No one likes to admit that they're wrong, including me. But I'm going to do just that today, and force other writers to do the same.
At the All-Star break, here's a look back at some predictions that writers made in the offseason regarding the Wizards, and see if they're on track to meet, exceed, or fall short of those expectations.
Bradley Beal would be an All-Star this season
Who: Me, Bullets Forever
What I said:
"Bradley Beal will make his first All-Star game"
Am I right so far?: Obviously, this turned out to be wrong.
But had Beal not been injured so often in the first half, which I realize is a big ask for him, I think he could have made the game.
The East had a strong roster, no doubt, but Isaiah Thomas presumably would be the first one out of the backcourt if the season restarted.
In Beal's healthiest month, November, he averaged 17.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game while shooting almost 39 percent from three. That was with his usage rating at 23.2 percent. His mark rose to above 26 percent in each of the following months.
Thomas, for the season, is averaging more points, assists and the same number of rebounds as Beal's November, but with a usage rating of 28.8 percent.
All I'm saying is, Beal was hot early on in the season, and had he not been hampered by injury, he would have had a shot at making the All-Star game.
Otto Porter would be an upgrade over Paul Pierce
Who: Akbar Naqvi, Bullets Forever (Sorry, Akbar)
What they said:
"2015-2016 Otto Porter will be better than 2014-2015 Paul Pierce"
Are they right so far?: OK, this is the only other BF prediction I'm calling back to, only because I don't have enough time to go through all of them.
But this one stands out because I think it was the biggest storyline for the Wizards heading into this season.
Pierce was their only big name to leave in free agency, and he was a huge reason why the Wizards were as good as they were last season. If Washington was going to be successful, Porter was going to have to fill that role.
Unfortunately, Akbar is wrong so far on this one. Although Porter does have a chance to turn his season around, given the injuries he's had to fight through in the first half.
Here's how Porter and Pierce's numbers break down again, with Porter's current season and Pierce's 2014-15 campaign.
|Player||PPG||APG||RPG||3P%||TS%||Offensive rating||Defensive rating||WS/48|
It was known going into the season that Randy Wittman wanted to run an offense that took more threes. The biggest thing that stands out to me is three-point shooting. Pierce attempted about two threes more per game than Porter is, and is making them at a much higher clip.
Pierce's defensive rating was much better than Porter's right now, which is also notable. Pierce, especially in the playoffs, was taking on the other team's best offensive player game after game. That's not something that Porter can do effectively right now.
A lot of that has to do with Porter's age and general inexperience, but still worth noting the drop in production there.
The Wizards' bench would struggle
What they said:
"Deep bench players Gary Neal, DeJuan Blair, Garrett Temple, and Martell Webster shouldn't play major roles, though Temple is a competent reserve, while Blair had an outstanding preseason and appears to be in much better shape than last season."
He also said the Wizards finish sixth in the East with a 42-40 record.
Are they right so far?: YThe prediction for the record isn't looking great (the Wizards would have to go 19-12 in the final stretch to hit the 42-win mark), but he was right about the bench. I don't even have to tell you about Wall's on/off stats for you to know what's going on here.
And, due to injuries, the players that Broom mentions here have actually taken on a bigger role than anyone had expected in the offseason.
Broom's player projections had Nene, Alan Anderson, Drew Gooden and Kelly Oubre all as below-average players compared to the league average.
Blair has been banished to the bench and basically only comes in at times to set hard picks or to intentionally foul.
Temple has been much better than anyone expected, but he's also been playing a much larger role than anyone expected. He deserves credit for how well he's played so far, but if you had said that on Day 1, Temple would be averaging 25.6 minutes per game, no fan would be excited about the season.
Neal has been better than expected on offense, but his defense is a liability every second he's on the floor.
The Wizards would be a .500 team
What they said:
The Wizards will finish .500, and only three starters will have a positive offensive plus/minus
Are they right so far?: Basically, yes. The Wiz finishing at .500 is almost a best-case scenario at this point. In order to finish at that mark, they have to win 18 of their final 31 games.
And as far as the plus/minus goes, their predictions are almost spot-on.
Before the season started, FiveThirtyEight predicted three Wizards starters will have a positive offensive plus/minus: Wall, Beal and Porter. And guess what? That's spot-on. Wall's real offensive plus/minus, according to ESPN, is 2.99, just below their prediction of 3.1.
Beal's is much lower than his prediction, and injuries played a lot into that, and Porter just barely breaks into the positives.
The biggest disappointment in this category is Marcin Gortat. FiveThirtyEight predicted he'd be in the negatives at -0.9 in offensive plus/minus, but he's been far worse -1.93, which ranks 58th among 77 qualified centers.
The Wizards would be caught in a trap season
What they said:
"You know how good teams experience trap games? I feel like this is a potential trap season. (Or, they could win 55 games and make the conference finals.)"
Are they right so far?: I think "trap season" might be the best way to describe the 2015-16 Wizards campaign.
Losing Paul Pierce? Ah, he was old anyway.
KD2DC? Of course!
Beal progressing? All he has to do is stay healthy.
Wizards fans, including myself, were just hoping for the best. And the best hasn't happened this year.
The Wizards would be a lock for the playoffs
Who: Zach Lowe, ESPN (Grantland at the time)
What they said:
"A month later, they look like a 100 percent lock for the playoffs, primed to chase something higher than another 4-versus-5 series. Kris Humphries has usurped Nene's starting spot and shot 10-of-28 from deep in preseason after hitting just two regular-season triples over his entire career. He even canned some semi-contested 3s that required a quick trigger. That's encouraging, because teams are going to leave Humphries (and Otto Porter Jr.) open to contain John Wall-Gortat pick-and-rolls with Bradley Beal spotting up. If Humphries can make them pay, the Wiz are onto something."
The Wizards were lumped into the "solid playoff team, but nothing more" group of his season preview.
Are they right so far?: Oh no, Zach.
A lot of his preview centered around the Wizards new small-ball style of play. He even went so far as to say that Kris Humphries was a darkhorse candidate for Most Improved Player.
As far as small-ball goes, the Wizards have been using Jared Dudley pretty often at the 4, and will even go to a three-guard lineup at times with Sessions, Wall and Beal or Temple.
But they're really not taking that many threes. They're currently tied for 14th among all teams in threes attempted per game. However, they do have the sixth highest team three-point percentage in the league.
Lowe was touting Humphries when saying the Wiz would become more of a small-ball team.
Granted, he's only played four minutes since Jan. 3 due to injury, but it's not like he was stroking it from three before that.
Humphries is making 0.8 threes per game this season and is attempting 2.4. That's a high rate given Humphries' career trajectory but still lower than other middling stretch-4s such as Channing Frye, Patrick Patterson, and Ersan Ilyasova. The 2.4-per-game mark is also much lower than the 4-per-game Humphries was attempting in the preseason, which Lowe referenced.
Lowe's prediction that small-ball will propel the Wizards to success has basically fallen apart given injuries to Humphries, Alan Anderson and Martell Webster, who's now off the team.