The Wizards' Five Year Forecast

We spend a lot of our time thinking about the present when it comes to the Wizards. Consensus seems to be split on the site between whether the team will spend another year as a bottom-feeder team or whether the addition of John Wall will be enough to sneak the team into the eighth seed in the playoffs. My personal belief is that the team falls into the former camp, as it will be hard for John Wall to take a team that lost 16 straight games and immediately transform them into a lower-echelon contender.

But that’s this year. I’m more interested in predicting the future, and what the next five years hold for the organization. The Wizards are in a unique situation in that the other four teams within the Southeast division are all 2010 playoff teams. Obviously, for the Wizards to move up and reach the playoffs, one or two of these teams will have to decline.  So I've decided to have take a look at the lay of the land in the Southeastern Division and boldly predict what the future may hold for each team.

(Note that the "best case," and "worst case" scenarios are from the prospective of a Wizards fan, and should be taken with a grain of salt).

Atlanta Hawks

Overall Trend: Decline

Major Players: Joe Johnson, Josh Smith,  Marvin Williams

Worst Case Scenario: Johnson proves to be worth every penny over the next six years, Smith gets substantially less crazy and the ownership/fanbase situation stabilizes to the point where the Hawks resemble a competent franchise. The Hawks continue their recent run of success in the regular season against the Wizards and lock down third place in the Southeast for the next five years.

Best Case Scenario: The Hawks return to the playoffs this year, only to bow out after another supreme choke job by Johnson and company. The Hawks continue to draft erratically and lose Al Horford via free agency.

Fearless Five Year Forecast: Atlanta is a trendy pick for regression by most NBA pundits, and I am inclined to agree. They’ve hitched their star to Joe Johnson, a dubious move at best, and the front office doesn’t seem to have a convincing plan on how to move forward other than to maintain the status quo. I predict two more years of drubbings  at the hands of the Hawks, with the Wizards overtaking them in year three of the John Wall era.

Charlotte Bobcats

Overall Trend: Decline

Major Players: Gerald Wallace, Stephen Jackson

Worst Case Scenario: The Bobcats acquire a primary scorer to take the load off Wallace and Jackson. Larry Brown stops teasing the franchise and commits to the team for the next several years. Michael Jordan removes himself entirely from all day to day operations.

Best Case Scenario: D.J. Augustin and Shaun Livingston both prove to be career backup point guards. Jackson ages overnight. The Bobcats decided to re-up Erick Dampier for silly money.

Fearless Five Year Forecast: Of all the teams in the Southeast, the Bobcats are the most likely candidate to be overtaken in year one. However, if Larry Brown doesn’t fly the coop, I can see Charlotte sneaking back into the playoffs based on the quality of their defense.  Nevertheless, I predict major decline for Charlotte in the next few years, and a return to their cellar dwelling status in year two of the John Wall Era.

Orlando Magic

Overall Trend: Stagnation

Major Players: Dwight Howard, Vince Carter, Rashard Lewis, Jameer Nelson

Worst Case Scenario: The Magic trade VC for Chris Paul to kick off a five year run of domination, with their only challengers being the Miami Heat. Howard learns to shoot FTs and becomes the most dominant big man since Bill Russell.

Best Case Scenario: Chris Duhon takes the reigns as starting point guard after Nelson tweaks himself yet again. Rashard Lewis continues to disappear for months at a time. Vince Carter remains Vince Carter.

Fearless Five Year Forecast : Of all the teams in the Southeast, the Magic are the hardest to predict. At first glance, they appear to be screwed in that they have locked themselves into long term contracts with Duhon, Gortat and Lewis (among others) without an exit strategy. The opportunity to hit a home run is still there for the franchise, and if they miss out on the possible Chris Paul sweepstakes, they could be players for Gilbert Arenas. However, my belief is that the Magic really consider themselves to be a strong enough team to make a run each year. This may be delusional on their part, but so was signing Rashard Lewis for a billion dollars. The Magic will continue to kick sand in the Wizards faces for the next several years, but salary cap flexibility could spell disaster sooner rather than later. Thus I predict the Wizards will overtake the Magic in year four of the John Wall era.

Miami Heat

Overall Trend: Improvement

Major Players: Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade, Mike Miller and some other dude that cannot be uttered.

Worst Case Scenario: Complete and utter domination.

Best Case Scenario: Really, it all hinges on everyone staying healthy. You never wish for a player to get injured, so I don’t want to say that the best thing that could happen is that Dwayne Wade’s knee falls off ... but honestly, it would be.

Fearless Five Year Forecast : Ugh. Well, I don’t think they win it all this year, but we could be talking about a four-peat following the initial year of ironing out the kinks. I can’t see the Wizards surpassing the Heat in the John Wall era, but hey, stranger things have happened.

Washington Wizards

Overall Trend: Improvement

Major Players: John Wall, Gilbert Arenas, Andray Blatche

Worst Case Scenario: Last year all over again.

Best Case Scenario: John Wall becomes Deron Williams immediately, Blatche screws his head on right and JaVale McGee learns how to properly execute a pick and roll.

Fearless Five Year Forecast : It all depends on Gilbert Arenas.  Honestly, this conclusion shocked me. But if you take away Arenas, the Wizards are John Wall and a bunch of guys with varying degrees of potential. And yes, I know, Andray Blatche, to which I refute that someone had to score the ball. If Arenas is even 85% of his former self, than the Wizards will see a major improvement in year one. If Arenas returns at full throttle and the Wizards draft well, then we could see a return to relevance by year two of the John Wall era.

At the end of the day, the situation looks much brighter for the Wizards than I originally anticipated. Obviously, Miami is a problem, and will continue to be a problem for the foreseeable future. However, the other three teams in the Southeast all have very noticeable flaws that could emerge over the course of the next few years. That said, here are my predictions for the Southeast shakes out over the next few years.

2011

 

  1. Orlando
  2. Atlanta
  3. Charlotte
  4. Washington

 

2012

 

  1. Miami
  2. Orlando
  3. Atlanta
  4. Washington
  5. Charlotte

 

2013

 

  1. Miami
  2. Orlando
  3. Washington
  4. Atlanta
  5. Charlotte

 

2014

 

  1. Miami
  2. Washington
  3. Orlando
  4. Atlanta
  5. Charlotte

 

2015

 

  1. Miami
  2. Washington
  3. Orlando
  4. Charlotte
  5. Atlanta

 

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