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Washington Wizards preview (Part 1): Can they follow playoff blueprint with new additions?

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Welcome to Bullets Forever's 2015-16 Wizards season preview. As we count down the days until their home opener on October 28 against the Orlando Magic, we will go over some of the main questions that the Wizards face.

Team Name: Washington Wizards
Last Year's Record: 46-36
Losses: Paul Pierce, Kevin Seraphin, Rasual Butler, Will Bynum
Additions:Jared Dudley, Alan Anderson, Gary Neal, Kelly Oubre

The Washington Wizards head into the 2015-16 season with high expectations after making two consecutive appearances in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

For the most part, the core will stay intact. Part of it is because they have a quality roster.

The rising star backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal are now heading into their primes. Marcin Gortat has remained durable and consistent while manning the starting center position. Otto Porter is coming off a breakthrough performance from the playoffs. Nene continues to be effective. And most of the contributing bench players like Kris Humphries, Ramon Sessions, and Garrett Temple will return.

Part of it is also because of next offseason because of Kevin Durant's anticipated free agency. In fact, some players who hit free agency have probably left because of that.

Anyway, the Wizards -- like any other NBA team -- have made some changes to their roster over the last several months. Let's go through the key acquisitions and losses they had over the past summer.

Who were the Wizards' key acquisitions this offseason?

by Albert Lee

Jared Dudley

The swingman was traded to Washington in exchange for a future second-round draft pick in July. Dudley is best known for his versatility on defense, where he can guard other wings and power forwards.

In addition, he is an above average three-point shooter where he enjoyed his best numbers with the Phoenix Suns when Steve Nash was running the show. In D.C., Wall should make things easier for Dudley in that regard.

Unfortunately, Dudley may not be at 100 percent to start the season because he had back surgery to repair a herniated disc in mid-July. But the silver lining is that with other wing players like Otto Porter are ready to play extended minutes, and his development is more important in my opinion.

Alan Anderson

The 6'6 swingman signed a one-year, $4 million deal back in July after playing two seasons for the Brooklyn Nets. Anderson has averaged career highs in his true shooting percentage (56.3 percent) and has also kept his turnover rate consistently low throughout his last three seasons in the league.

Anderson should be able to thrive more given that the Wizards' offense won't require him to step too far beyond his comfort zone. He made 34.8 percent of his threes last season, so there's a decent chance that his efficiency will increase this season when he's catching passes from Wall.

Who were the Wizards' major losses?

by Albert Lee

Paul Pierce

Re-live Pierce's announcement in 2014

The Truth was clearly the biggest acquisition last year just hours after Trevor Ariza took his talents (back) to the Houston Rockets. I still remember how stoked Mike Prada was the minute we found out too. Just crazy!

But after one year in Washington, Pierce signed a three-year deal with the Los Angeles Clippers in July, which was the catalyst to the aforementioned Dudley and Anderson acquisitions. On top of all that, the Wizards may not have even been his second choice in free agency -- so you can make a case why his departure was considered to be worthy of a gloomy 2015-16, if you're ESPN, that is.

I, however, choose to look at the positive impact he left in the nation's capital.

As a Wizard, he helped lead the locker room and get players like Bradley Beal to trash talk more. Remember his chats with Kyle Lowry in the playoffs?

Pierce did much more than get the Wizards to trash talk more. He showed out in the playoffs -- ESPECIALLY against the Atlanta Hawks.

Even though Pierce was the real deal in the playoffs, he is 37 years old and is only declining at this point in his career. In fact, he averaged career lows in scoring and minutes played during the regular season.

Don't get me wrong. It was great to see him in D.C. for a year and the Wizards are better now because of it. But the younger players -- especially Wall and Beal -- can take what they learned from him and put that to good use for the future.

Kevin Seraphin

After five years in Washington, the French center signed with the New York Knicks on a one-year $2.8 million deal.

I wasn't surprised to see Seraphin leave D.C. to be honest. The writing was one the wall when he signed a $3.8 million qualifying offer last season, combined with the fact that Kris Humphries and DeJuan Blair were acquired that same offseason.

And we didn't even get to Nene and Marcin Gortat yet.

Given that the Wizards' big man rotation is stacked as it is, you can't blame Seraphin for leaving, since he does have potential to be a consistent starting center for an NBA team soon. It just wasn't going to happen here.

Who are the rookies that will or are likely to make the 2015-16 team?

by Albert Lee

The Wizards are now past the era of stockpiling youth for the future. But that doesn't mean that there are opportunities for the kids to make their mark, whether now or in the near future.

Kelly Oubre

The Wizards acquired the former Kansas swingman and 15th pick in the 2015 Draft from the Atlanta Hawks in a three-team deal that involved Jerian Grant, the Wizards' original first-round 2015 draft pick, as well as their 2016 and 2019 second-round draft picks.

Soon after he was drafted, Oubre was described as "basketball illiterate" by an undisclosed NBA GM because he believed that despite his athletic talent, his skills weren't there yet. The jury's out on how well Oubre will do in his prime, but if he does pan out like we hope he will, it will be worth it.

Other significant news that's just like a player acquisition (or loss)

by Albert Lee

These stories don't involve specific players, but I feel that they're just like a player acquisition or loss.

A new practice facility is on the way

It was a long wait, but the Wizards' and Mystics' practice facility will be at the site of the St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Southeast Washington.

With more and more NBA teams building such facilities, it was imperative that the Wizards act quickly to make one of their own. It's definitely a good thing that theirs will come soon since it will be something future free agents and other players will look at when they come to the nation's capital.

The Indiana Pacers buy the Fort Wayne Mad Ants D-League team

With this news, all 11 teams without a one-to-one affiliate -- including the Wizards -- will have to use a flexible assignment system if and when players are assigned to the D-League.

This is not good news for the Wizards of course. But the current roster, minus Oubre possibly -- and that's a stretch too -- isn't going to be assigned to a D-League team for any reason. Therefore, the lack of a D-League affiliate this season isn't the end of the world this season or next. But in a couple years, that situation will surely change.

Fortunately, the Wizards' practice facility will be open in a couple seasons, which also happens to be the time when they are expected to have a D-League affiliate of their own.

What are the team's biggest strengths?

by Jake Whitacre

With the Wizards, it all starts with their backcourt tandem of John Wall and Bradley Beal. Washington's success hinges on the performance of their guards, just like it has the past two seasons as they've developed into a playoff contender. You can argue where exactly House of Guards deserves to land in the rankings of the NBA's best backcourts, but clearly they're near the top.

More on Beal's potential impact for the Wizards

John Wall is coming off the best season of his career, where he earned a starting spot in the All-Star Game and made a strong case for why he's the second-best player in the conference. Bradley Beal is coming off a stellar playoff performance and should only get better as he heads into a contract year.

Additionally, in a summer where several Eastern Conference teams made big changes to keep pace with Cleveland, the Wizards have the advantage of keeping a consistent core from last season, other than losing Paul Pierce.

What are the team's biggest weaknesses?

by Jake Whitacre

When healthy, the Wizards have a fairly well-rounded roster, but it would only take an injury or two in key spots to put the team in a bind. The Wizards chose not to sign a center over the summer to replace Kevin Seraphin. So if Marcin Gortat misses any time this season, the Wizards will have to find a way to make a timeshare at center work between Nene, DeJuan Blair, Kris Humphries and Drew Gooden. And it's not as if the players just listed are known for their durability either.

Likewise, if John Wall or Bradley Beal misses a significant amount of time, the Wizards' offense will take a hit. So much of the roster is designed to complement Wall and Beal by working well off the ball, that it's difficult to identify player who can take on a bigger load of creating the offense if either player gets hurt. If the Wizards need to rely on Ramon Sessions or Gary Neal to become an important part of the offense in the wake of an injury, it's not going to be a great situation for the Wizards.

One non-injury related issue that could potentially be a weakness for the team this season is the number of players who are entering a contract year. 11 of the team's 15 players could be entering free agency this summer and there won't be enough minutes or shots to go around to keep everyone happy. Will the locker room be able to hold it together when the players getting the short end of the stick start grumbling?

What are the goals for this team?

by Jon Munshaw

If you asked any of the players on this team what the goal of the team is, they're inevitably going to say that it's to win an NBA championship. Even the Orlando Magic would tell you that's their goal. It's locker room-speak.

But if we're being honest, this team's real goal should just be to make the Eastern Conference finals. The West is so stacked it's impossible to imagine this team winning a title — especially with this group of players. But it's not unrealistic to see this team making an Eastern Conference finals.

Last year, it's not inconceivable to say that the Wizards could have won their series against the Hawks had John Wall been completely healthy. The goal this year should be to extend Beal, get Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre some experience, find out who is going to be the power forward of the future (sorry, Nene) and make a conference finals.

Will Randy utilize the small-ball, stretch-4 approach early in the season or wait until the playoffs again?

by Jon Munshaw

As soon as the Wiz signed Paul Pierce last offseason, we were just waiting for him to unleash the stretch-4. And waited. And waited. Until he unleashed the fury in the playoffs.

There's no way that schedule changes this season. Jared Dudley (the most likely stretch-4 candidate could miss some time this season, and Wittman just doesn't strike me as the kind of guy to be that inventive/experimental and play Porter at power forward. God help us if Nene is ever legitimately chucking up shots from beyond on the arc.

I think it'd be much better for the Wizards to be experimental and try a bunch of different lineups. Beal and Wall have enough talent to carry the Wizards through any tough offensive times, especially in the East. But this is Randy Wittman we're talking about. We all know the starting lineup is going to feature some combination of Gortat and Nene/Kris Humphries/Drew Gooden, because Wittman.