2014-15 Wizards: Save the Eulogy for the Funeral | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

2014-15 Wizards: Save the Eulogy for the Funeral

By
Updated: March 31, 2015
Part of the process? Lose mansion, get fat, pack things in box ... (but after a championship run!)

Sad John Wall.

Things look bleak. I’ll grant you that. If Washington continues its current level of play, the Wizards will have a very short stay in the playoffs. Even John Wall admitted as much on SportsCenter the day after Washington’s disappointing last-second loss to the Indiana Pacers:

“[I]t’s either we can fold now and take whatever seed we get and have a first-round exit if we’re gonna keep playing the way we’re playing, or we suck it all up as a group.”

The offense is a mess, the defense is confused, and the roster has so many holes that Ted Leonsis should be ordering this stuff by the gallon.

Should you be worried about the team’s future? Yes. Should you write off the playoffs before they even begin? No.

First, with all due respect, Bullets/Wizards fans are in no position to pooh-pooh a playoff appearance. There have been far too few over the last 35 years. At best, I’ll excuse those fans who are secretly rooting for a quick first-round exit to spur organizational changes. But the rest of you should get on board once the calendar hits April 18. You still have the entire off-season to complain about the state of the franchise.

Lest anyone forget, a similar doom-and-gloom scenario played out in April of last year. Given all the accolades Washington received after dominating Chicago in the first round, it can be difficult to remember that the Wizards entered the final month of the 2014 season as the 6-seed and were in real danger of falling behind the Charlotte Bobcats for the 7-seed and a first-round matchup with the Miami Heat. Washington had two chances to put away the Bobcats on March 31 in Charlotte and on April 9 at home and lost both games. Nothing about those embarrassing losses gave the impression that the Wizards had any shot in the playoffs.

Washington bounced back with four straight wins to end the season against tanking and/or resting teams and was gifted the 5-seed by a Brooklyn team that appeared happy to lose its final two games and swap playoff position with Washington to set up a first-round matchup versus Toronto. The rest is history.

This is not to say that a similar turnaround should be expected this season. But it’s not like Washington has been playing up to its full potential during this anemic 44-game stretch. With apologies to Bill Parcells, Washington is not a 19-25 team—or at least they shouldn’t be a 19-25 team. The Wizards have chronically underachieved for months and their futility seems to worsen as the season progresses. Chronic underachieving speaks to deep-rooted institutional failures that must be addressed swiftly and severely at the player, coach, and front office levels. But, perversely, it also gives reason for hope—at least in the short-term. The opportunity exists for a turnaround in the playoffs precisely because Washington has played so far below its abilities in the regular season.

The NBA Playoffs will be a brand new season. Every team starts 0-0 and each series is decided more on matchups than anything else. Washington is either going to play Toronto or Chicago in the first round, with the former looking a lot more likely than the latter. Washington matches up very well with Chicago. Toronto … not so much. The Raptors won the season series 3-0. However, Toronto has been struggling almost as much as Washington since the All-Star break. Prior to beating the Lakers at home last Friday, the Raptors lost 13 of their past 18 games.

If you need a reason to be optimistic, look no further than John Wall. Seriously, don’t look any further because no other player on the team merits your attention.

Wall is a one-man wrecking crew right now. His last three games have been spectacular (30.3 points, 8.0 assists, 7.0 rebounds, 2.7 steals and a bunch of clutch shots). The only problem is he is playing one-on-five. Not one teammate has consistently stepped up, which is pretty depressing given the veteran-laden squad that Ernie Grunfeld assembled.

However, the playoffs are a different animal. When the rotations tighten and Paul Pierce can (hopefully) play starter’s minutes, Washington boasts an experienced lineup—especially if Kris Humphries ever returns.

No matter which team the Wizards play in the first round, Wall will be the best player on the court. With the starters playing close to 40-plus minutes per game and Nene in full playoff mode, it would not take much more than Bradley Beal resurrecting his 2014 Playoff self to turn the Wizards into an entertaining post-season team.

Is it going to happen? I don’t know. But there’s no sense throwing dirt on the 2014-15 season until the casket is in the ground. There’s plenty of time for pitchforks in the off-season.

[John Wall sips on a win, via @recordsANDradio]

[John Wall sips on a win, via @recordsANDradio]

Adam Rubin on EmailAdam Rubin on Twitter
Adam Rubin
Reporter / Writer at TAI
Adam grew up in the D.C. area and has been a Washington Bullets fan for over 25 years. He will not refer to the franchise as anything other than the Bullets unless required to do so by Truth About It editorial standards. Adam spent many nights at the Capital Centre in the ‘90s where he witnessed such things as Michael Jordan’s “LaBradford Smith game,” the inexcusable under-usage of Gheorghe Muresan’s unstoppable post moves, and the basketball stylings of Ledell Eackles.