After a slow start to the season, it’s decision time for the Washington Wizards. Should the team continue to push forward or should they start over?
The Washington Wizards have effortlessly been the epitome of mediocrity over the last 15 years. They have one thing going for them, though, and that’s consistency. After the drafting of John Wall in 2010, it seemed as if they may have had something else going for them though, a potential star if not a superstar on their hands.
Even though the first years of Wall’s career were fairly lowly for the team, they followed this up by selecting his future backcourt mate in Bradley Beal, yet another reason for hope.
Wall walked into the league to average 16 and eight, while also flashing his elite athleticism and defensive upside included in the true point guard’s package. His shooting splits were pretty abysmal, but you could clearly see the potential wrapped up in what he brought to the court.
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There’s a false narrative suggesting Wall is injury-prone, much like Anthony Davis, but the reality is he’s only played less than 66 games three seasons in his career, two of which were the previous two seasons.
This isn’t to refute that he’s definitely had an abundance of minor things pop up on the injury report, but it’s also not as if he’s had major injuries aside from recently.
Because of the lack of playoff success, shooting concerns, and recent injuries as he’s about to turn 29 though, the term “superstar” hasn’t been fitting for John Wall up to this point.
Bradley Beal is a similar caliber talent, though seemingly less problematic, less injury-prone, and obviously a better shooter. He came right into the league being able to stroke it from deep on a quality minute’s load and has been a bit underutilized up until recently.
Over the last two seasons and specifically 2018-19, we got to see his full potential as he took over a high usage rate in John Wall’s absence, essentially serving as one of if not the primary point guards on that team. His deep shooting suffered slightly, but that’s to be expected with such an uptick in roles. In light of this, his overall shooting split remained consistent at a modest 47 percent. I’m not suggesting Beal is the best player on the Wizards, but at this moment he is. If JW returns for the 2020 season at his full self properly healed, then it won’t be in question at all.
The Wizards had no true expectations of any accomplishments up until after the 2013 season. Beal had had time to grow with John; they’d acquired Porter, (who developed slowly) Gortat, and a clutch veteran presence in Paul Pierce. Ultimately, though, they never made it past the second round with this group. They endured basically the same result with the Hawks, Raptors, Celtics, and Pacers over a span of five seasons.
At this juncture, the team stands at an unknown crossroads in terms of whether they’ll make an attempt to win or not. There were rumors of trading John Wall, though I’m not sure who exactly would want his contract. There were also discussions of offloading Beal, because I mean at this point you can understand why some people may be calling for a reset of the franchise.
After an up and down fluctuation ranging from optimism to questionability surrounding the core of the team John Wall, losing some essential veterans, unusually trading Otto Porter midseason…and a lot of other wild decisions, you can see where the fan base’s confusion stems from.
It seems as if the Wizards were making decisions that suggested both that they wanted to tank and persevere simultaneously. We want to stay committed to our star backcourt, but we’d like to trade the bloated contract we gave to our younger starting wingman that can shoot competently. Oh, and in the trade, we’re going to acquire two guys whom we won’t re-sign. Sure you can excuse this as a salary dump, but it just seems like they’re going in a lot of different directions.
As it sits currently, there’s maybe…some…reason for optimism if you’re a Wizards fan? If you look on the bright side and assume Wall heals in due time, Beal remains himself and committed to the franchise, and assume the new GM will do a decent job regarding decision making, then you might talk yourself into having something to look forward to.
Aside from that, Thomas Bryant came as a pleasant surprise last season, maybe that continues? They signed IT to fill in for John this season. Maybe he returns to some sort of form of what he was in Boston, and you can keep him around to be your 6th man next season? Sure…maybe…those things all sound great, but potential energy isn’t always converted into kinetic, and things don’t typically workout perfectly.
In reality, there are several questions. Your most important player is coming back from major injury and nearing 30. You essentially have maybe 1-2 young intriguing prospects on the roster due to the fact that they refused to tank. Rui Hachimura and Bryant are nice but they aren’t exactly generational talents.
My advice would simply be that the Wizards need to pick a direction. If they intend to make a go at it and be a fun team to watch this season, they won’t be drafting very high and will need to somehow entice quality free agents to come to Washington.
Or…once they realize this roster is probably built to win about 25-35 games, they give it up this year. In the end, it’s up to them, and this is one of the league’s franchises that’s currently at a crossroads hesitant to make any big decisions, somewhat of a purgatory if you will. I’d hate to see Wall and Beal’s careers go to waste, especially due to an array of bad management decisions.