Disappointing season leaves major questions for the Wizards

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Sports,NBA,Wizards,Craig Stouffer

If there was no reason to fawn over the Wizards' six-game winning streak to end last season, there's similarly not enough at stake to be worried if they finish with six losses in a row.

That is what will be immediately at stake when the Wizards (29-52), who have lost five straight and are still searching for an elusive and morale-boosting 30th victory, visit the Chicago Bulls (44-37) on the final night of the regular season.

But the game on the surface won't be as important as the subtle indications that it will provide into the coming offseason, the concerns the Wizards must address and their hopes for next year.

Dealing in depth » While the Bulls are headed into the postseason without Derrick Rose and only five players who have played more than 65 games, the Wizards haven't shown the same kind of depth or resilience. They started the season 0-12 and 5-28 without John Wall and they're 8-17 without Bradley Beal.

Up next
Wizards at Bulls
When » Wednesday, 8 p.m.
Where » United Center,
Chicago
TV » CSN

On Monday, Washington's injury-ravaged lineup of mostly backups blew a 17-point lead against the similarly undermanned Brooklyn Nets. Emeka Okafor also became the latest casualty after spraining his right ankle, highlighting injury worries that remain a potential risk going forward.

Healthy days ahead? »

While Okafor has played 79 games, Nene's durability is a long-term concern after he appeared in just 61 contests. Backup power forward/center Kevin Seraphin has been a regular contributor off the bench with 9.1 points per game, but his rebounding (4.3 per game) must improve during the offseason.

The Wizards could choose to fortify the frontcourt during the offseason with their first-round draft choice or via trade. With regard to NBA Draft Lottery positioning, the Wizards are currently tied with Detroit for the seventh-worst record in the NBA. Depending on the outcome in Chicago and other results, they could finish tied for sixth-worst or eighth-worst.

Which reserves and free agents will remain? » Martell Webster's 3-point shooting was crucial to the Wizards' offensive arsenal, especially with Wall and Beal both healthy. But the Wizards could have competition for his signature. They also need to decide whether A.J. Price and Cartier Martin are worthy of commitment for next year and perhaps beyond.

But an overabundance of backup forwards -- all of whom were drafted by the franchise -- might be the biggest problem area. Trevor Booker staked his claim with 16 points and 13 rebounds against the Nets. Chris Singleton and Jan Vesely have both been far more sporadic in their contributions, to say the least. Vesely's regression from his rookie season (4.7 to 2.5 points per game, 4.4 to 2.4 rebounds) stands out as the most glaring failure of the Wizards' rebuild over the last three seasons.

That disappointment could be alleviated, at least temporarily, with a victory over the Bulls, as it would give the Wizards 30 wins and clinch a winning record since Wall's return in January.

Washington is 24-24 with Wall in the lineup, and Wall himself is convinced he's part of a top-five team in the East if they're healthy next season. Wednesday's finale is a reminder that it's a long way away.

cstouffer@washingtonexaminer.com

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Author:

Craig Stouffer

Staff writer - sports
The Washington Examiner