Thabo Sefolosha both benefitted, as they got out in transition for 3 point buckets and thunderous dunks. Hawks ended up hitting 12 threes and they forced the Wizards into 19 turnovers. By the time Bradly Beal and John Wall checked back in the Hawks already had an insurmountable lead. At this point the team had body language and essentially gave up, in a game that was tight for so long turnovers and bad 3-point defense buried this promising franchise. The Wizards have to stay committed on the defensive end, remaining active and making sure they take advantage of their speed and athleticism. You have to finish defensive possession otherwise guys like Dwight Howard will manhandle the interior. Finally it is imperative that the bench not lay an egg and force head coach Scott Brooks to put players back in before he wants. In order to run an uptempo offense you have to have a bench that can replace that production of the starters and hold leads and maintain the defensive intensity and focus.

With the first game out of the way Scott Brooks and the Wizards have some things to work on and hammer home for the next game against the Grizzlies.

 

NBA 2016-2017 Season Eastern Conference Preview & Predictions

The NBA season is right around the corner, starting off with the Knicks v.s Cavaliers on Tuesday night. Per usual the Cleveland Cavaliers are of course the favorites to come out the conference for the 3rd year in a row. The Cavaliers lost key players when Timofey Mozgov and  Matthew Dellavedova, but were order to retain indispensable players  LeBron James as well as J.R. Smith As for the rest of the Conference there was major losses and additions across the board. We saw longtime franchise stars like Dwyane Wade and Al Horford leaving for the Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics respectively. With the sudden influx of money players like Bradley Beal, DeMar DeRozan, and Andre Drummond benefitted the most and signed big money contracts to stay with their franchises. After preseason study and research it’s time to roll the red carpet for my predictions for this new NBA season.

The Playoff Teams:

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers:

After a long and needed offseason the reigning NBA champions haven’t changed much. They offset the losses of Matthew Dellavedova and Timofey Mozgov by adding Kay Felder in the draft and signing  Chris “Birdman” Anderson as well as Mike Dunleavey to add perimeter shooting. Resigning LeBron James, J.R. Smith, and Richard Jefferson was of course the main and completed priority. With their same starting 5 and an improved supporting cast the Cavs will look to run the table once again and return to the NBA Finals. w

2. Toronto Raptors

The Toronto Raptors are coming off a franchise best season and didn’t lose a lot of production when playoff darling Bismack Biyombo left for the Orlando Magic in free agency. Dwane Casey will continue to lean on Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan as well as giving an eager Jonas Valanciunas plenty of touches in the paint as an underrated third scoring option. Along with a improved bench and shooting the Raptors are being slept on as one of the better and balanced in the NBA. Look for the franchise north of the border to repeat or improve on last seasons success.

3.  Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics had an interesting offseason. Despite losing Evan Turner and Jared Sullinger in the offseason, and not being able to capitalize on their plethora of draft picks, they were still able to sign All-Star big man Al Horford and get thrust into the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference. Add Brad Stevens with the developing youth and veteran leadership this proud franchise has signed over the past couple offseasons and this is a team with the potential to be  Top 10 defense and offense this season.  

4. Indiana Pacers

This is officially Paul George’s team. Larry Bird has signed and traded for players that will help this offense into the modern era. Instead of George Hill and Lance Stephenson, the backcourt is occupied by Jeff Teague and Monta Ellis. Myles Turner has replaced Roy Hibbert at the center. And while Paul George has kept his spot at small forward, the power forward spot is now owned by Thaddeus Young. Gone are the gritty and defensive teams from the Conference Finals teams. Team President Larry Bird has gifted Paul George the talent that best suits his unique skill set, what happens next is up to Paul George.

5. Miami Heat

Gone are Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and Luol Deng. Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic usher in a new era for this Heat franchise. The biggest x-factor for this team will be who fills in at the small forward and shooting guard spot. Dion Waiters was signed in Wayne Ellington, along with Josh Richardson  and Tyler Johnson should make for an interesting rotation at the 2-gaurd spot. At the small forward Heat fans will be waiting to see how much Justise Winslow has improved over the summer. If he can find his 3 point stroke and continue to play strong defense then he has potential to be one of the stronger 3-D wings in the league. Hassan Whiteside finally his contract and from what Heat fans have seen from him so far in preseason action he has improved his post offense and has quit hunting blocked shots so often, instead choosing to alter shots or force contested layups.

6. Detroit Pistons

Like Hassan Whiteside, Andre Drummond got his big contract this past offseason, and the Detroit Pistons along with their infusion of young talent have the potential to do some damage during the regular season and playoffs. The Pistons will have Tobias Harris who has always been a strong scorer at the small forward spot. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is expected to take another step forward in his progression as a 3-D wing. Stanley Johnson will also be expected to take another step and expand his skill set after a good rookie season. The main thing to watch will be how Reggie Jackson performs when he comes back from his knee injury. Last season he found his niche as a pick and roll maestro and picked his spots well as a scorer. At this point we know what we will get out of the face of the franchise in Drummond. Defense, and plenty of buckets out of the pick and roll. This seasons success hangs on how he lives up to his massive contract and if has solved his free throw woes. 

7. Washington Wizards

Last season was filled with mediocrity and frequent for the Wizards. A season filled with hope after coming just a millisecond away from forcing a Game 7 was wasted due to bad luck and even worse coaching. During the offseason, NeNe walked away, but the Wizards added Andrew Nicholson, Ian Mahinmi, Jason Smith, and traded for Trey Burke. They also brought Tomas Satoransky stateside, and someone who jumps out the gym and should be a terror in transition with John Wall. After an offseason where dissent was rumoured between Bradley Beal and John Wall, these backcourt partners must lead this team to the playoffs success in order to alleviate any imagined beef between the two. If the two most important players for this franchise are unable to harmonize the Wizards must consider blowing the team up.

8. Chicago Bulls

 This has got to be the one the oddly put-together teams in the League today. The original plan was to allow the team to rebuild around Jimmy Butler and surround him with the right talent. Instead they signed Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade. The Bulls won’t have to much shooting on the court. Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic are expected to be rotation guys and Mike Dunleavy is no longer around to help spread the court. Taj Gibson may even be on his way out the door. If this team makes the playoffs it will be a miracle with their strange team but anything

Just Missed the Cut

New York Knicks

The Knicks added some pieces in Derrick Rose, Courtney Lee, Joakim Noah, and Brandon Jennings. It’s going to be interesting to see how they mesh with Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis. The big if is the health of Rose and Noah. Last season Rose did play 66 games and (knock on wood) his health seems to be trending in the right direction. On the other spectrum Noah seems like a shell of his fiery self, perhaps a product of the heavy minutes he played under former coach Tom Thibodeau.  Phil Jackson is stuck in his ways with the Triangle offense and it’s unlikely that he won’t butt his head and try to force Jeff Hornacek to run his antique offense. It’s easier to see this team underachieving and just winning 40 games.

Charlotte Hornets  

Kemba Walker had a career year last season. He finally discovered his shooting stroke, and he had a supporting cast that fit his game. Nicolas Batum was the perfect fit next to him as another playmaker and ball handler. Al Jefferson was the big man down low that could take the scoring load is Walker was off. And a collection of wing players like Courtney Lee, Marvin Williams, and PJ Hairston filled in to replace Michael Kidd-Gilchrist after he went down with an injury just 7 games into the season. Jeremy Lin played a great role as 6th man off the bench and did a great job running the offense with the rest of the Hornets bench players. Unfortunately they lost Lee, Lin, and Jefferson and it will be hard to replace their production. The playoffs may be a taller task than they anticipate.

Atlanta Hawks

Dennis Schroder and Dwight Howard will make for one of the most dangerous pick and roll duos in the NBA, but how long will it take till Howard starts demanding for his touches in the post instead of running the play that is guaranteed success when he runs it successfully. This team has enough talent, athleticism, and shooting but the ability of Schroder to scale back turnovers and his erratic shooting and the drama that comes with Dwight Howard playing for you may set this team back an unexpected step.

The Rest

Philadelphia 76ers:

Do you even have to ask?

Milwaukee Bucks:

Plenty of length and defense but what about shooting? What do we expect out of the Giannis Antetokounmpo in his first full season as the starting point guard. Can Jabari Parker live up to his potential as a scorer extraordinaire? Can Khris Middleton come back from his injury and torch the nets as the Bucks sharpshooter? As of right now there’s just too many questions and not enough answers.

Brooklyn Nets:

They shot themselves in the foot trading away all their draft picks in earlier offseason. At least they’ll be watchable. Jeremy Lin and Brook Lopez with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson should make an interesting trio.

Orlando Magic

Should make for a fun team to watch for transition buckets, Aaron Gordon will be lighting up rims with his thunderous dunks and that should be about the only bright spot for this franchise.