The one-week countdown to the season opener has officially gone underway and the Washington Wizards find themselves in all but a state of contentment. Injury after injury has left Coach Randy Wittman and his staff shuffling and experimenting with different rotations in a desperate measure to find some sort of consistency while the hobbled players nurse their way back to full recovery.
While most of us have some sort of prediction for the opening tip-off line up at Quicken Loans Arena next week against the Cavs, Coach Wittman has yet to firmly identify any player for those roles. AJ Price or Shelvin Mack? Or perhaps Jannero Pargo? Jordan Crawford or Bradley Beal? Martell Webster or Trevor Ariza? Will Trevor Booker be healthy enough to squirm his way back into a starting role?
Based on preseason performance, if there is ANY solidified spot in the starting five, it would be one Emeka Okafor. And theoretically, if there is ANY solidified spot on the bench, it would be Jan Vesley, who continues to suffer from the recurring setback of failing to apply himself as more than just a good french-kisser. Yeah, I had to bring that back.
Keeping in mind that injury setbacks are a part of basketball life, Wittman has remained poised while enduring his preseason pains. However, the idea of having to make roster cuts over the next few days does him no further justice. The bubble players for the final roster, courtesy of Truthaboutit.net, are: Jannero Pargo, Earl Barron, Cartier Martin, Brian Cook and Shelvin Mack.
While the injuries have created an aura of uncertainty, it has also triggered opportunities. An interesting observation throughout the season will be the performances of Emeka Okafor and AJ Price. Both players come into the season with a chip on their shoulder, looking for redemption and working to reestablish their value as productive assets in the NBA.
Price, a former UConn standout and sufferer of lifelong turmoil, as narrated by the Washington Post, has found himself in position to compete again for a starting role, and seems to be winning over his counterparts, Mack and Pargo.
Okafor, a former number two overall pick for the Charlotte Bobcats, looks to overcome years of repetitive losing and also break out of a recent decline in his yearly numbers. So far, with the absence of Nene and Kevin Seraphin, Okafor has taken advantage of the opportunity and it has seemingly paid off.
Wittman has two more nights of mix and matching before having to finally settle for a line up. His Wizards face the Miami Heat on Wednesday in Kansas City before flying down to San Antonio to wrap up the preseason against the Spurs.