Wizards Training Camp FAQ: Who is primed to surprise?
[Washington Wizards 2013-14 training camp is upon us. I bet you have some questions. Well, the TAI crew has answers. Five of us will cover five different frequently asked questions in a five-part series as the Wizards get ready to host Media Day on Friday, and then get to training camp work on the campus on George Mason on Saturday.]
Who is primed to surprise, and where do the Wizards need the most help off the bench?
—by Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20)
The two best players on the Wizards roster going into the 2013-14 are John Wall and Bradley Beal, and the player who can help them both also happens to the player most primed to surprise, and that is Eric Maynor. Adrian Peterson notwithstanding,
a full ACL recovery period is typically two years, which means Maynor has a chance to duplicate his numbers from his last full season with the Oklahoma City Thunder when he played 82 games and averaged 4.2 points, 2.4 assists and shot 38 percent from the 3-point line in 14 minutes per game.
More importantly, as Kyle Weidie noted in this article, Maynor’s two strengths are scoring close to the rim and creating shots for others. This season, it won’t be at all surprising to see Wall playing off the ball, and Maynor setting him up for easy baskets (a la Eric Snow and Allen Iverson). And when Wall needs a breather and Bradley Beal is the shooting guard, Maynor can either create an easy shot for himself, or find Beal open for easy shots. As talented as Beal and Wall are, they are still learning how to play, and Maynor’s presence hopes to make both of their jobs easier.
Where the Wizards need bench help is the same place they need assistance in the starting lineup, and that is in the frontcourt. Al Harrington may single-handedly win 5-to-10 games for the Wizards off the bench, Seraphin is an intermittent threat to get hot with his jump shot, and Trevor Booker is good for a game of physical inside play, which is followed by more extended stretches of disappearance due to injury. I suppose I should mention the possibility of Jan Vesely magically morphing into a post contributor—especially after his inspired EuroBasket performance—but I’d rather keep expectations as low his free-throw percentage until he forces me to do otherwise. As for “NBA-ready,” No. 3 draft pick Otto Porter, he has the skills to play the 4 in a small ball situation, but his slight frame and timid Summer League performance didn’t exactly inspire much confidence.
The Wizards still lack a consistent post player off the bench who can catch the ball in the paint, make a decisive move, and create an easy shot. Ernie Grunfeld has mentioned that the Wizards are considering additional personnel moves, but nothing has been done to replace the injured Emeka Okafor, let alone shore up a bench badly in need of reliable big man support. If Porter plays above expectations and Booker continues to struggle, perhaps the Wizards could make a trade or free up enough cap space to clear the return of Drew Gooden (who was with the Wizards, briefly, in 2010). That lacks the gravitas of the Houston Rockets’ signing of Dwight Howard, but would still be a step in the right direction.
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