Is change in the air? Certainly not if you ask Washington Wizards fans this morning, a majority of whom are entrenched in disenchantment with the reported return of team president Ernie Grunfeld. The only true change fans might be used to at this point is a high-rate of roster turnover — after this season, the longest tenured Wizard, John Wall, will have been with the team for only the last 148 games– as well as the inescapable, save for one time, disappointment in NBA Draft Lottery position.
But we’re talking about change on the court, specifically the emergence of a basketball product that’s at least competitive — with a 101-73 win over the Charlotte Bobcats on Monday night, the Wizards have now won four in a row for the first time since December 2007. Of course, we should also be mindful of the fact that the Wizards will, at best, finish with one of the nine worst season winning percentages in 51 seasons of franchise history. Also, 22.2-percent of Washington’s 18 victories this season have come against a Bobcats franchise that has now lost 21 games in a row and is flirting with the worst winning percentage in NBA history if they don’t win one of their final two contests.
Ask some of the Wizards players about the reason for basketball product differences between early in the season and now, and you’ll get veiled explanations about new personnel and guys coming together as a team. Does it boil down to the fact that I like, and strive, to beat like a dead horse: that Nick Young, JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche (hopefully) are gone? It feels all too easy, almost disingenuous, to use the mentally inept as scapegoats. Yet, here we are, with a different basketball team, one that actually might find success given the right additions this offseason.
Maybe veteran Mo Evans said it best when asked about how late season success this year, as opposed to similar circumstances over the past several seasons of futility, should be evaluated with any grain of credibility.
“I definitely agree with you, we finished strong last year, but we still had a core of guys that weren’t quite as committed as the group we have now, wasn’t quite mature,” said Evans after the win over Charlotte. ”We had some guys … contract disputes and Nick Young … just different agendas, and now we have a mature group of guys that’s really come together, and that’s really playing well at the right time.”
Actually, Jordan Crawford said it better: “What we do this year ain’t going to have nothing to do with next year, really. But, you know, it just shows that you play as a team, trust each other, we can win some games.”
Congratulations, Wizards fans, another useless season of losing pixels and unmeasurable, blindly hopeful player development is on the cusp of completion. But hey, there’s always the future.
The Wizards Said WHAT? That’s what they said…