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Washington Wizards ’09-10 NBA season preview

By 10.23.09
Gilbert Arenas

Gilbert Arenas


Last year we debuted the “Highs and Lows” system — previewing the NBA season by predicting the respective ceiling and basement for each team. Same theme, different season…

Added: Randy Foye, Mike Miller, Fabricio Oberto, Paul Davis

Lost: Darius Songaila, Etan Thomas, Oleksiy Pecherov, Juan Dixon

Ceiling: 4th seed in the East
I’m sure somewhere out there exists a Wizards season preview that doesn’t include the phrase “If they stay healthy.” But this isn’t it. Talent-wise, everyone knows Washington has the goods to be a serious contender in the East — or at least a tough playoff out for the real serious contenders. But that is, of course, If They Stay Healthy. And while Caron Butler did miss the ’07 postseason with a broken thumb, and Antawn Jamison has been nicked up here and there, “they” more specifically means “Gilbert Arenas.” … Sound familiar? That’s because it’s the opening paragraph from LAST YEAR’S Wizards preview. Has anything changed? Except for a new coach and the fact that Arenas will be ready to go from Day One this time, not really … Already one of the most potent offensive teams in the League on paper, Washington acquired two more weapons to help put points on the board in Randy Foye and Mike Miller: Foye will play the scoring sixth man combo guard role, and if Washington is lucky, he’ll be closer to a Manu Ginobili than a Nate Robinson; Miller gives them the pure shooter they haven’t had so far … New coach Flip Saunders is one of the most underrated offensive minds in basketball; he’ll run his buckets-friendly system and take advantage of the scorers at his disposal, but ideally Flip used his time in Detroit to pick up some defensive tactics that will help this notoriously generous group … If at least two of the young projects (JaVale McGee, Nick Young, Andray Blatche, Dominic McGuire) deliver on their potential this season, the Wizards are in good shape to challenge for second place in the Southeast Division, for homecourt in the first round of the playoffs, and for a spot in the conference semis.

Basement: Underachieving, injury-plagued Lottery run
And it’s not just Gilbert. Ever since stepping onto the scene as a budding Eastern Conference contender in ’06, the Wizards haven’t been able to escape the injury bug — whether it was Butler or Jamison missing time, or Brendan Haywood missing pretty much all of last season with a damaged wrist. Now they’ve already seen Jamison hurt his shoulder this preseason, and some of their key guys (e.g. Foye) can’t exactly be called Iron Man … Offense shouldn’t be a problem, especially with Arenas showing a more playmaker-type mindset in his brief cameo last season and during this preseason, but defense is always an issue. Last year the Wizards gave up 103 points per game and were second-to-last in field goal percentage defense (48.2%). Washington was especially bad defending the paint, which falls on Haywood, McGee and Blatche to an extent, but the guards also need to do something to keep their assignment from coasting in for easy shots.

*** *** ***

10/23 — Minnesota Timberwolves
10/22 — Utah Jazz
10/22 — Orlando Magic
10/22 — Phoenix Suns
10/21 — Charlotte Bobcats
10/21 — San Antonio Spurs
10/21 — Miami Heat
10/19 — Oklahoma City Thunder
10/19 — Milwaukee Bucks
10/15 — Portland Trail Blazers
10/14 — Chicago Bulls
10/13 — Golden State Warriors
10/12 — Toronto Raptors
10/9 — Houston Rockets
10/8 — Detroit Pistons
10/7 — Memphis Grizzlies
10/6 — New York Knicks
10/5 — New Orleans Hornets
10/2 — Atlanta Hawks
9/30 — Sacramento Kings
9/29 — New Jersey Nets
9/28 — Denver Nuggets

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TAGSANDRAY BLATCHEANTAWN JAMISONBrendan HaywoodCARON BUTLERDimeMagDominic McGuireFabricio ObertoFlip SaundersGILBERT ARENASJAVALE MCGEEMANU GINOBILIMIKE MILLERNATE ROBINSONNICK YOUNGRANDY FOYE

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