For the third straight season, we're putting out predictions about how the Washington Wizards will perform this season. Last year, we hit on just under 40 percent of our predictions, so we'll try to make some improvements this season. That said, because we have writers who sometimes disagree with one another, so not every prediction can be correct.
This is also your time to make some predictions in the comments which last on the internet forever to your credit or shame. Without further ado, this year's predictions.
1. Bradley Beal will have a 50 point game this season
The fourth-year guard worked diligently on creating his own shot and scoring off the dribble in the summer. Beal will have the ball in his hands more often this season and the small, spread the floor offense should give Beal plenty of open shots. We should also get used to seeing Wall finding a trailing Beal in transition for three more often.
Bradley Beal's career high in a game is 37 points, so he's not terribly far away but this is the year that he drops 50 in a game. Oh ... and just for fun, it'll be on Saturday, 12/19 against the Charlotte Hornets. - Alan Jenkins
2. Bradley Beal will make his first All-Star game
This isn't really that BOLD of a prediction, but it's certainly bold to try to picture two Wizards in the same All-Star game. Wall is basically a lock to make the team every year that he's healthy for the rest of his career, but Beal will break through this year. Jimmy Butler, DeMar DeRozan, and Dwyane Wade are his main competition at the shooting guard spot (though the teams are just selected by frontcourt and backcourt now), and I see Beal taking over Wade's spot this season.
Wade's minutes per game have dropped each of the past two seasons, and his field goal percentage even fell below 50 percent last season. Even if Wade makes the team, there's a decent chance he'll just want to the time off to heal given his injury problems, or he may not even play enough games in the first half of the season for voters to justify giving him the nod. - Jon Munshaw
3. John Wall finishes second in MVP voting behind....
Kevin Durant. He was in the running last season up until that disastrous February that saw the team go 3-9 while posting a horrendous 96 points per 100 possessions, fourth worst in the league during that stretch. I'm buying that he can reach a level beyond what he did before February under an offensive philosophy that's finally tailored to his strengths. - Umair Khan
4. John Wall will have at least five triple-doubles this season
Although John Wall didn't have any triple-doubles last year, there were 15 games where the Wallstar logged double digit points, double digit assists, and at least six rebounds. If the ball bounces his way a couple of times, he achieves this feat last year. The ball will bounce Wall's way more this year to grab those rebounds. This actually isn't that bold of a prediction now that I think about it. - Alan Jenkins
5. John Wall has a 20-20 game this season
That's at least 20 points and 20 assists at some point this season. That's a tough thing to do, but I think with the new offensive system in place and a bunch of shooters surrounding him, Wall finally has his first 20 assist game and couples that with at least 20 points somewhere. -Mike Sykes
6. 2015-2016 Otto Porter will be better than 2014-2015 Paul Pierce
I made a similar prediction last season that ended up being disastrously wrong, BUT we never really got to see Porter play significant minutes consistently before the playoffs. While Pierce's intangibles, leadership, and big shots were a great help to this roster, his loss is being severely overrated. While he was a fine role player, his actual on-court production is fairly replaceable.
While Otto will not provide the same kind of one-on-one threat or secondary ball-handling ability and won't scare defenses as much from the perimeter, he brings several other skills to the table that fit this team better especially now that they are hoping to play at an up-tempo pace. The combination of his ability to make quick decisions with the ball, play in transition, make timely cuts and his hopefully improved jumper will make him a much better on-court fit with John Wall than Pierce was. Defensively, while Pierce was better than he was given credit for, especially in terms of team defense (communicating on the floor, making the proper rotations, etc.), the simple fact of the matter is that he was old and slow, and a playoff team was going to find ways to exploit him sooner or later, and that is exactly what the Hawks did.
Otto will not be the same kind of defensive liability. In fact, he should be guarding the best player every night, and his length and defensive IQ show that he has all the tools to be the perfect "3 & D" player in the modern NBA. I can see Otto being the kind of guy that stat guys really love and I believe his overall on-court production will actually be more valuable than Pierce's was last season. - Akbar Naqvi
7. Otto Porter Will Finish Top 5 in Defensive Player of the Year Voting
Bold? Yes. Crazy? Not really. Porter will never wow anyone with his athleticism, but his length and basketball IQ make him a versatile defender who can be effective guarding multiple positions. We saw flashes of Porters potential during last year's playoffs in his matchup against Demar DeRozan.
Starting at the small forward spot this year, Porter will be asked to guard some of the league's best offensive players: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Carmelo Anthony, amongst others. Strong showings against this group, plus a (hopefully) improved Wizards record should lead to career highs in blocks and steals, and a handful of praise for the third-year swingman. - Quinten Rosborough
8. Marcin Gortat plays less than 70 games this season
I really, really hope this doesn't happen because the Wizards don't have much of a back-up plan. But Gortat has played over 115 professional basketball games over the last year when counting last year's preseason, this year's preseason, last year's playoff run and his Eurobasket run. I don't think there's any way he plays another 82 straight after logging so many minutes in such a short period of time. -Mike Sykes
9. Nene will be benched early then traded before the deadline.
So far this preseason, the Wizards have been running and gunning and putting up 100+ points on a nightly basis. With the move to a smaller, quicker, lineup; that does not bode well for Nene's minutes going forward as he's already been demoted to a backup.
As the season rolls along, Nene's minutes will deteriorate in favor of someone who can knock down outside shots and stretch the floor. Even with the cap rising in 2016, Nene will be shipped out of town and someone will take on his expiring contract as the big man's traditional back to the basket game no longer fits what the Wizards are trying to do. - Alan Jenkins
10. Nene will have a mini-resurgence
While much has been made about Nene's demotion from starting power forward to backup center, the simple fact of the matter is that this is the best way to optimize him, especially on the offensive end. Playing Nene at the 5 will not open up the floor for the other players around him, but it will make it much easier for him to operate in the low post or elbow areas. He won't have to fit passes into tight windows anymore, he will have more room to face-up and he'll have much more freedom on the floor to do what he does best. I haven't even mentioned the fact that he will be facing players inferior to him almost every night.
A healthy Nene is likely one of the best backup centers in the league. If he really is in the best shape since he's been in Washington, that will be yet another factor that aids him in being even more productive than he has been in years past on the offensive end. From a defensive standpoint, Nene gives the Wizards the flexibility to play a completely different style. Because of his ability to defend perimeter players, the Wizards would be able to switch even more liberally than they already do with Gortat as the 5. This would help against teams with quicker big men and allow more turnovers and opportunities for the Wizards to run. - Akbar Naqvi
11. Kris Humphries will launch at least 100 threes and shoot less than 30 percent
Exactly two big men made this list a season ago: Jared Sullinger and Darrell Arthur. Everyone else appearing on it were either wings who can't shoot that had to slide up a position to aid their team's floor spacing, guards who had to hoist enough triples to keep defenses honest, or gunners who didn't know any better. I'm going to guess that this list will double by the end of this season, with Humphries making an appearance. -Umair Khan
12. Kris Humphries will shoot a maximum of ten threes after the first 30 games
First you were given the optimistic prediction for Humpthrees, and now I'm going to bum you out. I really feel that this experiment has the potential to be shut down very fast. It's all fun and games in the preseason, but if the season moves along and Hump is missing a large chunk of open, or lord forbid, contested threes, I could see Randy pulling the plug. - Brandon Hartman
13. Drew Gooden logs more minutes than Kris Humphries
I think Humphries will start off the season as the starter, but as time goes on I think he struggles to stay beyond the three-point line with his offense and struggles to defend in space. He may remain in his starting role, but I think Gooden will finish a lot of games. He's not the best defender, and he's a bit worse than Humphries, but he's used to playing out on the perimeter and I think that will benefit him here. They're going to need a little bit of both, though, to have a successful season. -Mike Sykes
14. Disregard the last three predictions, Kris Humphries will look great this season
I won't stand for all this Kris Humphries slander from my colleagues. Kris Humphries has proven himself to be a more than adequate midrange shooter and he's shot well enough in preseason to suggest his three-point shooting isn't a fluke. He shot 35 percent on four attempts per game during the preseason, and he's got all the incentive in the world to keep it up in a contract year.
As defenses start to recognize he can shoot from deep, Humphries will have to make adjustments, but I'm confident enough in his shooting to think he won't be an offensive liability. And if that's the case, he has enough defensive value to be a key part of the team's rotation, whether it's as a starter or off-the-bench. -Jake Whitacre
15. Jared Dudley will be starting at the 4 by the All-Star break.
The offense will get off to a good enough start to justify Kris Humphries' spot in the starting lineup, but Randy Wittman is one Nene injury away from being without a backup center, and only a few meaningful minutes away from realizing that answer isn't DeJuan Blair. In comes Dudley, who will have already logged enough minutes with the starters by that point while Humphries joins Gooden on the second unit to form their own version of the AARP unit. -Umair Khan
16. Gary Neal will average a career high in points this season.
Gary Neal should benefit greatly from the Wizards new run-and-gun system. Floor spacing and driving kick outs should give Neal plenty of open three-pointers in transition. Initially, Neal will be counted on to pick up the scoring for the second unit as Alan Anderson is sidelined with an injury.
Neal's light is always neon green and once his shot starts falling; look out. Neal will come off the bench to average a career high, 13 points this season. -Alan Jenkins
17. Ramon Sessions will shoot worse from beyond the arc this season than he did with Washington last season
Sessions shot 40.6 percent from beyond the arc last season with the Wizards. It was the third-highest mark of his career, behind only his rookie season where he shot 3-7 from behind the arc (42.9 percent) and his 2011-12 season where he averaged 44.3 percent from beyond the arc with the Cavaliers and Lakers.
Other than those two seasons and the tail end of last season, Sessions has never shot better than 32 percent. With a contract on the line, there's every reason to hope Sessions has a respectable season beyond the arc, but I'm not going to gamble on him maintaining or improving on what he did over a 28-game stretch last season. -Jake Whitacre
18. Kelly Oubre will play less than 1000 minutes this year
Rookies generally aren't good. This is especially true of very young rookies who are drafted more on potential than on their production in college. Consequently, those type of rookies don't tend to see much time on teams that are aspiring to deep playoff runs.
While Kelly Oubre may turn out to be an excellent upside pick for the Wizards and may tantalize Wizards fans with flashes of great play, those moments will mostly come in garbage time as Randy Wittman looks to optimize the Wizards' playoff position in the last guaranteed year of his contract. -Nick Bilka
19. Kelly Oubre Jr. will average less than 10 minutes per game
I hope this turns out to be false, but I don't see how Oubre fits into this rotation. When everyone is healthy, Oubre will be behind Jared Dudley and Alan Anderson. In his rookie year, Otto Porter only averaged 8.6 minutes per game, and didn't start a single game.
Trevor Ariza and Martell Webster mainly took those minutes at small forward, and I don't see how a duo of Porter and Dudley plays less than 38 minutes or so a game.
There's a possibility of Oubre playing some shooting guard, especially with Webster's current ongoing health concerns, but it's tough to see Wittman playing him any more than a few minutes this year, especially after looking at how he used Porter in his rookie campaign. -Jon Munshaw
20. Alan Anderson never cracks the rotation.
After undergoing ankle surgery, Alan Anderson has no current timetable for return. I predict that after a frustratingly lengthy recovery process with multiple setbacks, Anderson will struggle to work his way into the Wizards rotation (must to the frustration of the Wizards fanbase, who will think Wittman didn't give him a fair shot). I hope I'm wrong. - L.W.
21. Garrett Temple will find himself in the rotation again
The Wizards wings are banged up. Despite the fact that they loaded up at the position and are looking to play smaller, there are several factors that might see their wing rotation much thinner than we anticipate. Alan Anderson is suffering from an injury, and since there is no real timetable for his return and the Wizards have known to be super cautious with players, there is a high possibility that we do not see him in action for a long time. Jared Dudley was projected to be more of a stretch four this season anyway, and with his current conditioning, there is no way that playing him at the 3 would be optimal. Kelly Oubre is a rookie, rookies are usually bad, and there really aren't as many exceptions as one would think to this rule. Martell Webster has been a shell of himself and seems to continue to struggle with injuries. That leaves Temple, who is one of the team's most reliable utility players and one of Randy Wittman's favorites. If the Wizards are running short on wing players, you can bet that Temple will be ready to step in and that Wittman will trust him. -Akbar Naqvi
22. The Wizards will sweep the Hawks this season.
The Hawks are in for some regression, y'all, and the Wizards roster and fast pace is much better suited to challenge them this year. Beal will use his newly discovered defensive prowess to shut down Kyle Korver (again), and Otto Porter will have no trouble containing Thabo Sefolosha and Kent Bazemore. Paul Millsap and Al Horford will still have big games against Washington, but Jared Dudely and Kris Humphries will rain threes to make up the difference. -L.W.
23. The Wizards will win the Southeast Division
The Atlanta Hawks kept most of their key players but lost DeMarre Carroll to the Raptors in free agency; a fairly big loss which leaves the Hawks with a big hole at the Small Forward spot. Also, it's fair to believe that they'll come back to earth a bit as another 60 win season is very unlikely.
The Heat have been anointed the ‘surprise' team in the East but I don't see why. Yes, Goran Dragic was a nice pickup but their other key players include an aging, often-injured Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh who's coming off of a health scare, and an aging Luol Deng. Will they be improved? Sure. Will they shoot up to the top of the Southeast and contend in the Eastern Conference? I'm not buying it.
The Wizards' kept their main core intact and added some key players to boost production off the bench in a very underrated, summer outside of Washington, D.C. Otto Porter seems to be turning the corner and if Bradley Beal can elevate his game to All-Star status, there's no reason why the Wizards can't win as many or more games than last season. 48-50 wins may be enough to capture the division, and I think the Wizards do it. -Alan Jenkins
24. The Wizards will have home court throughout the Eastern portion of the playoffs
This is supposed to be a bold prediction, right? I really think this is ascertainable. The Wizards' competition here would be the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Chicago Bulls, the Toronto Raptors and the Atlanta Hawks. The Cavaliers are going to start the season slow with Irving still out due to injury. James just had another procedure done on his back--which could be cause for concern. I think he takes a step back in production. The Hawks lost a key contributor in DeMarre Carroll. We've seen their new system one year in and every team they faced in the playoffs competed well against it. The Wizards have had their struggles with the Raptors in the past, but I think they exorcised those demons when they swept them last year. The Bulls are another year older with a rookie head coach.
I'm not saying I know this is certainly going to happen, but I expect the Wizards to get off to a fast start even with a tough schedule. If they are able to do so, it isn't inconceivable that they'd hold a number one seed in the conference by the end of the regular season. -Mike Sykes
25. The Wizards will not be the fastest team in the NBA this season
Washington has played a really exciting brand of basketball during the preseason, but while the turbocharged style has been exciting, it is not sustainable over the course of a season. It's one thing to average 105 possessions per game when your starters are playing 20 minutes per game, you have 20 players at your disposal and the end results don't matter.
The Warriors led the NBA last season at 100 possession per game. We haven't seen a team average 105 possessions since the 1991 Denver Nuggets coached by Paul Westhead. So while there's a good chance the Wizards play faster and possibly turn into one of NBA's fastest teams, there's no way they'll continue to redline like they have in preseason play. -Jake Whitacre
26. The Wizards will have one of the best benches in the NBA
Assuming the starting lineup stays as it is, the Wizards starting lineup may take a step back in terms of the overall points per possessions differential. Consider the Wizards current bench lineup. For all of the talk of his decline, it is well within Nene's ability to be among the best backup centers in the NBA. As long as the Wizards continue to get Direct TV/Wizards Ramon Sessions, and not Cable/Sacramento Kings Ramon Sessions (*sponsored), they should also have one of the best backup point guards in the east. Jared Dudley, Gary Neal and Alan Anderson (when he returns from his injury) will round out a versatile and talented second unit, with Drew Gooden, Garrett Temple and the now slimmer Dejuan Blair able to provide spot minutes in a pickle. This will enable the Wizards to rest John Wall and Marcin Gortat more, which can only help them given the faster pace they will play this year. -Nick Bilka
27. Randy Wittman will get at least one vote for Coach of the Year
Let's be proactive about this: If the changes Wittman made over the summer work, and the Wizards make big improvements on the offensive end without sacrificing their defense to do it, Washington is going to be very good this year. And if Washington is very good this year, Wittman will deserve a lot of the credit for improving the team in a season where the team didn't make many changes to the roster.
Sure, you could argue Wittman put himself in this situation by not implementing some of these changes earlier, but the point stands: If Wittman can coach a team that's top-10 on offense and defense, he will earn Coach of the Year consideration. It's too early to say if he'll win without knowing how the rest of the NBA performs, but he would have to be in the discussion. -Jake Whitacre
28. Randy Wittman gets fired this season
Yes, I'm hedging on my prediction here, but it's hard to imagine a scenario where one of these two things does not happen. Either Wittman's changes work and help move the Wizards to the next level, or they don't work and things go badly very quickly. If that happens, the Wizards can't afford to wait around for things to sort themselves out with so much on the line for next summer and with so many current players on expiring deals who will start pushing their own agendas if they can't trust leadership.
I'm leaning more towards the former prediction than the latter, but both are certainly in play until we have a better understanding of how the Wizards fare early this season. -Jake Whitacre
29. The Wizards will still struggle to make their mark in the DC market
For as much as people like to refer to DC as a "basketball town", you wouldn't know it from the local support for the NBA team. Even after making an impressive run in the playoffs in 2014, empty seats abounded for the season home opener last year. Though there has been an uptick of interest as reflected in attendance and TV ratings, the Wizards remain an afterthought in a market dominated by the football and baseball teams.
Don't expect that to change more than incrementally this year. Tonight's home opener falls on Halloween, which provides a ready-made excuse for empty seats, and beyond the KD2DC craziness on November 10th and an early matchup with the Spurs, the early home schedule doesn't provide much for fans would rather stay home and dissect the barometric pressure during each of Kirk Cousins' passes last Sunday.
That said, if the Wizards can excel with an entertaining, up-tempo style, maybe the Wizards will have a window between football and baseball seasons to be the talk of the town. -Nick Bilka
30. Wizards will finish in the top five in free throw percentages this year
You have to get your free points. Last season, the Wizards as a team shot 74.2 percent from the free throw stripe, 21st in the NBA. Free throws ended up being a bit of an issue for the team, as they also ended up finishing 22nd in the NBA in actually getting to the line, averaging around 21.4 attempts per game.
This year, things should change for the better at the line. By shifting Nene to the bench (who shot 60.4 percent from the line) and thus giving him fewer minutes, the Wizards should see improved results just from that move alone. Nene's streaky free throw shooting will be replaced by Humphries (74.4 percent), Gooden (77.3 percent), and Dudley's (71.6 percent) stable numbers in 2014. Bringing in Gary Neal, who has shot 84.9 percent from the line over his career, will certainly help as well.
But it will be the faster paced offense and more possessions that should help the Wizards the most with free throws, as they will be getting more attempts at the very least. Yes, the team lost a strong free throw shooter in Paul Pierce, who shot 78.1 percent last year, but Porter, who shot 73.4 percent last year, should get a boost with improved confidence and time on the court this year. Last year, Atlanta finished 5th in total free throw shooting percentage, making 77.8 percent of their free throws, a number the Wizards should very much be in play for this season. - Brandon Hartman
31. The Wizards will trade for a center before the deadline
No, not a starting center, but someone that's not DeJuan Blair. As Alan predicted, Nene's expiring deal will likely be traded this season, and as Ernie Grunfeld has shown in the past, he won't hesitate to trade picks.
Gortat has been a very reliable center and rarely misses time, but DeJuan Blair is a very shaky insurance policy to carry around. Even if Washington starts playing smaller and Drew Gooden spends time at center, it seems as if that would be the Wizards strongest position of need if they were to start shopping Nene's contract.
I don't think it'd be crazy to see Al Jefferson come to Washington as a rental player — the Hornets may be looking to tank and he'll be an unrestricted free agent this summer. He'd probably want to be a starter and it's very unlikely Gortat and Jefferson would be on the floor at the same time, but you never know.
Either way, if Nene is on the move, the Wizards top target is going to be a center. -Jon Munshaw
32. The Washington Wizards will win the 2015-16 NBA Championship
I'm going for the jugular here, as my colleagues make very intelligent bold predictions, I'd rather go for the "anything is possible" KG celebration prediction here. No one expects them to get out of the Eastern Conference Semifinals again this year. There's the added incentive of being better than expected in the East, and being a sleeper to win the whole thing. In my mind, I have Stephen Curry and John Wall going head to head, Wall falls for some of Curry's oops and loops but after Game 1, the Wizards dominate on both defense and offense, and win it all in Game 5 at home.
Bradley Beal and Klay Thompson will also be a great head-to-head match-up, but Beal has the upper hand here. Once he flips his switch he is unstoppable, we've all seen it. Sessions and Barbosa could be interesting as well, I'm getting excited just thinking about this right now. And, Porter & Draymond......ooouuhhh.
Have fun with me, visualize the Wizards still playing basketball in June. And maybe, you just might see it happen. Here's to the 2015-16 NBA Season, may any and everything happen in the Wizards favor. -Courtney Ward
33. Kevin Durant will disappoint Wizards fans this summer
... when he waits until July 8th to announce he's signing with the Washington Wizards. If he had announced before the 4th, Kevin Durant could have been welcomed home with the best fireworks show ever. -Jake Whitacre