The Washington Wizards enter training camp at George Mason University on Tuesday with a roster full of fresh faces, but is an overhauled roster enough to make a significant difference on the court? Here are five things that need to happen:
High picks must play up to draft status
Bradley Beal (the No. 3 pick in the 2012 draft) and/or Jan Vesely (the No. 6 pick in 2011) don’t need to be superstars, but they will need to become dependable options, especially while John Wall recovers from his knee injury.
Nene must play
The Wizards were 7-4 with the Brazilian big man on the floor and 3-8 without him after last season’s midseason trade. So he is a difference-maker. The Wizards plan to be cautious with Nene through training camp and the preseason as he recovers from plantar fasciitis in his left foot.
Coach Randy Wittman has to bring it all together
Wittman now has a chance to continue what he started late last season while attempting to prove that the team’s six-game winning streak to close the season wasn’t a fluke. Now that he has had a full offseason to prepare, the challenge is establishing his own style while incorporating new pieces.
Even before they lost Wall for eight weeks to a left knee injury, the Wizards faced challenges in finding a way to consistently generate offense. The injury is more disconcerting because the team has been built to complement Wall’s skill set. Without a playmaker with Wall’s talents, Wittman will have to be creative and design a scheme reliant on sharing and ball movement.
Wall has to play like a star
Wall worked hard this offseason to take his game to another level, which makes his injury so disheartening. And now he will have to wait to show how much he has learned. Wall is now the longest-tenured player on the roster, and he will be looked upon for more than just numbers. He appears willing to take on responsibility that comes with his status on the team.
— Michael Lee