's Preseason NBA Power Rankings: 14. Washington Wizards

Caron Butler on the Wizards, Gilbert Arenas and the Locker Room Gun Incident
Caron Butler on the Wizards, Gilbert Arenas and the Locker Room Gun Incident

With NBA preseason underway, the real thing isn't that far off. In the meantime between now and Oct. 27, AOL Sports has been unveiling our team previews and power rankings, one quad at a time.

Previously, we detailed our expectations for the Utah Jazz, who have the potential to be a surprise contender in the Western Conference playoff picture. Up next is a team with moderate expectations, but one that may have a hard time taking the next step.

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Atlanta Hawks v Washington Wizards-Game Six
Atlanta Hawks v Washington Wizards-Game Six

With a splendid mix of youthful promise and matured talent, the Washington Wizards should be one of the more exciting teams in the league. That they aren't speaks to how the team is being held back, and the holding pattern that seems to be in place.

The restraint stems from head coach Randy Wittman, and the extent to which he's limited the Wizards from taking the proverbial "next step." Despite the transcendent talent Washington has in John Wall, the promise Bradley Beal has shown and the versatility of their bigs, the team can't seem to get that talent to translate to meaningful postseason success.

A loose comparison for a team hanging in the balance like this is the Golden State Warriors of two seasons ago -- clearly with enough talent to compete at a high level, but, under Mark Jackson, not playing in a manner that was conducive to the greatest team success possible. This was a combination of failing to play to certain players' strengths, ignoring modern NBA trends and other failures.

In 2014-15, the team ranked top-10 in three-point percentage, yet shot them at the fourth-lowest rate in the NBA. In the second halves of games, they were outscored by 2.1 points on average -- ranked 21st in the league -- which is partially a result of a team's (read: coach's) lack of adjustments and poise.

If the tactical weakness isn't enough to support the case against Wittman, the team's sporadic lack of motivation should be. If the Warriors' 2014-15 season showed us anything, it was that replacing a head coach that just doesn't fit -- even despite relative success on the scoreboard -- can go a long way.

In terms of roster construction, Washington is built well. John Wall averaged 17.6 and 10 last season, and with another year of NBA experience under his belt, him soon joining the tier of Stephen Curry, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook is plausible. Bradley Beal is one of the best long-range shooters his age and has increased his field-goal percentage each each since joining the league. Jared Dudley's range will also help the offense, while Nene and Marcin Gortat offer unique skill sets in their large frames.

Garrett Temple, Ramon Sessions, Alan Anderson and Gary Neal comprise a healthy reserve group in the backcourt, while Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Kris Humphries, DeJuan Blair and Drew Gooden should all be serviceable in their roles. It's a roster full of NBA-rotation-level talent.

But as promising as the roster looks, it's largely the same one that saw a first-round exit last season. And unless there's an unexpected shift in ideology at the top, these Wizards won't be ready to compete with the heavyweights in the East.

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