May 15, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) and guard Bradley Beal (3) react against the Atlanta Hawks during the second half in game six of the second round of the NBA Playoffs at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
The Washington Wizards enter the 2015 season with a healthy mix of veterans and young players. Three of their starters are 25 years of age or younger and they have had an ample amount of success for such a young group. Pair this with two big men, both over 30, who have been successful for a long period of time, and the Wizards have a chance to compete.
Who are these young stars on the rise? They are no other than John Wall (25) and Bradley Beal (22) . Wall, who is considered by some to be an MVP candidate, has seen an increase in his role as the leader of the Washington Wizards.
Wall’s assists per game ended up at 10. It was an increase from his 8.8 APG from the 13-14 season. This career high in assists propelled Wall to an All-Star season, one in which he started in the All-Star Game for the Eastern Conference.
Beal also started to heat up during the season as well. He averaged 15.3 during the regular season and 23.4 during the postseason.
May 15, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3) dribbles past Atlanta Hawks guard Jeff Teague (0) during the second half in game six of the second round of the NBA Playoffs at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Then there’s Otto Porter (22). He was the 3rd overall pick in the 2013 draft and is a former Georgetown Hoya. He looks to do big things this year after Paul Pierce departed in free agency. Porter has some big shoes to fill, as Pierce came up with huge shots in the playoffs.
Although Pierce was a big game player and regular starter during the playoffs at small forward, Porter averaged a healthy 10 points per game and had a breakout season. When healthy, Porter is a nice addition to the Wizards’ offensive production.
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They also look for Porter to play a stretch four role at times this season. To play this role, Porter has added seven pounds to his frame, going from 198 pounds to 205 pounds. This move looks to be an integral part to the Wizards offense to combat teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers in the East.
The newly acquired Jared Dudley (30) will also look to play the stretch four at times this season. At 6’7 and 225, Dudley will have to shoot and spread out the court when he comes off of the bench. As for right now, he will have his work cut out for him as he looks to return after a back surgery.
Kelly Oubre (19) is a very athletic small forward, who will likely backup Porter. The rookie is set to start his first season on a high note.
Sep 28, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards forward Kelly Oubre Jr. (12) poses for a portrait during Wizards media day at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Nene (33) is the strong presence that gives the Wizards their gritty personality. The bruising Nene is listed at 6’11 and 250 pounds. He constantly gives the Wizards a scoring threat at 11 points per game and a solid rebounding skill. Although he had a disappointing playoff performance, only adding 7.9 points per game, he looks to bounce back this season.
Marcin Gortat (31) is the Wizards center and his physical presence gives the Wizards another post option. He averaged 12.2 points and 8.7 rebounds per game during the 2014-2015 regular season. He matched his success during the regular with 12.4 points and 8.8 rebounds per game during the playoffs.
Veterans Kris Humphries (30) and Drew Gooden (34) will also compete for playing time at the stretch four position. Both players provide differing skills sets. Humphries has also worked on his 3-point shot during the offseason along with his mid-range game.
The Wizards have a shot to build from their postseason performance during the 14-15 season. If their stars (Wall and Beal) can stay healthy, the sky is the limit for this ball club.
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