The Washington Wizards had high hopes for the upcoming 2013-2014 NBA season with everything that they’ve accomplished this off-season. The Wizards were able to lock-up John Wall to a max-extension, grab Otto Porter and Glen Rice Jr. in the draft, get Bradley Beal back to full health and re-sign Martell Webster off a solid season last year. With all of those things, the Wizards are a young team with high hopes for their season.
However, before the start of training camp has even arrived, the Wizards are already facing their first challenge of the season. According to a press release on Wednesday from the Wizards, center Emeka Okafor has a herniated disk in his neck and is out indefinitely. He vows to be back this season, but the timetable is quite unsure as of right now.
The 30-year-old Okafor wasn’t phenomenal last season, but he was a solid player for Washington, especially with injures to Nene. In 79 games last season, Okafor averaged 9.7 points, 8.8 rebounds and one block in 26 minutes per game on 47.7 percent shooting. Though his offensive numbers weren’t great, he fit well into the Wizards’ defensive identity as a tough interior defender and rebounder.
With Okafor out indefinitely, though, the Wizards are in a bit of a pickle. Not only are the Wizards without a player that was going to be key to their rotations, but they are also now even more deficient at an already shallow position for them. Okafor and Nene are the only centers on Washington’s roster right now and their salary cap situation seems to dictate that they won’t be looking to sign anyone to replace Okafor for the short term, per David Aldridge.
Without Okafor, the Wizards also become a very small team. They weren’t incredibly big to begin with as their two centers stand at just 6’10” and 6’11”, but now they are quite an undersized team outside of Nene. More than that, Nene has a history of getting banged up, but there will be no real backup to that now that Okafor is out of the picture.
At full-strength, the Wizards are an interesting team to watch to potentially come out of the Eastern Conference and grab a spot in the postseason. However, things could be derailed by the Okafor injury. They could makes some changes to their roster and to their style, but that remains to be seen as of now.
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