I'm calling it right now. The Wizards will improve by 30 games or more next year. They have won 19 games so far this year and that would give them 49 or more wins next year.
In some ways they remind me of the Celtics team from a couple years ago. The best player has been hurt all year and younger players have been thrown to the wolves all year. The similarities end there because we didn't fire our coach and they won't likely be trading for someone of KG's stature. Still, they've got a lot (potentially) going for them next year.
For one thing, Gilbert Arenas will be back. For all his quirks and foibles and lack of defensive effort, he's an amazing offensive player. Put him next to Butler and Jamison and you have a formidable 1-2-3 punch.
For another thing, some of those younger players are going to benefit from a year like this one. The best of the bunch will only improve from it. The ones that couldn't make the most of the opportunity will fade to the background. Nick Young and Andre Blatche proved they can score and JaVale McGee has shown a lot of promise at center (next year he'll back up the much improved Brendan Haywood).
Flip Saunders and the Washington Wizards are a match made in Gilbert's own Gilberty heaven. There are performing circus animals everywhere, fireworks, unicorns, elaborate masked balls, and the whole thing is probably scored by Animal Collective. But somewhere in that world, there’s an incredible offensive coach whose style has been ridiculed, leadership has been questioned, and successes attributed to others. He's a kindred spirit with a perfect fit for not only Gilbert's style, but the team's style. So light the fuse, pick out your feathery masque, and cue Sung Tongs — things just might get magical in Washington.
Or put into common English, the guy knows offense and the Wizards have the tools to have a great offense. Bottom line, these guys are going to score points in bunches next year.
But what of the defense? Ahh, there's the rub. Some of the defensive criticisms of Saunders are overblown. His teams have played good defense at times. That said, if Flip had trouble maintaining the defensive focus of the Detroit Pistons, how could he possibly convince the Wizards to make a defensive stop?
So perhaps the theory here is to ditch defense and focus on the team's strengths. They are locked into their version of the big three for big money. Unless they can pull off a blockbuster trade (not likely considering teams are looking to shed salary, not take it on) then we're looking at the Wizards of the forseeable future. Instead of berating these guys about something they can't do well, the team will applaud them for doing something they do well. Makes a great deal of sense.
The only thing is this: It probably will be enough to get them into the 2nd round of the playoffs (depending on matchups) but ultimately they'll never win a title with this system.
With that said, it should at least be fun to watch from an outsiders perspective. Add this club to the D'Antoni led Knicks and the East is starting to look a little like the West from a few years ago.
For more on the Wizards, check out Bullets Forever.