By SportsDirect Inc. - After making headlines late in the preseason with the acquisition of veteran center Marcin Gortat, the Washington Wizards open the 2013-14 season with a trip to Detroit to take on the Pistons. The Wizards sent Emeka Okafor and a protected first round pick to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Gortat, who they hope will form one of the Eastern Conference's top post duos alongside Nene. Washington's success this year rides largely on the effectiveness of point guard John Wall, who missed 33 games last season with a knee injury but averaged 20.7 points, 4.5 rebounds and 7.8 assists after the All-Star break.
The Pistons underwent an overhaul in the offseason, replacing head coach Lawrence Frank with Maurice Cheeks, signing forward Josh Smith and acquiring Brandon Jennings in a swap of point guards with Milwaukee that saw Brandon Knight join the Bucks. With Jennings (jaw) out and Rodney Stuckey (thumb) unlikely to play in the opener, Detroit will look to Will Bynum, rookies Peyton Siva and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and a returning Chauncey Billups to man the backcourt for the time being. "You have to be hungry and you have to be ready when the opportunity presents itself," Bynum told the Detroit Free Press.
Game time: 7:30 p.m.
ABOUT THE WIZARDS (2012-13: 29-53): The arrival of Gortat should help Washington at both ends of the floor, with the seven-year veteran averaging 13.3 points and 9.3 rebounds the last three seasons for Phoenix. Wall, the top choice in the 2010 NBA Draft, averaged a career high 18.5 points in 49 games last year but has struggled to take care of the ball early in his career, turning the ball over a league-high 255 times in 2011-12 and averaging 3.2 turnovers last season. Forward Otto Porter, drafted third overall by the Wizards this summer, missed the entire preseason with a hip flexor strain and is not expected to be available to start the season.
ABOUT THE PISTONS (2012-13: 29-53): Smith averaged 17.5 points for the Hawks last season and gives Detroit a pair of formidable inside scoring threats, alongside Greg Monroe. Second-year center Andre Drummond will look to build on an impressive rookie season after finishing strong with double-digit point totals in three of Detroit's final four games, including a career-high 29-point effort in a road win over Cleveland. Caldwell-Pope, the eighth overall selection in the 2013 NBA Draft, struggled with his shooting in the preseason, connecting on just 32.5 percent but should work into Detroit's early season backcourt rotation in the absence of Jennings and Stuckey.
1. Detroit has won six straight against Washington, including all four matchups last season.
2. Stuckey, who broke his right thumb when he slammed it in a car door several weeks ago, was cleared to participate in limited practice activities but is not expected to play Wednesday.
3. The Wizards averaged 93.2 points in 2012-13, tying Chicago and Philadelphia for last in the NBA.
PREDICTION: Wizards 97, Pistons 91
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