We've talked about all the various changes made by the Wizards this offseason - or really since they made the move for Nene last season. Now we look at how the local NBA team stacks up with its Southeast Division rivals, position by position. We started with the floor generals, shooting guardsand centers. Now, the small forwards. The Wizards had the top option in two of those previous three positions. We can end the suspense, they won't here, not with some talented guy in South Beach reigning supreme (2011-12 stats listed)...
Atlanta Josh Smith...18.8 points,9.6 rebounds, 1.7blocks...One of the true stat-stuffers in the league, Smith has the opportunity to put up more points now that Joe Johnson has moved on. It also means the career 25.7 3-point shooter can hoist from distance more freely. For the Hawks to maintain their status as a perennial top-four seed in the East, they need the all-court Smith, not the deep chucker version.
Charlotte Michael Kidd-Gilchrist...11.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.0 steals at Kentucky...The Bobcats added a trio of veterans this offseason, but none of them block the starting lineup path of this high-energy wing. The bulk of Kidd-Gilchrist's rookie year potential stems from his intangibles-heavy game and not from his work-in-progress of a perimeter shot. Defensively and in the open court he should make an impact. Whether the Bobcats utter woefulness will allow said impact to shine through this season is the question.
Miami LeBron James...27.1 points, 7.9 rebounds,6.2 assists...This just in: LeBron has skills. Scariest part of the upcoming NBA season is seeing what this physical freak of nature can do now that the weight of world is off his massive shoulders following the Heat's championship.
Orlando Hedo Turkoglu...10.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.4 assistsThe one salary the Magic wanted to dump remains in Orlando. At least the 33-year-old's point-forward skill set should help the patchwork roster find its way. Of course, the way is likely out of the playoffs for the first time in a while. The Magic can also turn to the slashing Quentin Richardson and the intriguing rookie out of St. John's, Moe Harkless.
Washington Trevor Ariza...10.8 points,5.2 rebounds, 1.7 steals...We all know why the Wizards made the move for Ariza and Emeka Okafor: Defense and veteran presence. The 27-year-old will also serve as an ideal fast-breaking wingman to John Wall and his position flexibility means Randy Wittman can turn the lengthy forward into a defensive guard should the likesof Dwyane Wade and Aaron Afflalo overpower the Wizards backcourt. Like Josh Smith, Ariza must avoid falling in love with the 3-point shot. Outside of his championship run with the Lakers, the career 31.7 percent shooter from beyond the arc has never mastered that distance yet enjoys trying. Still not sure how the minutes work behind Ariza with Chris Singleton, Cartier Martin, Trevor Booker, Jan Vesely and the reportedly signed Martell Webster all in the mix for backup minutes.
And the winner is...Come on; do I need to say it? Beyond James, Smith is the only other All-Star in the bunch, but it will be interesting to see how the at times frustrating forward handles more responsibility. Assuming Ariza settles into a complimentary offensive roll behind Wall, Nene and the Jordan CrawfordBradley Beal off-guard slot, he's got third over the likeable rookie.
Rank: 1)James 2)Smith 3)Ariza 4)Kidd-Gilchrist 5) Turkoglu