Otto Porter Jr. and Glen Rice Jr. certainly have the bloodlines for the National Basketball Association (NBA) hardwood. After a pair of uninspiring rookie campaigns, the duo has their sights set on their sophomore years and their renewe
d focus has them tearing up the competition in the NBA Summer League. Behind Rice’s averages of 25 points and close to seven rebounds per night and Porter’s near 18 points and six rebounds, the hot shooting Wizards took turns attacking defenses as their summer league squad went 5-0 and showing why they could only help add to a Wizards team that has been busy with player acquisitions over the past week.
Washington acquired forwards Paul Pierce, Kris Humphries and DeJuan Blair over the course of a busy three-day period, while retaining free agent bigs Drew Gooden and Kevin Seraphin and combo guard Garrett Temple. The moves up front give Washington depth and security for the oft-injured Nene while adding some experience to the small forward position with Pierce while Porter and Rice adjust to some unavoidable playing time next season. Despite a 44-38 record last season, many games were lost early in the 2013-14 campaign due to inefficient bench play. Reinforcing the depth could potentially push the Wizards to 50-plus wins next year. Rumors also resurfaced throughout the week that Washington is preparing for a run at Kevin Durant in the summer of 2016, rumors that were helped with Pierce’s two-year deal and the decision to not match Trevor Ariza’s contract offer. The swing forward signed a four year, $32 million offer with the Houston Rockets that the Wizards passed on.
Ariza was a key player all season for Washington but, as anticipated, the Wizards are plotting strategically for a chance at Durant. But in the meantime, the club has made more than enough moves with the idea of making the playoffs a permanent fixture in D.C. Blair and Humphries should help Washington control the glass next year while Pierce showed several times last season that he still has some gas left in the tank. With major moves in Cleveland, Chicago Charlotte and Miami, the Wizards needed to make a few headlines to stay relevant next year in the Eastern Conference. LeBron James’ return home to Cleveland resulted in a shift in the balance of power in the Eastern Conference. Several teams see a wide open opportunity in what will most definitely be a conference up for grabs.
The pulse of the team still beats through the backcourt of Bradley Beal and John Wall but Washington may exit the summer with one of the toughest front courts in the East with the quartet of Nene, Humphries, Blair and newly re-signed Marcin Gortat. Pierce, Porter and Rice should be able to secure the small forward position as the team awaits the return of Martell Webster. Washington may or may not win the conference next year but as long as the team stays healthy with this roster their post-season aspirations should bear fruit again.