are (still) a team you don't want to play in the Playoffs.
No comparisons. No Analogies (okay, maybe I still will make some of these). No apologies, because I am still mourning the fact that my dream of a Clippers-Wizards Finals will probably not happen. I really wanted the under appreciated red, white, and blue finals with two teams with a horrendous history. (Still) I am still rooting for this, and since they will both be in the Playoffs, there's still a chance, similar to the chance that I will win the Powerball.
(Still) This is a team you don't want to play in the Playoffs. Early and in the middle of the season, I wanted to compare the Wizards to late 1990s US Open Champion Patrick Rafter, the ultimate flawed yet perfect tennis player who could beat anyone on any given day and had enough talent to beat the legends like Sampras and Agassi to win the big prizes. Now, the Wizards are like that "dangerous" player ranked 20 to 40, who could pull a couple of upsets, but would get soundly beaten by the elite players after a few rounds.
There are still many reasons why I am crazy enough to still talk myself into believing in the Wizards. John Wall's athleticism and creativity can turn a game around even if the Wizards' offense is sputtering. I still have faith in Bradley Beal's shooting. Marcin Gortat and Nene are two big dudes who have some skills and are surprisingly complementary. Please tell Randy Wittman that the spacing is still spotty even without the two starting bigs on the court at the same time that you might as well play them together anyway. The Wizards also match up quite well with many of the East's top teams. With Kris Humphries and Kevin Seraphin, in addition to Gortat and Nene, the Wizards have enough decent front court size to match the Bulls and overpower the Raptors. The Wizards could probably muck up the game enough against the Hawks to win an ugly Playoffs series. Early in the year, with the Cavs floundering, I thought the Wizards could make the Finals. But now, with the addition of average but needed role players and Kyrie Irving taking his offense to another stratosphere, there's no way the Wizards are beating the Cavs, who still have the best player in the NBA.
I am not quite ready to see LeBron win another ring, and every time Derrick Rose gets injured, I am rooting for the Bulls to tank the season so they can get a high draft pick -- you know, pull a Popovich-Duncan maneuver. So, the Wizards are my second favorite team, and against all reasoning, analytics, and statistics -- I still want to believe that they will make a long run in the Playoffs even with the recently depressing swoon. What can I say, I am a Clippers fan, I'm not totally rationale.
Random Access Memory (RAM)
My first two live in person NBA games were at the Verizon Center. I discussed the first game I attended, Wizards vs. Bob Sura led Cavs earlier. The second game I attended was the Wizards vs. the Lakers in 2000. Mitch Richmond had a throwback game and a young Kobe disappeared (though my friends ran into him later in the night as Kobe was wandering the Georgetown neighborhood by himself). Along with some die hard Wizards fans, I booed the hell out the Lakers, especially Rick Fox and Derek Fisher. I remembered this late 40s/early 50s African-American Wizards fan in my section saying, "They can go the hell back to L.A." Good times, as we silence the groupies and Lakers bandwagon. I would move to L.A. a year or so later in time for the Lakers' second championship in the 2000s. Some people say there's a woman to blame, but I know, it's my own damn fault.
Random Factoid: The Wizards and Chick-fil-A have the best promotion ever. Every fan in attendance receives a free Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich if an opposing player misses both free throws in the fourth quarter.
Wizards' Watchability Essay
Even with their archaic offense, which yields a lot of mid-range jumpers, the Wizards are still an entertaining watch. You could just focus on John Wall, who is one of the league's best playmakers and actually plays both ends. He might be the best defensive point guard in the league. Enjoy Paul Pierce for the next few seasons, as his old man herky jerky game will soon be extinct. I love watching Nene when he is injury free and fully engaged as I never know what he is going to do next, maybe it is a quick move for a dunk, making the pass to set up the assist, or choking the hell out of someone or pull a jiujitsu move (right? Jimmy Butler). I like watching Gortat's rimrolls and Bradley Beal shoot any shot. Sure, the Wizards can be better offensively, but hell, they still are an entertaining team full of characters and guys who play with an edge on both ends.
Paul Tee's Prognosis
First the Wizards need to make that Doug Collins to Phil Jackson or Mark Jackson to Steve Kerr coaching upgrade and get a coach who can improve the team's offense. I have always liked Randy Wittman since he was making over 50 percent of his jumpshots as an Atlanta Hawk, but he probably has to go for this team to take that next step, even though his players love him. Once their offense improves, I think the Wizards will be one of the top 3 teams in the Eastern Conference along with Cleveland and Atlanta. If Kevin Durant signs with the Wizards in 2016, this is the team that will battle with LeBron and Kyrie for the next 5 to 10 years. Imagine Durant playing with a point guard who passes and sets up his teammates for open three along with another elite shooter/scorer in Beal and a competent big men rotation. Without KD, but with a good offensive coordinator, the Wizards are Conference Finals contender. This year, I am still pro-Wizards. I see them making the second round, if they draw Cleveland. If they are on the opposite side of the draw from the Cavaliers, I think they can make the Conference Finals. Then again, I'm crazy, and I want my red, white, and blue finals.