The Washington Wizards have gone 10-7 over their last 17 games, paving the way to respectability. With John Wall healthy and running the team, and the trio of Martell Webster, Bradley Beal and Trevor Ariza sinking three-pointers alongside solid inside play, Washington isn’t the pushover they’ve been over the past few seasons.
The team has turned into a force, dropping five of the NBA’s division leaders. But at 14-35, the team is too far behind to expect a playoff run this season. However, a solid draft pick and a summer of getting healthy could go a long way in determining what Washington does next season. Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley of the AFRO Sports Desk examine the possibilities.
Riley: I love the way this current team is constructed. With just enough youth and a splash of veterans, the Wizards have a good mix to make a strong run next season. Whatever draft pick they add will just be another feather in their cap, but I do expect Washington to be in the playoffs next year. A John Wall jump shot could be all the difference this team needs.
Green:I don’t know, Riley. It seems like every season we see a late run by Washington to fuel hope for next year, but I can’t take this team seriously—not until they get a head coach or a general manager NBA followers can identify. The Wall jump shot is still flawed, and three years into the league his shot should be more than what it is. There’s talent spread throughout the team but something is missing with this squad, and I think it’s the upper management. Having no coach and no general manager has spelled doom for this franchise, a trend that will continue until the problem is resolved.
Riley: Coach Randy Wittman has earned the respect of this unit but general manager Ernie Grunfield leaves something to be desired, I admit. But Grunfield has done a good job fielding this team as it is, so you have to respect that. Washington literally is a piece away from being one of the most promising teams in the league. Beal and Wall are a promising backcourt and their small forward rotation is extremely efficient. Nene and Emeka Okafor are extremely tough inside. If you add that potential draft pick, you’re talking about an impressive team.
Green: Even if they made the playoffs next year how far are they going? Washingtonians have already tasted the postseason—and they’ve gone home early every year thanks to LeBron James. Considering that the top teams in the Eastern Conference are stacked with James, Carmelo Anthony and the up-and-coming Paul George, how much can we really expect out of Washington next season? I would love to see the Wizards make the playoffs but I also want to see them contend, not just make another early exit.
Riley: When you look at the teams in the conference, many of those teams are on the decline. Miami probably has another two strong seasons left in them and the Knicks are one of the oldest teams in the league. Washington is set up nicely for the future, so even just a taste of the postseason experience will go a long way towards the future of the franchise.
Green: We’ll see, Riley. Maybe I’m just accustomed to the curse of Washington basketball teams. I can’t expect anything consistent out of the Wizards except for injuries and underperformance. Will they make the playoffs next year? Maybe. But even if they do, let’s not act like Nene and Okafor are spring chickens—both players are primary reasons why we’re even discussing this team. They need to win now or next year, but I think the Wizards are nowhere close to winning in the immediate future.