If you were to look at the 2016-‘17 Washington Wizards season so far, it has been nothing but a disappointment. Yet, as crazy as it seems, the team is improving. It hasn’t been pretty, but in winning five of their last seven games, the Wizards are only two-and-a-half games out of first place in the Southeast Division.
Surely this team shouldn’t be thinking about a division crown at all, considering the talent level on the current roster.
Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3) reacts with Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Charlotte Hornets, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016, in Washington. The Wizards won 109-106. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Fans and pundits have waited for the time when John Wall and Bradley Beal would play at an elite level together and in-sync. It looks like that moment has arrived. Wall has been his usual outstanding self, averaging 24 points and nine assists per game, and Beal has been lights out since returning from a groin injury, putting up 22 points per game while showing the consistency we’ve all clamored for.
The big issue going forward is this: Should the team go all in for an inevitable futile playoff run or should fans “want” the team to reverse course and continue to lose as they did during the month of November, when they were one of the worst teams in the NBA? With the starters (Otto Porter, Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat) pulling almost all of the weight for a roster that includes bench players who have been the worst in the league by a nice margin, this team needs a talent infusion. And the only way to easily acquire talent is through the draft.
Currently, with a little more than a third of the season completed, this is a lottery team. But, as has been proven for years, General Manager Ernie Grunfeld isn’t savvy enough to find any real talent through the draft unless it’s dropped in his lap as Beal and Wall were in their respective draft years. Lately, there have been some positive signs from second-year forward Kelly Oubre, but he is still a very flawed player. Let’s not even discuss previous draft classes that have left this team bereft of any sort of firepower in its overall depth.
When the season started off so badly, many fans – including I – were hoping for a total team implosion that would inevitably cost Grunfeld his job so the team could start over. The starters are too good for that to happen, unfortunately, so Washington is probably going to be stuck with Grunfeld and whatever moves he will make by the trade deadline.
I am almost 100 percent sure he will trade some asset, most likely Gortat, for some middle-of-the-road veteran that will give Washington nothing in the grander scheme and ultimately put the team right back in this situation next season.
The fanatic in me LOVES the fight in the team, but the realistic observer knows that the Wizards will not flourish until Grunfeld is gone, and that will only happen unless there is a total implosion.