The Washington Wizards have their work cut out for them this year.
The Wizards, who began the 2012-13 National Basketball Association (NBA) season by losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers, 94-84, Tuesday night, are not as talented as most NBA teams.
Only two Wizards players — guard John Wall and forward Nene — could be starters for a playoff team. And they are both hurt.
Wall will be out for at least the first month of the season with a knee injury. Nene — who uses only one name — has a sore foot. That’s a big problem because feet are important in basketball.
Two of the team’s new starters — forward Trevor Ariza and center Emeka Okafor — are solid veterans. But they would only be backups on a good team.
The rest of the roster is filled with young players who have not shown they are consistent professional players. The Wizards would love to see Bradley Beal, their 19-year-old rookie shooting guard, be as good as Washington’s other teenage sports sensation, Bryce Harper. But chances are good that Beal will struggle, as most NBA rookies do.
The Wizards are hoping for big improvements from some of their other young players, such as center Kevin Seraphin, age 22, forward Jan Vesely, also 22, and shooting guard Jordan Crawford, 24.
So the Wizards will play lots of games against teams that are better and more talented than they are. Maybe you have played on teams like that. It can be discouraging.
Still, that doesn’t mean the Wizards can’t have a good season. For that to happen, they will have to do several things.
First, they have to get healthy. The Wizards need Wall and Nene back on the court as soon as possible. They can’t afford to have their best players on the sidelines for too long.
Second, they have to really hustle. Sometimes a less-talented team can beat a more-talented team just by working harder. There’s an old saying in sports: Hard work beats talent when talent isn’t working hard.
To be successful, the Wizards will have to get more loose balls and rebounds than the other team. They will also have to work hard on defense.
The team looked better and played more like a team during the preseason. That’s probably because the team got rid of selfish, me-first players such as Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee and Nick Young.
I think the Wizards will have a better record than last season’s 20 wins and 46 losses. But they will have to work for it.
Fred Bowen writes the sports opinion column for KidsPost. He is the author 18 sports books for kids that combine sports fiction and sports history. His latest basketball book is “Real Hoops.”