The Washington Wizards will need a little magic this season

(Tony Dejak/associated Press)
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By Fred Bowen
Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Washington Wizards, who open their season tonight against the Orlando Magic, probably are in for another losing record. How can I be so sure?

They had one of the worst records in the National Basketball Association (NBA) last season, winning just 26 games and losing 56. So the Wizards have a long way to go to be a winner.

Three of the Wizards' best players -- forwards Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler and center Brendan Haywood -- were traded last season and are playing for other teams.

The Wizards are a young team. Several of their key players -- rookie John Wall, age 20, and big men Andray Blatche, 24, and JaVale McGee, 22, do not have much pro experience.

Of course, one of the Wizards' most experienced players is Gilbert Arenas. The all-star guard certainly has not acted like a grown-up team leader: He took guns into Verizon Center last season faked an injury during the preseason and will miss the first two games of the regular season with a real injury.

But all that doesn't mean the Wizards will not be a fun bunch to watch this season. Here are some reasons to keep an eye on the hometown team.

John Wall: The first player picked in the 2010 NBA draft looks like the real deal. Wall is a super-fast playmaking guard who led the Wizards in minutes played, points and assists during the preseason. Wall is not a little guy. He is listed at 6 feet 4 inches tall. That's big for a point guard. It will be fun to see whether he develops into one of the NBA's best.

Andray Blatche: Blatche scored more than 22 points a game when he broke into the starting lineup after Jamison, Butler and Haywood were traded. Still, he has yet to show he can be a consistent NBA performer.

JaVale McGee: McGee played so well over the summer that he was almost selected for the United States team that won the world championship in Turkey. McGee is 7 feet tall, with long arms for blocking shots and grabbing rebounds. If he keeps improving, he might fill a hole in the Wizards' lineup at the important center position.

New attitude: In addition to the new players, the Wizards have a new owner. Ted Leonsis, who also owns the Washington Capitals, is now the big boss of the Wizards. Hopefully, this will mean a new -- winning -- attitude for the team.

The Wizards' biggest problem for the past few seasons has been that their so-called stars did not play tough, hard-nosed defense. In basketball, each player has to hustle on both ends of the court.

If the Wizards show a new attitude on defense this season, they will get better. Even if they are losing.

Fred Bowen writes KidsPost's sports opinion column and is the author of 15 sports books for kids.

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