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Washington Wizards preview (Part 2): How will the team's rotations shake out this season?

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Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

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. You can catch Part 1 of our preview here.

Does it matter who starts at power forward this season?

by Akbar Naqvi

One of the conundrums that has been on the minds of Wizards fans since the conclusion of the offseason is who will be the team's starting power forward. The traditional starter, Nene, is still here, but with his decline and the Wizards transparency in trying to play smaller and faster, it looks like they're gearing him towards being the team's backup center. Drew Gooden, Kris Humphries and even new offseason acquisition Jared Dudley have been conjectured as possible starting power forwards for the Wizards, as they seem to bring more of an outside presence and in Dudley’s case, more speed on the defensive end.

However, my question here is, does it really matter? The Wizards have already indicated that they plan to play smaller, and they certainly have the tools to do so, considering the acquisition of Dudley, Kris Humphries reportedly working on his 3 point shot, Gooden’s newfound 3-point prowess from the playoffs and Otto Porter also planning to eventually be able to step into the playmaking 4 role. With a plethora of lineup options, flexibility, and players who all bring unique skills to the table, it seems fairly nitpicky to be worried about who’s playing the first 5-7 minutes of each game. As they say, it doesn’t necessarily matter how you start, but how you finish. Randy Wittman has always been one to change his lineups based on matchups and he has all the tools to do that. He can play small with all the options mentioned above, or he could go back to the two big lineups when the Wizards need to get down and dirty.

Of course, there is some kind of value to starting strong in games, and the starting lineup obviously has an effect there. Some of the best teams are on their A-game from the get-go, and you want to make sure you do not dig a hole too early. However, in my personal opinion, the starter at power forward is not as relevant as it is being made out to be. What will matter, is how Randy Wittman will adjust his rotation for different matchups and whether he can design the right offensive system around the players he currently has at his disposal.

Who won't be on the Wizards roster come playoff time?

by Quinten Rosborough

Since being tasked with building a roster good enough to entice Kevin Durant to come home to the nation’s capital, GM Ernie Grunfeld has done a remarkable job of creating a team that can compete for an Eastern Conference title (hopefully) while maintaining maximum cap space for the Durantula’s return to the DMV. Jared Dudley, Kelly Oubre, Ramon Sessions, and even the Marcin Gortat extension have all proven to be deft moves in the pursuit of our big fish, Kevin Durant.

The sign and trade of DeJuan Blair, however, was not one of those moves.

On paper, or rather an NBA 2K roster, DeJuan Blair has all the trappings of an NBA player. He has the reputation for being an elite rebounder, and based off of the three playoff games against the Spurs we all use to justify his signing, he can be an elite defender at times as well. Unfortunately for us Wizards fans, the Dejuan Blair we acquired was a bit, how do I say this? Robust, which prevented him from carving out meaningful minutes in the team’s crowded frontcourt. Blair had the worst season of his career on last year’s Wizards team, averaging just 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds in 180 total minutes.

Blair came into this season’s training camp 30 pounds lighter, but at the end of the day, his playing weight won't determine his role on this year’s team. Unfortunately for DeJuan, he’s a big man who can’t shoot or protect the rim, an endangered species in the modern NBA. He can’t pass or defend as well as Nene, nor can he shoot or rebound as well as Kris Humphries, which barring injury, means he’s the most expendable player on the Wizards roster. Look for Grunfeld to package Blair in a deal to bring additional short-term support to this roster around the trade deadline, or better yet cut the team’s losses to make room for Josh Harrelson or Jaleel Roberts, for whom the Wizards have extended training camp invitations.

How will the new additions contribute to the Wizards playoff chances?

by Courtney Ward

This off-season the Wizards added Jared Dudley, Alan Anderson, and Gary Neal, experienced veterans with nine years of playoff experience between them.

We know Alan Anderson from the Brooklyn Nets, where at times, he looked liked he only player who could score for them during the playoffs vs. Atlanta as he shot 61 percent from the field and averaged 11 points per game. He should be an immediate upgrade over Rasual Butler from last season as a backup wing behind Bradley Beal and Otto Porter.

Jared Dudley made a name for himself as a knock down three-point shooter off the bench, especially in playoff runs with the Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks. Last year in Milwaukee, he helped a young team find their identity and score a surprising playoff berth. Once he returns from offseason back surgery, he'll be expected to help the Wizards by spacing the floor and covering power forwards who can create offense from that position.

Gary Neal is known most for his runs with the San Antonio Spurs. Neal is at his best as a spot-up shooter and creating off-the-dribble, where the Wizards could use some help when John Wall and Bradley Beal are off the floor.

Who will be the Wizards' most reliable player off the bench?

by Alan Jenkins

When it's all said and done, Gary Neal should emerge as the most reliable player for the Wizards off the bench this upcoming season. The Baltimore native has averaged between 9.5-11.8 points per game over his seven-year career with the majority of his playing time coming off the bench. Neal has a nice jump shot and is more than capable of knocking down open three-pointers; something the Wizards have never really had in a backup point guard.

In addition to his scoring, Neal has big-game experience. Neal played on the Spurs for the first three years of his career and although he wasn't part of their championship team, he does have finals experience and has played deep into the playoffs.

I do think Alan Anderson will provide key scoring off the bench for the second unit which often had issues scoring last season. However, Neal is the better all around player, which should benefit this team more during over the long haul.

Will the Wizards be active at or near the trade deadline?

by Jon Munshaw

Sorry, Nene. Your time has come. This is the last year of his $13 million contract before he becomes an unrestricted free agent. Besides Nene, the Wiz also have Alan Anderson, Ramon Sessions, Gary Neal, Garrett Temple and Dudley all on expiring deals. That's trade bait if I've ever heard it.

It's clear the Wizards structured their cap space to be primed for #KD2DC, but that doesn't mean they can't flip their expiring deals for other role players on minor deals that could help them out this season, and still give them the flexibility to offer Durant the max and give Beal an extension next summer.

I frankly don't have any names right now that stand out to me — it'll depend on how the season goes. Say they become thin at center because of a Marcin Gortat injury or Beal is hampered once again by injuries, the expiring contracts would at least give the Wizards a chance to go out and either get another player on an expiring deal, or a stop-gap guy for a low salary to help them limp into, or through, the playoffs.