By Ron Leyba
The Washington Wizards made a big addition this summer. With their starting small forward Trevor Ariza an unrestricted free agent this summer, the Wizards chose to follow another direction and brought in the 36 – year old Paul Pierce. There is no question about Pierce’s quality and that he will help Washington move forward. But can Pierce really make the difference next season?
Paul Pierce is coming off the worst season of his career since he entered the league, back in 1998. Playing for the Brooklyn Nets, who entered the 2013 – 2014 campaign as one of the legitimate title contenders only to see their ambitions vanishing after the first few weeks, Pierce struggled badly. He was still able to put up solid numbers and help the Nets go as far as they could really go. However, he was nowhere near his start level of performance, the one he sustained back during his Boston Celtics days.
Unlike the Brooklyn Nets, who were rather disappointing last season, especially during the first half, the Washington Wizards made the difference. They exceeded the expectations and they even managed to make it to the second round of the postseason, where they got smashed by the Indiana Pacers.
Despite their elimination, the Wizards set the foundation for much better things to come. John Wall and Bradley Beal will now be a year older and more mature and with the duo of Marcin Gortat and Nene in the middle, the Wizards can hope for a brighter future.
Pierce’s presence in this Wizards team will be an essential one. If there was one major thing missing from the Wizards’ team last season, that was veteran experience. Washington does have much talent onboard but Wall is just 23 and Beal is 21. And although Trevor Ariza emerged as a solid contributor last season, Paul Pierce is definitely an upgrade at the starting small forward position.
Pierce will now be able to provide almost what Ariza did plus much more, some elements that his predecessor just didn’t have. Pierce can be the guy who will step up when the game is on the line. Despite his age, he is still one of those cold-blooded guys, one of the best clutch finishers in the league. He can be a voice of wisdom in the Wizards’ locker room and of course he can mentor his young teammates.
The Washington Wizards are looking to repeat their regular season success in 2014 – 2015 and they are even targeting to make a better playoff run. Paul Pierce will definitely assist them achieve that. Although he is 36 years old, Pierce still has some fuel left in his basketball tank. After all, he won’t be asked to take the full offensive load for Washington next season. The Wizards do have a greatly balanced team and this means Pierce will be able to focus to what he does best, shooting mainly from mid and long range, distributing the ball and helping his teammates play better.
Ron is the lead editor of www.FantasyBasketballMoneyLeagues.com. For more updates, you can follow @NBAFantasyInfo on Twitter or subscriber to Fantasy Basketball Money Leagues updates on Facebook.