Now that the preseason is over, and the Wizards can focus on the Orlando Magic for Wednesday's regular-season opener, what can be expected in the early going? Based on their seven exhibition games in which they won four, here are my best guesses:
- Kris Humphries, who started each game as the "stretch" power forward over Nene, will keep that role. He shot 10 of 28 from three-point range (35.7%), which is a huge improvement over his career average from long range when the games count 2 of 26 (less than 1%). Although Drew Gooden would seem to be a better fit style-wise with the first group, the hope is that he's a better fit with the second group joining Nene.
- John Wall had 22 turnovers in six preseason games, which is far too many but will be better. He clearly was taking risks, and even showboating at times, in ways that he wouldn't when the games count. Whether he'll be able to keep his turnovers to less than 3.0 per game is another matter. The Wizards play a fast pace and will have more possessions. But Wall won't be solely responsible for starting plays anymore. It's a reachable goal though most will bet against him being able to do it.
- With Jared Dudley still not in form after returning from back surgery, Kelly Oubre will have to play a bigger role. "Bigger" here is a relative term. That doesn't mean he'll be averaging 20 minutes a game but that he'll get spot minutes behind Otto Porter. If he's able to hold is own, that's all that will be asked. Oubre can't focus on scoring or trying to do too much too early because coach Randy Wittman will have him on a short leash. It'll be defense and getting most of his buckets off hustle plays that keeps him on the floor. If he doesn't follow that script, he'll be parked on the bench and there could be more three-guard lineups to compensate.
- Nene has a sore right calf, but him missing the last four games of the preseason is probably more of a precautionary move to make sure he's healthy. The 7-footer played in 67 games last season, his most since 2010-11. Martell Webster's right hip injury seems more serious, an arthritic condition that results in constant pain. It'll be up to him whether or not he can play through it. Based on the tone of what I've been told about Webster by multiple people, I'm not optimistic about his ability to contribute.
- Marcin Gortat will have his best season, his third, with Washington. The additional open space on the floor requires him to run the floor and move without the ball, which is the strength of his game. This will produce more easy finishes and with Gortat likely exceeding his field-goal accuracy of a year ago (56.6%), which is his highest as a starter in the NBA.