Washington Wizards Mailbag Monday: Why the Wizards Have One of the Best Young Cores in the NBA
Washington Wizards are experiencing legitimate success now, but their core of John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter is built to last for the future.
Scott Brooks‘ club has completely turned their season around and have become one of the league’s hottest teams, winning 17 straight games at home.
Washington is rocking a 30-20 record and are on pace to finish with homecourt advantage once the NBA Playoffs begin.
John Wall is having an All-NBA caliber season, putting up 23 points and over 10 assists per game. Bradley Beal has blossomed into one of the NBA’s elite scorers – not just shooters. Otto Porter is leading the NBA in 3-point percentage.
But what does the team’s growth mean for the future? Will they ever be able to eclipse LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers? Is this sort of success sustainable?
That will be the focus of today’s mailbag.
As always, thanks for participating.
@WizOfAwes I go to games. I cheer. Wilbon on abc saying DC needs to show up. How can we do more to show up for the Wiz?
— Anneliese Fish (@iam_afish) February 6, 2017
Washington has the fifth worst average attendance in the NBA.
The team, as previously mentioned, has won 17 straight games at home. Yet, for some reason, folks in the district don’t seem to care.
Look – the Washington Wizards are a good basketball team. You don’t have to be an expert in advanced analytics to understand that the team plays well. Just take a look at their record and recent results. Watch John Wall play. The dude is obviously elite.
But that doesn’t erase years and years of torturous losing. That doesn’t erase the Jan Vesely draft pick. That doesn’t erase GunGate.
It takes a long time to reverse history. The Washington Wizards have put together a solid basketball team this season, but that doesn’t mean people have forgotten about their stinky past.
If you poop your pants in calculus, people will still remember you as the kid who soiled his pants in class three years later. You’ll walk in the hallway with clean pants, but you’ll get strange looks until you graduate, move away and change your identity.
The Washington Wizards will always be the Washington Wizards, regardless of their current success. It takes a long, long time before people forget.
— Andy Lomeli (@andy_lomeli) February 6, 2017
It’s a little bit of both, really.
People might look at the Brooklyn Nets on the schedule and chalk it up as a win, but it’s not that simple. They still have real players that are capable of swinging the result.
Beating “bad” teams is an underrated skill.
Remember when the Wizards lost to the Philadelphia 76ers? Remember when John Wall scored over 50 points against the Orlando Magic and the Wizards still lost?
Now they’re beating teams they’re supposed to beat. That progress, even though it’s not something to necessarily celebrate.
But the Washington Wizards also have some signature wins at home. They dominated the Boston Celtics in D.C. after arriving in all black. They set themselves up for a disaster and pulled out their most impressive win of the season.
Washington also beat a healthy Los Angeles Clippers team at home. Before Chris Paul and Blake Griffin were sidelined with injuries, the Clippers seemed to be one of the only teams in the NBA capable of threatening the Golden State Warriors.
It’s tough to gauge how good the Wizards actually are, but they seem to have the makings of a competitive team. They’re beating bad teams without breaking a sweat. Most contending teams do exactly that.
You can’t blame the Wizards for having an “easy” schedule. They’re taking care of business – just like good teams do.
— Louie Sigalas (@Lootcakes) February 6, 2017
This is probably the most underrated aspect about the Washington Wizards’ roster.
Ernie Grunfeld, for all of his faults, has done a solid job of building a team for the future while also competing today.
John Wall is just 26. Bradley Beal and Otto Porter are both 23. Kelly Oubre just turned 21. And they’ve all shown flashes of being stars.
Wall is an All-NBA player, while both Beal and Porter have played at an All-Star level this season.
More from Wiz of Awes
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Oubre can finally drink legally, but he’s already one of the team’s best defenders.
Plus, at 6-foot-7, he has the physical tools that are necessary to succeed in the modern NBA.
He’s shown massive improvement on the perimeter, becoming a consistent threat from deep.
Washington is the third best team in the East, but it’s not like their success will stop this season.
The core will only continue to get better.
But how will they match up against the rest of the East in the future? That’s almost impossible to measure.
We can assume the Cleveland Cavaliers will remain on top. LeBron James, even in his mid-30s, will be the best player in the league, arguably.
Kyrie Irving will be in the prime of his career then, too.
And as Nithin pointed out on Twitter, the Boston Celtics own the Brooklyn Nets’ future draft picks. The Nets won’t be good for a while, so those picks will be in the high lottery. Boston already has an established core in Isaiah Thomas, Jaylen Brown, Jae Crowder and Al Horford. If they draft well, they should be competing for a top spot in the East for years to come.
The Philadelphia 76ers are going to be stellar, too. Joel Embiid, if he remains healthy, will be an MVP candidate. Ben Simmons was picked first overall in this past year’s draft and has the potential to become a star player.
If I had to rank the top three, I’d go: Cavaliers (by default, but it will depend on how well LeBron ages), Sixers and Celtics.
Washington is right outside of that range.