Coming into this huge season for the Washington Wizards, two underlying issues were on the agenda. One, would they overplay their hand on the pursuit of Kevin Durant and will this team full of square pegs for round holes keep itself competitive in an improving Eastern Conference.
Lets answer the first question, the overplay. Yes, the Wizards have stacked up all their chips in a grand attempt to woo DC native Kevin Durant to sign as a free agent this summer. Do I believe it was the wrong strategy? I honestly don’t think so. Currently as roster is constructed, there is the need for one more superstar to take the team to the next level, why not put everything on the table for this special talent, even if its a pipedream. As we have seen for decades in the NBA, superstars win titles. Thats just a fact. The more talent you have on the roster, the better chance you truly have for winning major hardware in June. Now, I don’t believe that we will sign him because I think he will resign in Oklahoma City but its better to try (or atleast be in contention to try) than to not have a shot at all.
Secondly, for all of the funky positions that players on the roster have had to play this season either because of the injury factor (most missed games by injury in the league) or by roster construction, the new “Pace and Space” offensive system hasn’t worked the way we all envisioned it to. Not having a true stretch big really hurts what the offense is supposed to accomplish. Jared Dudley has done a yeoman’s job trying to be that guy, but at this point of his career, he shouldn’t be the main guy opposing defenses have to acknowledge on that end of the floor. Guys like Otto Porter and Kris Humphries have tried to stretch the floor but as of today are not able to do that on a consistent basis.
As I stated earlier, the injury bug ravaged this team in the first half. Brad Beal started off the season on fire averaging over 20 points per game and becoming that guy we all wanted him to be, but again a stress fracture in his leg caused him to miss 20 games and is now on a minutes restrictions. If that wasn’t enough, Nene missed 19 games himself. Add off season pickup Alan Anderson to the injury heap as he has not seen the floor this season. Multiple games missed by Drew Gooden, Humphries, Porter, and Gary Neal has given coach Randy Wittman very little to work with at any given moment.
It has taken a yeoman’s effort from our resident All-Star John Wall for this team to hover around the .500 mark at this point in the season. During the first month of the season, Wall was, for lack of a better term, lackluster. After some self reflecting, he came out in December and played the best basketball of his life and earned December Player of the Month in the Eastern Conference, the first for the Wizards franchise since 2006. Wall also won Player of the Week for the week of January 17th as well. Without his stellar play, this team would be competing wit the likes of the Lakers and Sixers for the #1 overall selection in the next draft.
All in all, this team, when healthy, can make a run for the playoffs. Four games out of the divisional lead isn’t an insurmountable lead but something needs to change. Whether its using one of the pieces on the roster for an upgrade or what. The inconsistency is killing the fan base. There is starting to be an apathetic feel for the team and that shouldn’t be the case because the team is still growing. But lethargic losses to the likes of the Lakers, Blazers etc are causing this team to become an afterthought in its own city.