John Wall, Wizards closing in on new contract
The outlook for the Wizards has shifted upward since they ended the 2012-13 season with 29 wins.
They moved up in the draft lottery to No. 3 overall to select Otto Porter. They held true to their word by making a trade in the second round to bring in Glen Rice, widely regarded as a first-round talent.
They've moved quickly in free agency and are close to working out an extension with their best player, John Wall. So where does this leave them in the big picture, hoping to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2008?
Are the Wizards now better than the other six teams that finished ?
Detroit Pistons: The Wizards finished tied with them for 11th, but they’re taking on a distinctly different identity as they push to become a playoff team. The Pistons brought back PG Chauncey Billups, landed PF Josh Smith as a free agent and added 2013 draft picks SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG Tony Mitchell and Peyton Siva. Postseason prospects: Strongest of this bunch.
Cleveland Cavaliers: The health of C Andrew Bynum, who missed all of last season with a knee injury with Philadelphia, is everything. They took PF Anthony Bennett with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 draft and G-F Carrick Felix. Bennett is recovering from shoulder surgery and PG Kyrie Irving’s health always will be an issue, but since they lured PG Jarrett Jack in free agency he’ll be a more-than-competent replacement. They should easily surpass 24 wins from a year ago. Postseason prospects: Improved, but too many question marks to be certain how much so.
Orlando Magic: They appear to have made solid 2013 draft picks in SG Victor Oladipo and PF Romero Osby, which should put them well above their NBA-worst 20 wins from last season. Also brought PF Jason Maxiell on board in free agency. Postseason prospects: Better but still early in the post-Dwight Howard 12-step program.
Charlotte Bobcats: Owner Michael Jordan is finally spending money. He added size in PF-C Cody Zeller from the draft and PF-C Al Jefferson in free agency and re-signed SG Gerald Henderson. This should mean better than 21 wins which was last season’s total. Postseason prospects: Better, but only because they couldn't get any worse.
Toronto Raptors: After a 34-win season, they didn't have a 2013 draft pick and have made marginal acquisitions via free agency and trade with PG D.J. Augustin, PF Tyler Hansbrough, SF Steve Novak and SG Quentin Richardson. Postseason prospects: Predictably, none.
Philadelphia 76ers: Drafted PG Michael Carter-Williams and added C Nerlens Noel, who won’t be ready to start the season because of knee surgery, via trade. Carter-Williams will replace All-Star PG Jrue Holiday and is considered a project because of his shooting and tendency to turn it over. The Sixers, who won 34 games last year, still don’t have a coach. They've already given up on 2013-14. Postseason prospects: Laughable.