The Washington Wizards seem to have finally arrived as contenders in the watered down Eastern Conference. Their nucleus of John Wall, Bradley Beal, Trevor Ariza, and Marcin Gortat vaulted them to a second round appearance in the playoffs this past season. The nucleus seems to be a core that will be a force for the foreseeable future, until now.
The Wizards made a rather curious decision by bringing in soon to be Hall of Fame talent Paul Pierce. While we all know that Pierce is known as The Truth, he just isn’t what the Wizards need right now. Pierce is a champion, that can not be argued, however he simply isn’t the same player we came to know and love. His best years are clearly behind him, and he is not a good fit for the Wiz.
The guard combination of Wall and Beal is scary, to say the least. The ultra athletic combo look to cause havoc in the Eastern Conference. The Wizards uptempo, free flowing style of play fits the talents of Ariza better than Pierce. Pierce is a winner, a small forward with a resume that trumps Ariza. However, Ariza is not on the last leg of his career and he is not 36 years of age.
Ariza shot a career high 40.7 percent from three point land last year, while averaging 14.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 77 games. Pierce, on the other hand, shot 45 percent from the field while averaging 13.5 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 28 minutes per game. The methodical half court offense that the Brooklyn Nets ran was tailor made for Pierce at this stage in his career. While the numbers are somewhat similar, the disparity comes with what you want for the team.
Pierce will provide the championship mentality, the veteran leadership that a young team needs and some timely buckets in the clutch. While all that sounds good, he has changed the dynamic of the team. Otto Porter may have to see more minutes because Pierce simply can’t play 35 minutes a game like Ariza did.
You can look at the glass half-empty or half-full, but the bottom line is the water within the cup just doesn’t fit what Washington is trying to serve. The Wizards are trying to add experience, but they let go a important glue guy while doing so. The Washington brass will look like geniuses if it pans out how it should.