The Washington Wizards were among the big spenders this offseason, choosing to reward its own rather than try and lure high-level talent from other franchises.
That’s why despite having a team that on paper should be among the best in the East this season, you hear little about the Wizards being among the best in the Eastern Conference with most of the talk centering around Cleveland and Boston.
Now that’s understandable considering they were the last two teams standing last season in the East, and the two were involved in arguably the biggest offseason trade having just completed a four-player swap centered around Kyrie Irving coming to Boston while Isaiah Thomas was headed to Cleveland.
While both Cleveland and Boston have tremendous talent, the one concern for both is chemistry – something the Wizards have down to a science now.
By matching the four-year, $106 million offer sheet Brooklyn presented to Otto Porter Jr., Washington returns its starting five from a year ago as well as eight of its top nine players.
And remember, they finished the second half of the season with a 27-14 record which ranked among the best records in the NBA over the final 41 games of the season.
That kind of success plus a strong showing in the playoffs, is reason enough for the Wizards to believe that they can pick up where they left off last season and be one of the top teams in the East.
Leading that charge will be Wall, who seems to be overlooked at times when talking about the best point guards in the NBA despite being a four-time all-star.
The Wizards certainly showed him lots of love with a four-year, $170 million extension that will take effect beginning in 2019.
Wall, who averaged a double-double of 23.1 points and 10.7 assists per game last season, believes he’s more than just one of the better playmakers in the NBA.
“I’m the best two-way point guard in the league,” he told Ballislife.com following a workout at the University of Miami this summer that included teammate Kelly Oubre Jr. as well as Cleveland’s LeBron James.
And while James and the Cavs are the standard all teams in the East are measured against, Wall is confident in himself as well as his teammates that their time to be among the elite teams in the East, is now.
“He’s LeBron James; that’s big brother to me,” Wall said. “But I’m working out with anybody like that, him, Kevin Durant or whoever I’m with, I want to be better than them because whenever I step on the court I feel I’m the best player, no matter who you are. That’s just my mindset.”
Key free agent/draft/trade additions: Tim Frazier (New Orleans); Jodie Meeks (Orlando); Mike Scott (Atlanta).
Key losses: Bojan Bogdanovic (Indiana).
Rookies of note: None.
Expectations: 51-31 (First in the Central Division, 3rd in the East)