Four questions for the Wizards’ season

October 29, 2013

In his career, Jan Vesely has 89 more fouls than field goals made. (Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)

1. Will Wall take the next step?

The former No. 1 pick has dealt with injuries and hasn’t exactly been surrounded by studs in his first three years, but there’s no more excuses (especially after he signed a five-year, $80 million extension in the offseason). This is his team, and it’s a team that hasn’t won 30 games in any season he’s been here.

2. Who is the Wizards’ rival?

There once was a time when Verizon Center was packed with crazed LeBron James haters. Even Jay Z and Soulja Boy got involved in the Wizards’ rivalry with James’ former team, the Cavaliers. But when you’re a team that hasn’t made the playoffs the past five years, it’s hard to build a rivalry with anyone.

3. Can Vesely contribute?

After spending most of his first two seasons as a punch line, can Jan Vesely (the sixth pick in 2011) actually be a serviceable player? The Wizards have expressed that the forward is showing more confidence. But in his career, Vesely has 89 more fouls than field goals made and is a 44.6 percent free-throw shooter.

4. Does preseason matter?

The Pelicans (yes, that’s a real NBA team) were 7-1, so don’t put too much stock in the Wizards’ 2-5 record. But what you can take away is that Bradley Beal has looked like a legitimate scorer. For a second-year player, that type of confidence-building preseason could roll over to the regular season.

New Pickups

The Wizards weren’t very busy in the offseason, but they did add three new players through trade or free agency that will play a key role.

Marcin Gortat, Center

How he was acquired: Last week, the Wizards sent injured center Emeka Okafor and a top 12 protected 2014 first-round pick to the Phoenix Suns for the Gortat, Shannon Brown, Malcolm Lee and Kendall Marshall. The Wizards cut the other three players in the deal.

How he will help: Gortat is the perfect center for a drive-and-dish point guard like John Wall and a low-post power forward like Nene. His outside shooting ability will clear the lane, and he will be able to do the dirty work on the boards.

 Al Harrington, Forward

How he was acquired: The veteran signed through free agency after being released by the Magic.

How he will help: Harrington has always been a confident 3-point shooter, but he played only 10 games last year.

Eric Maynor, Point Guard

How he was acquired: The former VCU point guard signed a multiyear deal with the Wizards.

How he will help: Maynor should be a solid complement to John Wall as the Wizards’ backup point guard.

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Elliott Smith | October 29, 2013