With the NBA regular season tipping off this week, it's prediction time. Some bold, some straight to the point. In case you missed, part one included Bradley Beal's All-Star potential and John Wall topping Chris Paul.
Otto Porter finishes higher than Bradley Beal in Most Improved Player award voting
Porter won't catch Beal's talent level this season, but the former Georgetown star has more room to grow. That's both on the court and in the minds of those who deemed him a bust or a Shaqtin-a-Fool All-Star. Porter flashed his 3-and-D potential during the postseason -- and now his corner deep ball is much improved. Add in steady minutes with the starters and Porter's game jumps in Washington's small ball scenario. How much of a jump? Yep, he's winning the MIP award this season.
Most points against the Wizards
1. Carmelo Anthony - 36 (at New York, Feb. 9)
2. Khris Middleton - 34 (Verizon Center, Jan. 13)
3. Kyle Lowry - 32 (at Toronto, Nov. 28)
Gary Neal ends up becoming the most underrated move of the offseason
Yes, Jared Dudley's stretch-4 game is the key to unlocking the full potential of small ball, but we've analyzed this angle plenty. As for Neal -- a.k.a. Bradley Beal injury insurance -- think Rasual Butler's shooting last year but for more than two months.
Nene will miss 20 games
He actually played in 67 of 82 games last year -- and then his offensive numbers plummeted in the playoffs. The big Brazilian, one of many potential free agents on the roster, won't make that mistake again. By the way, if Nene does miss that many games, the decision to go with one less interior option this season becomes this year's main beef for #WizardsTwitter this season, replacing those long two's. Oh, about the social media folks...
#WizardsTwitter will talk lots about rookies Bobby Portis, R.J. Hunter and Jerian Grant this season
This likely happens whether fellow rookie Kelly Oubre Jr. plays a significant role this season or not. Seeing as I'm not imagining steady minutes for the gifted, but raw forward under coach Randy Wittman, I suspect many of those other rookie comments will be of the "What if" variety.
The Oubre pick was certainly more about the long haul than the 2015-16 season anyway. Those other three project as more immediate help. Portis would have given Washington a tall big man with a perimeter shot under the age of 30. Grant, an All-American point guard with local ties who maxed out his college eligibility, was directly traded for Oubre. As for Hunter, the sweet-shooting guard with a high hoops IQ is a personal favorite. Maybe only I'll tweet about his progress under Celtics coach Brad Stevens -- and I will.
Oubre looks the part athletically. His 3-and-D potential is clear. During the preseason, the game was moving a bit too fast for the 19-year-old with only one year of college basketball under his belt. Washington exhibited strong ball movement during the preseason, but the ball often stuck when reaching the new kid. You know what, that's OK. He's a rookie. That's the deal. My guess is Washington uses more three-guard lineups with Garrett Temple and Gary Neal until Alan Anderson returns or Jared Dudley (back surgery) can handle heavy minutes. As long as Oubre continues learning from the coaches, takes notice of how vets approach their craft, doesn't fret about inconsistent minutes or on-court struggles, all good. Remember where Porter was in year one.
Kevin Durant wins the Most Valuable Player award
Oh, wait, he's not actually on the Wizards. Kind of forget that sometimes because of how often we talk about the D.C. area hero in these parts. By the way, John Wall finishes top 10 in MVP voting for the first time in his career. Anyway, where were we?
Kevin Durant signs with the Wizards next summer
Consider this one simply a true bold prediction/guess rather than a sourced declaration. Look, the Thunder are the clear favorite to retain Durant and that's even before Billy Donovan's coaching shows what OKC lacked strategically in recent years. That's because in part the Thunder are a true favorite in the Western Conference this year and any year with Durant and Russell Westbrook leading the way. Oh, he can also receive the most money staying put.
The thing is, Oklahoma City is many things, but it's not home, at least not his original home. Durant noticed the excitement in Cleveland when native son LeBron James returned to Ohio. The thing is, James didn't just return for kindness. He also saw he could win with the assets available. Assuming John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter continue developing, the Wizards have winning assets. Durant could put them over the top.
After watching James' hero return, something tells me Durant wants some of that even if it means having to pony up for family and friends tickets each game. That cost might be worth the price if he's the one bringing D.C. its first full-blown tickertape parade since before Beal was born. Therefore, if not the Wizards in 2016, it might be worth rooting for LeBron James and the Cavaliers to win the title just to drive the KD2DC point home.
MORE WIZARDS: Wizards predictions: Bradley Beal's bust out season?