As has been the case for quite some time now, the Washington Wizards have long been considered the league clowns of the NBA. There’s really no need for clarification as the factors for the team’s prolonged suckassness has been on full display and well documented: slow starts, slow finishes, offensive ineptitude, defensive struggles, lack of talent, poor coaching, managerial mishaps, injuries, Jan Vesely.
It’s fairly evident that the Wizards have been the cause of more than a few unfavorable headlines this season, covering almost every negative facet of the game. It’s a tolling, testing and trying experience for every Wizards fan and to be quite frank on behalf of all of us: it BLOWS.
But let’s actually fast forward past all the regurgitated rhetoric about how bad the team sucks, or, has sucked until this past week.
Let’s actually talk about this past week.
The Wizards didn’t fully shape into the team they initially constructed until after the OKC game two Mondays ago, but it’s probably fair to say the dramatic ending of that particular game, courtesy of the league’s top teenager, is what set the tone for where the Wizards stand now: a team on a mean 3-game win streak, set to take on a five-game west coast trip with the most confidence and swag they’ve attained in the Wittman era. It was the perfect segway for John Wall’s Welcome Back Party against Atlanta the following game, and that same momentum helped these reformed Wizards truck over the Orlando Magic on Monday night.
Heh, the Orlando Magic. Someone generate a Facebook meme along with a fat-ass LOL as the caption for the way they got dismantled on the Verizon Center floor that night. But I can’t be too harsh on them considering their second unit looks about as good as that fearsome pick-up squad you face at the Y on a Wednesday night. You know, Josh McRoberts, the bearded white family man who happens to ball; that decent former college player in E'Twan Moore; some dude named Ish.
And so after the Wizards made the Magic seem more competent as Disney World staff members rather than professional basketball players, they now seem light years from where they started in November. Watching the game on replay late last night, I could’ve predicted during pregame warm-ups that it would be in the books early, just based on the demeanor and approach of the players amongst one another. They were energized and hyped, genuinely high-fiving one another and exchanging words of motivation. Not to mention smiling and enjoying their jobs for once. Overall, it was simply apparent that they had realized they were finally molding together as the squad we were so optimistic about in the offseason.
And it all starts and ends with John Wall. Players in the locker room admit there is a sense of refreshment on and off the court with a healthy Wall part of the mix. Fans are pleasantly overwhelmed by the sudden change of pace and the surge the Wizards have displayed all this past week, courtesy of their beloved leader.
Now, suddenly, the Wizards are actually watchable. Damn all that, they’re actually entertaining!! I mean, as basketball fans, what more can we enjoy than seeing a player zip up and down the court along with his teammates, keeping the defense on their heels and creating easy buckets (John Wall). Or a player that can maneuver around the defense and create a beautifully executed jump shot (Brad Beal). Or how about a front court that can be oh so dominant when they create good spacing and provide strong aggression at the rim, both on offense and on defense (Nene, Okafor, Seraphin). Go ahead and throw in some energy and hustle with Martell Webster and a greatly improved AJ Price. Jan Vesely being more productive than raising a guilty arm after committing a foul? I’ll take some of that too.
Point is, the Wizards are clicking on every cylinder and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Well, technically it could have. I’m sure all of us wish they clicked 32 games ago, but as the Wizards prepare for an unrelenting five-game road trip, they do it with the utmost momentum and confidence. They no longer feel like just a void in the opposing team’s schedule. They’ve finally tasted relevance and, hence, finally feel like they belong.