This weekend the Washington Wizards expect to have John Wall suit up and play for the first time all season. This will be an exciting time for fans, the organization, and Wall alike as he slowly works his way back from a knee injury. Here is a look at what the starting lineup and rotation should be once Wall gets up to speed.
Wall should eventually claim his spot at point guard once his conditioning gets up to par. Doctors may also want to monitor his minutes to start to make sure no setbacks occur in the healing process. Wall is a key cog to everything the Wizards are trying to do so having him healthy is priority number one. Wall has to demonstrate that he did work on his game this summer and has become more cerebral in his approach to playing point guard in the NBA. He also has to show improvement in his mid range game which will open up more driving lanes for him. Wall has to also show more desire on the defensive end of the floor. This is a point guard’s league now. Every night there will be a new challenge and he must be willing to step up and take each player head on.
Bradley Beal should continue to start at shooting guard. Beal has really started to come into his own lately hitting a shot to send the Wizards into double overtime against the Brooklyn Nets then hitting the game winner against the Oklahoma City Thunder had to have boosted his confidence even more. He should benefit by the arrival of Wall as it will provide more fast break opportunities as well as provide more open opportunities in half court sets. Beal was drafted to be the back court running mate for Wall and no time is better than the present to see what they have.
Martell Webster should continue to get the nod at small forward. Webster has come on as of late and even picked up his defensive efforts. Having shooters in the game with Wall is essential, especially if he can’t shoot. Floor spacing will be key as Wall returns and Webster provides that, Trevor Ariza doesn’t.
Nene Hilario should continue to start at the power forward spot as long as he is healthy. Nene provides a calmness and leadership quality that you rarely see when he isn’t on the court. He also raises the basketball IQ of the team, making things easier for everyone when he is playing his game. Nene will also be relieved of being relied on so heavily once Wall returns.
Emeka Okafor should continue to start at center. Ever since he and Nene started sharing the starting lineup together, Okafor has been on a double double tear. Rebounding and defensive stability is what the Wizards were looking for when they traded for him and he has finally started to provide just that. Okafor can get up and down the court and you don’t have to run many offensive sets for him in the half court. He is a professional and knows what he is in the game for. That is always a bonus on a young squad.
Jordan Crawford is the 6th man of this team. Ariza, A.J. Price, and Kevin Seraphin should all continue to see important minutes. Once Trevor Booker gets healthy he should get a chance to rotate with the big men as well. Randy Whittman has to be happy to finally start getting his team healthy and together. The Wizards may have dug themselves too huge a hole as far as the playoffs are concerned, but now is the time to find out what you really have for the future.