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Saturday, 14 October 2017 11:46

Washington Wizards vs. Boston Celtics: 2017-18 NBA Season Preview

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Washington Wizards vs. Boston Celtics: 2017-18 NBA Season Preview | Powered by CLNS Media

 

2016-17 Round-up: The Washington Wizards finished last season with a record of 49-33, putting them at 4th the Eastern Conference. Once in the playoffs, they managed to get past the Hawks in a first-round series that went six games. They then ultimately fell just a game short of reaching the Eastern Conference Finals to the Celtics in the following round.

John Wall and Bradley Beal both had exceptional seasons, averaging 20+ PPG each for the first time in their careers. Otto Porter Jr. also emerged for this team, shooting a career high 43.4% from three.

The Wizards were among the top-five teams in the league in PPG last season at 109.2 and the top-ten at three-point shooting at 37.2%.

Offseason Grades: B

While they didn’t capitalize that well on the deep free agent class this summer had to offer, they still managed to add some good depth pieces while also taking care of their own guys.

They made a trade with the Pelicans for point guard Tim Frazier and signed Jodie Meeks at 2 years $6.7M, Mike Scott at 1 year $1.7M, and Donald Sloan at 1 year $1.7M. Otto Porter Jr., who originally signed an offer sheet with the Brooklyn Nets this offseason, ended up getting his deal matched by the Wizards for 4 years, $106.5M. John Wall also received his long-awaited extension of 4 years, $170M that will start in 2019-20.

Because of a trade for Bojan Bogdonavic during the regular season, the Wizards did not own a selection in the first round of the draft. They also traded their second-round selection to New Orleans for point guard Tim Frazier, who will play the back-up role to John Wall.

The Wizards took a safe approach to this offseason and can’t really be knocked for it. Locking up Wall was huge, and while they might’ve overpaid for Porter Jr., having him back will help this team continue to build on their success from last season. Other than Bogdonovic signing in Indiana, they didn’t lose any key contributors off the bench in free agency. This was a solid offseason for a team who has something to prove heading into 2017.

Training Camp Questions: With Markieff Morris out for the first couple weeks of the season, who will fill the void? His 14 PPG from last season will have to be replaced by someone if this team wants to get out to another good start. Will Otto Porter play up to his contract? Sometimes we see players regress a bit after earning themselves a big pay day in a contract year. Will Porter do the same, or will he live up to his new deal?

Next Move They Make: If the Pelicans get off to a slow start this season they could look to move big man Demarcus Cousins, who is heading into a contract year with no guarantee of an extension in sight. The Wizards could send New Orleans both Marcin Gortat and Jason Smith’s contracts to match the money up, while also including a younger piece like Kelly Oubre and draft pick compensation in exchange for Cousins. This would not only give Washington another big three in a weak Eastern Conference, but also re-unite former college teammates in Cousins and John Wall.

How They Beat the Celtics: Last year in both the regular season and the postseason, these teams played each other a combined 11 times with a 6-5 advantage in Boston’s favor. However, the Celtics have a completely different team heading into this season. They seem to be able to move the ball up and down the court at will during the preseason, a style very similar to how the Wizards play. If Washington is going to win any games against the Celtics this year, it will come down to three-point shooting. If Otto Porter and Bradley Beal can test the Celtics perimeter defense early in games, it will make for some very long nights for those defenders. The loss of Avery Bradley will really sting in matchups with the Wizards.

Trending: Washington has been trending upwards for the better part of the last four to five seasons now. John Wall and Bradley Beal continue to grow together, making for one of the best back court pairings in the NBA. If Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre can continue to emerge as key contributors for this team, the sky is the limit in the Eastern Conference.

Final Record/Standings Prediction: 50-32, 3rd in the Eastern Conference

The Wizards finished 4th in the East last year, but I expect them to take big time advantage of the decrease of talent in the Eastern Conference and become a 50-win team. They come into this year hoping to build on what was a disappointing end to last season.