Wizards Fans Have No One to Blame But Themselves | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Wizards Fans Have No One to Blame But Themselves

By
Updated: October 22, 2018

Admit it.

You talked yourself into this Wizards team during the off-season.

You said things like:

“This is the deepest team in 15 years.”

and

“What if Dwight Howard has changed?”

You read articles about shooting 3-pointers and you allowed yourself to imagine the team playing a modern style.

You heard all the players say Ian Mahinmi is ready for a breakout, and damn if he didn’t look skinnier and more active in the preseason.

You heard Otto Porter promise to be more aggressive.

You heard Scott Brooks say he wants multiple players bringing the ball up the court.

You heard John Wall was going to play more off the ball.

You heard the team would stop arguing over calls.

You heard they would stop playing hero-ball at the end of games.

You heard all of it and you actually started to believe it all. As the calendar turned to October and optimistic training camp stories from beat reporters filled your timeline, you let your mind wander. Maybe, just maybe, if everything goes right, this team could be pretty good.

Then the season started, and it all came crashing down.

It’s not just that the Wizards lost their home opener to a Miami Heat team playing on a back-to-back with multiple injured players. It’s not just that they followed that up with a loss to a Toronto Raptors team playing on a back-to-back without Kawhi Leonard.

It’s how they lost.

The Washington Wizards are the exact same team they were last year (and the year before and the year before). Nothing has changed. All that preseason talk was just that – talk.

They still argue with refs. They still play hero-ball. Brooks still plays an all-bench unit that consistently gets outplayed. The bigs still don’t rebound. Nobody defends. Ian Mahinmi still fouls too much. John Wall still dribbles too much. Otto Porter still never gets open. Kelly Oubre still makes careless mistakes. Markieff still takes plays off. They still lose to shorthanded teams. They still fail to execute down the stretch of close games.

It’s easy to write off these losses as just two games out of an 82-game season. Scott Brooks attempted to do just that after the Raptors loss: “If it’s a two-game season, we had a bad year. It’s not.”

While Brooks is technically correct, the rest of his quote is revealing:

“We got a lot of basketball left. We’re close, and no athlete, no team, no coach is going to like to talk about close but we are. We got a couple of things here and there that we have to clean up. We’re making some mental mistakes, we have to stay in front of the ball, we can’t get beat back door when the ball goes around us. We got to put more pressure on the basketball and not get so–the ball cannot just get so easily into the key. With all that being said, both games we had a chance to win.”

The notion that the Wizards are “close” is absurd. This is not a brand new roster that needs time to gel. This is Scott Brooks’ third season with the Wizards. This is Wall, Beal and Otto’s sixth season together. The team is now 16 months removed from when they supposedly already “arrived” in a seven-game Eastern Conference semifinal series loss against the Boston Celtics.

And now we are supposed to believe this team simply needs to figure out a few basic defensive concepts and they will be ready to contend? This Wizards core is not an up-and-coming group. They are not “close” to reaching their potential. They have already realized it. They are who they are.

Former CSN Washington Wizards reporter J. Michael tweeted video of a few of Washington’s defensive lapses against the Raptors.

These are fundamental mistakes that have been happening in Washington for years. They are not minor miscues that can be cleaned up with a couple hard practices.

It was a bit comical reading Austin Rivers’ diagnosis of the Wizards’ problems after the Raptors loss:

“We got to rebound the ball, we got to make hustle plays, we got to defend. We are making it much more difficult. We lost to Toronto without Kawhi, we lost to the Heat without their guys, both on a back-to-back. We got to man up and take this personal.”

It reminded me of something that Emeka Okafor said way back in 2012 after the Wizards lost their first two games of that season. The newly-acquired Okafor did not understand why everyone was  so worried about an 0-2 start: “To make it a big deal out of 2 [games], I don’t think it’s fair.”

Both Austin and Emeka had the luxury of not having spent years watching Washington play. Wizards fans have no such luxury. Ted Leonsis may have been correct when he said this is possibly the deepest Wizards team he has had during his ownership. But that says a whole lot more about the ineffectiveness of the 15 previous rosters that Ernie Grunfeld has assembled than it does about the current Wizards’ team.

The Wizards spent the off-season promising a more modern, egalitarian brand of basketball. On opening night versus Miami, and again on Saturday against Toronto, Washington had chances to show how much they had evolved. After back-to-back losses to shorthanded opponents, it is painfully obvious that nothing has changed.

Whether the Wizards go 1-4 or 4-1 on their five-game west coast trip that starts tonight in Portland, their fate has been sealed. As Maya Angelou taught Oprah and Oprah, in turn, taught us: When people show you who they are, believe them. This applies equally to basketball teams.

The Washington Wizards showed us exactly who they are. It’s time to stop making excuses and finally believe them. If not, Wizards fans, you have no one to blame but yourself.

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.