2012-2013 NBA Preview: Detroit Pistons and Washington Wizards

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This breakdown comes from OpposingViews.com. The comments come from me.

First, Brandon Knights’ team

The Hope: Greg Monroe has very quickly transformed himself into one of the most legit and durable centers in the center-deficient NBA. Amnesty-ing Ben Gordon or Charlie Villanueva should free up a few bucks to play with in free agency. Jonas Jerebko still has promise due to well-rounded skills and feistiness, Rodney Stuckey is sort of a Tyreke Evans-lite, Gordon is still a decent gunner (if he’s not amnestied), and Brandon Knight is a young rookie the fans still believe in. Obviously they’ll have a decent first round pick (around #9) and what could be a good value pick near the top of the second round (#39 overall).

But Don’t Forget: Other than Monroe, most of the talent worth mentioning (which isn’t much) on Detroit is really just C/C+ players occasionally masquerading as something more; you can’t build a winner around that “core.” Speaking of which, the Pistons haven’t done much of any constructive franchise building for years, so there’s not a lot of reason to think it will start happening now. If they whiff with their first round pick and poorly spend what little free agent money they have (both fall between ‘quite possible’ and ‘very probable’ on the likelihood spectrum), expect another season of 25-30 win basketball.

I don’t understand how someone can look at the Pistons roster and see a team that won’t be getting better next year. Brandon Knight is going to be a great player for the Pistons going forward and is someone who could just as easily become a star player. Knight was one of the best rookies to play in Detroit since Grant Hill in the early 90’s, setting numerous Pistons franchise records including most three-pointers made in a season by a rookie. Greg Monroe, who was 9th in the NBA in double-doubles last season and just barely missed averaging a double-double on the season (15.7ppg, 9.7rpg), is equally as good Knight. Some might even argue that he’s better. What NBA team wouldn’t want those two players to build around?

Throw in a Rodney Stuckey who can light up the score board, Ben Gordon who dropped 40 points in a game last year and Tayshaun Prince, a veteran defensive specialist with a championship pedigree and I see a nucleus that, if surrounded by better players, could easily be a team that makes the playoffs next season. I expect to see the Pistons improve significantly in the off-season, especially if they move up in the lottery and are able to snag Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. But even if that doesn’t happen, they could still take Terrence Jones with their pick, and add a player to their roster that could make an immediate impact for them on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. The Pistons will be better next year. My prediction is that we’ll be watching Knight in the playoffs next season.

They also talked about the outlook for John Wall’s team.

The Hope: Nene brought a steadying influence to the frontcourt when he showed up in March. The Wizards finished on a 6-game win streak (including twice over Miami), so the fan base has some optimism going into the summer. John Wall has the athleticism to someday improve his game to the level a #1 pick should be at, and young big men Trevor Booker, Jan Vesely, Kevin Seraphin, and Chris Singleton all displayed enough flashes this year to make you think something good could happen there. A top draft pick (likely #2) and top second-round pick (#32 overall) could both yield potential building blocks. Assuming Rashard Lewis’ $24 million 2012-13 salary is bought out, they’ll have some cap space to pursue free agents.

But Don’t Forget: Wall displayed no improvement from his rookie season at all, which is particularly troubling when one considers how inefficient and unpolished his game is and the extreme lack of team success he’s ever been part of (high school, college, pro, Team USA). There are plenty of ways for the Wizards to go wrong with their top pick (if it’s not #1 overall) and their cap space, always a possibility considering their recent track record. Andray Blatche is not a building block by any stretch of the imagination, and the fact the front office isn’t aware of this tells you Washington could have problems assembling a winning squad.

Lack of team success? Are you out of your freaking mind? John Wall led Kentucky to a 35-3 record, won the SEC regular season and tournament championships, and helped the team earn the #1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament before eventually losing to West Virginia in the Elite Eight. That is a pretty successful season. As a fifth-year senior at Word of God, John led his high school team to the North Carolina class 1A state championship. That sounds pretty successful. How anyone can look at John Wall’s basketball career prior to the NBA as lacking team success is beyond me. #1 overall seeds and championships are essentially the definition of team success.

And to say that John Wall made no improvements is just simply not true. During his rookie year Wall averaged 0.5 blocks. In his second year he averaged 0.9 blocks. That’s improvement.

The Wizards are about to get a lot better. More than likely they’ll end up with either Anthony Davis or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, both of whom have the potential to completely change the Wizards fortunes. Hall of fame coach Larry Brown said the team that drafts Anthony Davis will win 50 games next year.

The Wizards went 9-5 in games that Nene played, so there are reason to be optimistic about next season. If I was a betting men, I’d say the Wizards will be in the playoffs next year.

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