Slowly but surely, the Washington Wizards continue to improve. To the naked eye, that 6-8 record is indicative of exactly how mediocre the former Bullets have been since Gilbert Arenas stopped netting 35-foot threes. But games like Tuesday night’s 116-111 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers prove that there just might be something brewing for John Wall and co.
First, credit to the former number one pick for elevating his game to the levels that Washington hoped for when they took him out of Kentucky. His 19/8.9/4.5/2 slash (ppg/apg/rpg/spg) is pretty incredible. The only point guard in basketball stuffing the stat sheet better is Chris Paul (19.3/12.5/5/2.4), who, you know, is Chris Paul. Even if Wall’s efficiency notches him below Paul, Steph Curry and Ty Lawson (who is having an incredible season for Denver), it’s time we start acknowledging Wall as a top five point.
He’s not alone. Nene matched set a new career high against Los Angeles with 30 points. If you’ve followed his career, you’re aware that the Brazilian forward survived a bout with cancer early in his career. Kind of hard not to root for a guy like that.
And, really, watching him get buckets is just such a joy; maybe it’s the smile, maybe it’s the natty dreads, but there’s always been an extra bounce in Hilario’s style, an energy that propels fast break dunks and limber post moves. Marcin Gortat and Martell Webster also provide solid depth.
All that praise, and we’re not even discussing the team’s previous first-round picks, Bradley Beal (who was scoring 20 points per game before he got hurt ) and Otto Porter Jr. (who is finally suiting up to practice with the team after battling early injuries). As an NBA fan, you have to be intrigued about a John Wall/Bradley Beal/Otto Porter Jr./Nene/Marcin Gortat starting five. At the very least, that squad wins you a lot of games on 2K.
Don’t mistake any of this for a promise of even making the playoffs. They’re still a team without much of a bench, and a lot of their potential is just that: potential. But for the first time in a while, the Wizards’ vision makes sense.