Cover Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images


[In the 30 days leading up to the season opener, we'll preview all 30 NBA teams, from Tanking Teams to Lottery Leaders to Warriors Wannabes. Tanking Teams are fighting for the No. 1 pick. Lottery Leaders could make the playoffs, or they could land in the lottery. Warriors Wannabes are title contenders. Then there are the Warriors in a league by themselves. Team 12 in our preseason rankings is the Washington Wizards. Check back every day for previews of every team in the NBA followed by our complete preseason rankings.]


Key Losses: Marcin Gortat, Mike Scott. The Washington Wizards are certainly going to look different after the team ended their five-year stint with center Marcin Gortat. Despite on-and-off court issues with John Wall, Gortat was still a huge part of this team. He led the Wizard in rebounds, was a center who could bang in the post and was a pick-and-roll threat constantly despite average just over eight points a game. Scott will also be missed after averaging 18.5 minutes and 8.8 points at power forward. 


Key Returns: John Wall, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Bradley Beal. Everyone around the league knows that if this team is going to succeed it's because of these four players here. Bradley Beal made a leap last season, earning his first All-Star nod, but Wall digressed and Porter and Oubre didn't excel quite enough. There is still room for improvement everywhere as all of these players are still young. Otto Porter needs to shoot more after averaging an impressive 44 percent from beyond the arc last season. The team as a whole needs to play faster as Wall and Beal are both lethal on the break.

Key Additions: Dwight Howard, Austin Rivers, Jeff Green, Troy Brown Jr. These moves may have made a bigger splash a few years ago, but all of these players have a chance to contribute in a big way for Washington. Brown Jr. may not have been the sexy pick at 15 in this year's draft, but his addition to the team is necessary. It's been extremely clear that the Wizards need any sort of production outside their two All-Stars and Brown in an NBA-ready prospect who can do it on both ends of the court. Trading for Rivers is another testament to how this team needs offensive help after averaging a career-high 15.1 point s per game. His usage will be interesting as he'll be the second unit scorer this team desperately needs while also being featured in a three-guard small ball lineup with both Beal and Wall. Green's arrival helps the frontcourt defensive situation as Porter and Oubre won't have to guard out of position. Howard will replace Gortat at center, and hopefully more. 


X-Factor: Dwight Howard. The new big man deserves his own section as the floor and ceiling of this team rest on his shoulders. We all know what Dwight Howard could be. He's an eight-time All-Star, and three-time Defensive Player of the Year, led the NBA in rebounds five times and blocks twice. He's also a fire starter as his attitude has been detrimental to a team's success in the past. We know we aren't getting Orlando Dwight back, but he isn't far removed from the 2014 season where he averaged 18/12. If he can put up similar numbers with this team, they're going to become a real threat. Naturally, that's a Howard-sized "if", but he won't be expected to take the ball in the low post and create quite as much. He'll be fed early and often in the pick and roll by Wall, will be asked to dominate the boards and push the ball, and will be the rim protector Gortat wasn't. The Wizards are a team on the fringe of being bounced out of the postseason, but also could find themselves towards the top of the East once again if the Howard signing pays off. 

Betting Odds: The Wizards over/under on team win totals is 44.5 and their odds to win the NBA championship currently sit at +10000.


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