At the beginning of the season, I was less than thrilled that the Washington Wizards brought back veteran Mo Evans due to his lack of productivity on the court last season with the Wizards. As I write this at the end of the season, I am begging for them to resign him next year.
It’s funny how things change over the span of a few months. Every single player who I thought would never have an impact on this team managed to prove me wrong in the course of one large-margined win against the NBA Championship-favored Miami Heat.
In their season closer, five players for the Wizards scored in double figures in the 104-70 blowout at the Verizon Center: Jan Vesely (11 points), Kevin Seraphin (15 points), Cartier Martin (12 points), Nene (15 points), and Mo Evans (18 points).
Are you kidding me?
Four of these guys I thought would be little more than an afterthought this season, with Cartier Martin being someone who I could’ve never seen being resigned. The fifth, Nene, I couldn’t call having on the roster in my wildest of dreams.
But that’s the thing about this Wizards 2011-2012 season. Too many fans expected too much. But some fans were really calling for the Wizards to play these younger guys. With the injuries and trades and coaching changes, this minority’s wish came true.
The starting lineup in last night’s game only had one player (John Wall) who was in the starting lineup at the season-opener. This is a good thing, everybody. Everyone knows that Trevor Booker, Jordan Crawford, Nene, John Wall are going to give you something; but what this starting lineup really shows is that the Wizards have the potential to have very solid bench play.
Ending the season on a six-game win streak really didn’t mean much to me due to the opponents we faced, but it gave me optimism for something different. In hindsight, this season was about the rebuild. The organization clouded my expectations at the beginning of the season by telling the fans that this could be a team to surprise everyone. But really, what else are they going to say?
One thing is for sure, though, the Wizards (and hear me out here), have a better bench than the Miami Heat. If this team can surround itself with a few more veterans, like Mo Evans who has surprised everyone, and another big-name producer, this team could contend for the East within the next few years.
The Wizards bench beat the Heat bench last night. There’s no other way around it. That’s something I never thought I’d be able to say at the end of the season, too. With the latest news that Ernie Grunfeld’s contract is extended, is it possible to say that he really has a plan to surprise us all?
With the Washington Wizards, anything is possible; be it good or bad. But as they close the book on the 2011-2012 season, they can’t call it a waste. They got 20 wins after a coaching change, a blockbuster trade, four players with 10-day contracts and never ending injuries. Not too shabby in hindsight.
But the organization stayed played through it and ultimately learned a lot about what they have on their hands.
And that is something to be proud of if you’re a fan.