Bigger off-season move: Wall contract or signing Harrington
Earlier this month we learned the Wizards entire slate of games for the upcoming 2013-14 season and highlighted a few of the schedule's notable matchups. Now we go a bit deeper by counting down the 10 most interesting contests.
Game No. 10: Wizards at Bobcats, January 7
Game No. 9: Wizards vs. Kings, February 9
Game No. 8: Wizards vs. Knicks, November 23
Game No. 7: Wizards vs. Warriors, January 5
The interest: Let's label this "eye of the beholder" game. For those looking in the rear view mirror, no team represents the coulda, shoulda, woulda Wizards more than the Warriors. If Washington hadn't traded its 2009 first round pick in the now infamous deal with Minnesota for Mike Miller and Randy Foye, it would have been in position to draft Stephen Curry. With the No. 6 overall pick in 2011, the Wizards selected Jan Vesely over Klay Thompson. The former has struggled to remain in the rotation while the latter along with Curry shot Golden State into the Western Conference semifinals this season. Now the Wizards have assembled their own perimeter threats with Bradley Beal and Martell Webster on the wings and of course John Wall directing traffic. After years of no-hope, the Warriors have become on the NBA's most exciting teams and place notable free agents will go. If the Wizards' up-tempo designs put the franchise into the playoffs for the first time since 2008 - and do so with money coming off the books entering 2014 free agency - they might become this year's Warriors.
The Warriors: LeBron James won the championship last season, but Curry dominated the attention during the first two-playoff rounds with a dizzying array of high-arching distance shots, floaters that found nothing but net and the savvy of knowing when to take each type. At this point putting together projected roster for the 2016 Olympic team without Dell's son on it just doesn't look right. Factor in Thompson, fellow deep threat Harrison Barnes, free agent forward Andre Iguodola and perhaps no team is better suited for this small ball era than Golden State. The Warriors did potentially mess with their chemistry some by letting Carl Landry and Jarrett Jack leave in free agency. Their plethora of perimeter and wing threats should mess with the opposing defenses. Their second and final meeting with the Wizards comes out West on January 28.
The stat: Let's start practical. One of two Western Conference playoff teams the Wizards did not defeat last season along with San Antonio, Washington lost both matchups with Golden State last season. While the Warriors knocked down 3's as expected, the true difference maker was center David Lee, who averaged 16.0 rebounds along with 17.5 points. The Wizards were outrebounded by an average of 12 boards per game. As for the weird stat, Washington's top two scorers against Golden State last year were Jordan Crawford...and Cartier Martin.
The matchup: Rather obvious one here even if Wall and Curry play the point guard role in very different ways. Judging eyes will focus on the Wizards new max contract player whenever he faces one of the other elite options - especially one that previously signed for far less than $80 million. Beal vs. Barnes serves as a decent undercard for those recalling debates about the Wizards with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 draft.