January 18, 2012; Washington, DC, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant (35) dribbles the ball against Washington Wizards power forward Trevor Booker (35) in the fourth quarter at Verizon Center. The Wizards won 105-102. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE

Oklahoma City Thunder 2012-13 Preview: Washington Wizards


Thunderous Intentions will begin to preview the 2012-13 NBA season by going through every team in the league and breaking down how they match up with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Be sure to check out the previous matchups we have previewed: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Bobcats, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Hornets, New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors, Utah Jazz.

Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE

Washington Wizards Team Overview

The Wizards won their last six games of the season last year to finish with a 20-46 record, second worst in the league behind only Charlotte.

In his second season in the league, the 2010 No. 1 overall pick stayed about the same as he was in his rookie campaign. John Wall averaged just over 16 points per game and eight assists. He was also one of the worst 3-point shooters in the league all season going 3-for-42 on the year.

In March, the Wizards traded away JaVale Mcgee to Denver in exchange for Nene. McGee had the reputation of being a headcase while Nene is being paid a lot but still much more proven than McGee.

This offseason the Wizards made some more moves. They traded for Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza and drafted Bradley Beal with the third pick in the NBA Draft. All of a sudden, a lot of people feel like this Wizards team has the potential to make a real jump next season.

Beal is the perfect compliment beside Wall in the backcourt. Beal can really shoot it from deep and is a solid playmaker in the pick-and-roll as well. It may be just what Wall has needed to really breakout and have a big year.

The Eastern Conference is not very strong and the last few playoff spots are there for the taking. The Wizards look like a team with a decent chance to make a push for one of those spots.

Last year

The Oklahoma City Thunder played the Wizards once last season on Jan. 18 in Washington. Washington shocked the Thunder beating them 105-102 to improve to 2-12 on the year while the Thunder dropped to 12-3.

Kevin Durant is from D.C. and in his return home scored 33 points but went just 2-for-10 from three. Russell Westbrook scored 36 points to go with seven assists for the Thunder. James Harden had 13 off the bench.

Wall led Washington with 25 points, eight assists and seven rebounds in 45 minutes. He made 13-of-14 free throws in the game.

Nick Young also played a big role for the Wizards scoring 24 points and making 5-of-10 threes.

The Wizards shot just 38.4 percent from the field but attempted 43 free throws. They also grabbed 19 offensive rebounds while the Thunder committed 21 turnovers on the other end.

The matchup

The Wizards had the 27th best offense in the NBA last season in terms of points per possession. They were weak all-around but noticeably at their best when they were running and pushing the tempo.

Washington was 9th in the league on transition plays and 16.8 percent of their offense came in transition. They were just 28th on spot-up plays and the pick-and-roll though.

Washington’s defense wasn’t much better ranking 22nd in the league overall. They were 5th best vs. pick-and-roll plays and 12th best vs. isolation plays which is partly why they matched up okay vs. the Thunder.

Next year

The Wizards team that beat the Thunder last year will now look a little different this coming season. If all goes well, Washington is a team that has a chance to come close to making the playoffs which would be a pretty big jump from their horrible record this past season.

The Thunder play the Wizards twice next season first in Washington on Jan. 7 then in OKC on March 27.

The matchup of Wall vs. Westbrook is a very intriguing one between two of the most athletic point guards in the league. It is probably one that maybe doesn’t favor Wall but Westbrook is one of the elite point guards he’d prefer to play against.

The addition of Ariza gives Washington someone to match up with Durant as well. Beal vs. Harden will also be interesting and the Wizards also have some decent size in Okafor and Nene to combat the Thunder bigs.

Washington has some good talent and when they play to their potential, can play right with a team like OKC. But overall, no one will ever anticipate the Wizards knocking off the Thunder.

Tags: Oklahoma City Thunder Washington Wizards