Note: This is the latest installment in a ten-part series on the top storylines facing the Wizards this season. Check CSNwashington.com daily for additional entries.
Wizards owner Ted Leonsis made it clear this off-season that he doesn't want to be a lottery team anymore. The Wizards have gone four straight summers with lottery selections and five straight seasons without a playoff appearance and, as Leonsis stated, "that isn't fun." Is this the year that the rebuilding Wizards drought ends and the team avoids the lottery?
"We would find it unacceptable if we finished with the second or third worst record in the NBA this year," Leonsis recently said. "That would be a failure and the failure would start with me."
A lot of factors will determine the Wizards fate this season and right now the team's two best players, guard John Wall and center Nene, are trying to heal from knee and foot injuries. Wall likely will miss the first 12 regular season games with a sore knee, while Nene hopes to bebackfor the season opener October 30 as he is recovering from a sore foot. If these two can get healthy, then the Wizards have a much better shot at turning things around. If they aren't, it could be another long season.
Wizards coach Randy Wittman will have his work cut out for him trying to figure out who fills in at least for Wall to start the season.
"The coach has done a really, really good job to say you will earn your minutes by competing and I think that's the big first step," Leonsis said. "I think they all understand that winning is a lot of fun and camaraderie and teamwork and being coachable is all part of that process."
Wall and guard Cartier Martin are the lone holdovers from the start of the 2010 season as the roster has been overhauled and then developed through recent draft picks and the addition of some proven veterans. It's a new team on paper, but will the Wizards have results similar to a season ago when they went 20-46 in the lockout-shortened season?
"Why not try to make the playoffs? Leonsis asked. "Just a couple games over .500 seems to get you there and that's how the guys are looking at it."