Is The Wizards Ceiling Higher Then The Basement?


Remember When Agent 0 Did Things Like This
I was recently listening to Bill Simmons discuss the Wizard’s front office futility with his buddy House, a die hard Wizards fan. The risky contract they gave to Arenas, refusal to break up the team or make trades after multiple seasons in the basement are getting panned universally. This was no different.

“Whats their ceiling? Going out in the first or second round?” was Bill’s estimate.

Its overly harsh. Their handling of Lebron and the Cavs showed lots of promise that maybe was not such a surprise to the front office. What is the ceiling of the healthy Wizards? Is it really just first round exit? There’s a few questions that people should be asking.

Should Arenas even be playing?

Maybe its a risk. His come backs have all been rushed and resulting in re-injury. This time he’s waited over a year and reports say his leg is 8 times stronger then his last attempt. I doubt he’s going to spend his summer trying to make 100,000 jumpers this time either. The most retarded rehab effort I’ve ever heard of… he had to stop when his knee started to swell. I’m sure he’s learned his lesson. The Wizards are taking a chance but I think Gil needs to go into the summer knowing he’s still capable to enter next season confident.

The following savy front office move goes unacknowledged too. Season almost over, team has the worst record, upcoming renewal for season tickets and the worst economy since the great depression. Washington swung for the fences and made contact. How many season tickets do you think will be renewed on the basis of that solitary super charged home win against their rival and best team in the NBA? I’m betting a whole bunch. In one game Arenas/Washington gave their fans something to hope for and believe in. Basketball moves don’t always make money. More money always puts you in a position to win more games if your owner cares. Money is always the difference between a team staying or leaving.

So where was this team the last time they were healthy?

People’s memories are short. Less then a season after the Spurs lucked past Phoenix people say “they just can’t beat the Spurs without playing D.” No mentions that Nash was out for the end of game 1 because of a bloody nose and/or the Amare suspension.


Bet you Steve Nash Remembers!

Thats only linked with their string of bad luck. They’ve been labeled not good enough to beat SA and the reason is always no defense instead of the things that caused their losses. People call the past Lakers three peat team unstoppable except they were bailed out by the refs against the Kings/Blazers and the Charles Barkley injury in successive years. No one mentions their 3 straight were not earned. Short memories.

In 05/06 the Wiz had the sixth best offense in the league and took Cleveland (who made the finals) to an incredibly tight 6 games. It says something that they almost beat the team that did beat Detroit. In 06/07 when last healthy they had the best record in the Eastren Conference, were 10 games over .500 and playing over .600 ball. Things were looking up, way up.

What happened… did they lack the talent to win?

Then the problems started. Caron Butler missed 20 games that overlapped Jamison’s own missed 12 games. Once back they lost Arenas and the season was over. They managed to salvage a .500 record and make the playoffs but got swept in the first round by Bron Bron and the Cavs.

In 07/08 Agent Zero rode the IR for a full season (consequently destroying my fantasy team’s first place hopes. :( 2′nd) Solace: Caron Butler started to blossom into a big time player. Taking and making game changing shots he and Jamison led the Wiz to a 43-39 record and the playoffs without their best player. They couldn’t handle the Cavs but they were playing without a player who produces 30 points, 6 dimes, 5 boards, 2 steals and is their unquestioned game closer. If the Cavs played without James I bet they don’t beat Washington with Arenas either.

Should they have resigned ‘The Hibachi’?

They re-signed their injured cornerstone hoping the medical staff was right when they said he could make a full recovery. People spout opinions but never have the sensitive data from team doctors about health. Statements are almost always conjecture amid the ballyhoo of the armchair athleate.

Denver got slammed for giving Nene a contract and now he’s the best defensive NBA 5. Wade got written off too: he’s an MVP candidate. Arenas has entered the Wade zone and is hoping for redemption. You have to recgonize that teams employ the best sports medicene specialists in the world to help them make decesions ‘not’ based on conjecture. So at least give a little slack. It sounds risky to me too: but if Arenas is fully back he is a max deal player without doubt.

So what can they do now… has the team gotten better or worse?

Move to the present. In the draft they picked up super athletic Nick Young and solid big Javale McGee. Brendan Haywood continues to develop as a dependable rotation player. Add a bonefide superstar to the mix (pending full recovery by Arenas) and the Wizards are looking like a legitimate sleeper to come out of the east.

Sooner Then Later: Griffin’s Going To Make Impact Wherever He Lands

That’s now. Consider this year’s draft prospects: a serious shot at Blake Griffin. After watching Griffin in the tournament his addition to the Wizards roster would push them to contender and improving status. If the balls don’t go their way however they still get a very high pick and can grab a solid point guard from whats left in a weak draft year for every other position.

Whats their ceiling? I’m not sure they have one. A team with a legit superstar in his prime if Arenas can complete The Wade next year. A legitimate second scoring option who can and has been #1 on a winning team. Talented youth. Experienced vets. Bring in a decent coach from the large pool of qualified non-working coaches. Lots of options for trades.

That’s a winning combination for a very successful team and you’ve got to at least say they could make the East finals. Without Arenas Butler/Jamison took them to 43 wins. 3 or 4 more puts them in 4′th place matching up against a very beatable Atlanta Hawks. Could they challenge the Cavs in a series like they used to? It looks possible.

Back to that game. It meant way more to Cleveland then they let on. Dates with Orlando, San Antonio and Boston are on the schedule. Half of their remaining games are on the road and Celtics/Lakers have favorable schedules. They needed this game to secure home court in a tight race.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xi2F7GG17V0]

They Didn’t Just Win , They Beat Lebron James
Washington didn’t just win this game. And it wasn’t a matter of the Cavs expecting to coast and being caught off guard. James was quoted saying “Records don’t matter when we play eachother.” The Wizards controlled the game against their rival from the opening tip with the first healthy Arenas in 2.5 years. The Wizards’ have 17 wins. The Cavs have 60+ and came into Washington riding a 13 game winning streak.

Too many make their names by jumping on teams/people who are down. Its easy to kick people with bad luck: they already look like losers which puts them right at boot height. How many tough breaks a franchise can get in a row? The Wizards are still wondering what happens to their team when that luck finally starts to turn back to positives. I think a little faith is admirable in today’s sports universe. Sometimes faith pays off. Ask Lebron James what happens when the down and out kicks back. They play again at home and you can bet its going to be a barn burner.
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