Scouting the Opposition: Washington Wizards

Friday, December 7, 2012
By Micah Hart

For every home game this season, we’ll be gathering some intel on the opposing team from someone who knows them best — a team employee, a rival blogger, beat writer or broadcaster.

For the Hawks’ home game Friday night against the Wizards, we reached out to Thomas Pruitt, who writes about the Wiz for Bullets Forever, for his take on their team.

His answers are below: John Wall is arguably the team’s best player, but is currently on the shelf with a knee injury. How soon do you expect the Wizards’ lead guard back on the floor?

Thomas Pruitt: He’s still listed as out indefinitely, and his recovery from his knee problems has taken longer than expected. That said, I have a hunch he’ll be back at some point in early January or late December, if only because that would mean he’d had a solid three months of recovery time, then a week or two to practice and get back into game shape. Bradley Beal has drawn rave reviews for his potential as the Wizards’ top rookie this season, and has been one of the team’s leading scorers so far. Did the Wizards expect him to be this kind of contributor in his first year with the team?

TP: Oddly enough, fans seem a little disappointed with him, even though they probably shouldn’t be. His shots aren’t falling from outside right now, but he’s been very solid in almost every other way and Wall’s return should help him immensely. It’s been a rough start to the season for the Wizards, but the team pulled off a huge victory over the Heat earlier this week. Has the team started to turn a corner?

TP: Unfortunately, probably not. While the Wizards executed on offense as well as they have at any point this season, the victory was largely a result of luck – Washington’s low percentage shooters got hot, while Miami’s shooters missed open shots left and right. That said, despite all of the trouble the team has had, the confidence that the W will give them could help a group of players that have struggled to adjust to larger roles in the absence of Wall. The Wizards have a lot of youth, but Nene and Emeka Okafor provide a nice veteran presence in the frontcourt. How much are those two players being leaned upon to provide leadership for the team’s youth movement?

TP: Quite a bit, both on the court and off of it. Kevin Seraphin in particular looks up to Nene a lot and seems to have formed a bond with him, which should really help his development. Okafor is a leader, too, but more in the sense that he sets an example for the youngsters and gives the team’s defense a bit more stability. Obviously the Wizards are still in rebuilding mode. Who on the roster do you see as potential mainstays for the long-term?

TP: Well, assuming his knee problems aren’t any worse than has been let on, Wall is definitely a keeper. Other than him, no one on the roster should be considered untouchable, although Beal and to a lesser extent Seraphin are pretty close at this point. Chris Singleton and a guy Hawks fans are pretty familiar with, Jordan Crawford, have both flashed a bit of potential and could be good bench pieces, although I don’t think anyone would lose sleep if they were eventually dealt. Other than them, the rest of the roster is made up of a bunch of guys who are legitimate NBA players but who aren’t really any better or worse than typical backups.

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