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News » Washington Wizards Getting Inside 2009-10-18

Washington Wizards Getting Inside 2009-10-18

Washington Wizards Getting Inside 2009-10-18This time last year, the Washington Wizards were ready to begin the season with playoff expectations pretty much a given. But before the tip-off of the 2008-09 season, the Wizards suffered huge setbacks -- losing starters Gilbert Arenas and Brendan Haywood for the majority of the season.

That resulted in a 19-win season that nobody in the organization thinks will be repeated. Arenas has looked healthy in the preseason for the first time in two years, and the Wizards seriously believe that they have a good chance of earning home-court advantage.

If they stay healthy this season, the Wizards have arguably the deepest roster they have had in years. The core of Arenas, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison returns intact, and the team expects Haywood, who missed all but six games last year following wrist surgery, to bounce back in a contract year and be productive.

The Wizards jettisoned unproductive players Etan Thomas, Darius Songaila and Oleksiy Pecherov in a trade to Minnesota. In their places, the Wizards feel they have made themselves stronger with the additions of Mike Miller, Randy Foye -- both from Minnesota -- and signing center Fabricio Oberto.

"We feel that the strength of our team is going to come from more than just our big three," President Ernie Grunfeld said. "Those guys have done great things for us. But we feel that we've added to our roster in a lot of places. We can go nine deep."

Charged with getting the most out of the Wizards is new coach Flip Saunders. While they have been criticized for being a poor defensive team under former coach Eddie Jordan, Saunders was brought in explicitly to bring out the most of the Wizards as an offensive team, a move that probably makes sense since the Wizards have offensive players.

Guard DeShawn Stevenson is expected to make a full recovery from back surgery. A starter most of his career, he's no lock to be in the first five this season. If he isn't, he'll be part of a group of reserves that includes JaVale McGee, Nick Young, Andray Blatche and Dominic McGuire that should bring a lot of energy.

COACHING STAFF: Head Coach -- Flip Saunders, 14th year overall, 1st with Wizards (587-396). Assistants -- Randy Wittman, Wes Unseld, Jr., Sam Cassell, Don Zierden.

LAST SEASON, REMEMBERED: 19-63 (4th in Atlantic).

THIS SEASON, PREDICTED: 51-31 (2nd in Atlantic), should reach the second round.

POSSIBLE CHANGES, PREDICTED: Foye will probably start alongside Arenas in the backcourt sooner rather than later. Before he went down with back problems, the Wizards were regretting having extended Stevenson's contract.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: October 18, 2009


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