It was a little over a month ago that the AFRO Sports Desk debated whether or not the Washington Wizards could win the NBA title this season after a promising 4-0 start to their early-March western road trip hinted that the franchise might have finally turned over a new leaf. The team appeared focused and over the routinely frustrating bouts of inconsistency and regrettable losses. Perhaps the AFRO Sports Desk jumped too soon because Washington has gone just 7-8 since that promising start last month. Frustrating bouts of inconsistency and regrettable losses have returned for the team, and even with a chance to win 50 regular season games with two games left so far for the Wizards (48-32), the momentum is definitely not in Washington’s favor like it was just over 30 days ago. Are the Washington Wizards still contenders? Perry Green and Stephen Riley, of the AFRO Sports Desk, debate is question.
Washington Wizards Bradley Beal (3) and John Wall (2) wait for play to resume during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat in Washington, Saturday, April 8, 2017. Miami won 106-103. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Riley: Washington peaked with 75 percent of the season done and now they’re rounding back into what they are: a talented team that’s just on the outside looking in at the real contenders across the league. They’re not winning a seven-game series against the top two teams (Golden State and San Antonio) in the West and they’re not winning a playoff series against the top two teams in the East (Cleveland and Boston). They struggle against teams with active big men. And, the team’s two stars in Bradley Beal and John Wall are all-star caliber players but they’re not superstars. They’re still a couple of players away from serious contention.
Green: Washington’s play has been uneven as of late but so has every team in the league not named the Warriors. Cleveland has been dramatically up and down, and while Boston has won some important games, they were demolished by Cleveland on the road just last week. The playoffs start a whole new season and the Wizards have cranked up the intensity the last two times they visited the extra season. That intensity along with some new acquisitions on the roster will definitely make Washington a tough out.
Riley: The top three teams in the NBA have superstar talent embedded on the roster and you’re not going to beat superstars with all-stars. The team still has too many moments for my liking where they appear to coast mentally throughout the game and commit silly turnovers or bad fouls. Championship-caliber teams simply don’t make the same type of careless mistakes that the Wizards make. And, without a LeBron James or a Steph Curry on the roster, Washington just has too many internal flaws to overcome that will disqualify them from winning a title this season.
Green: The 2004 Detroit Pistons were perhaps the poster boys of being able to win titles without hosting a megastar on the roster. They did it with teamwork and that’s how I envision this Wizards roster surviving. Washington has a slew of extremely talented players so even though there’s no headliner, there is a combination of players who can each have big games and carry the team on certain nights. Anything is possible within the NBA and I won’t write Washington completely off simply because they had a tumultuous April. I still think they can shock the world and knock off Cleveland. Stay tuned…