State of the Wizards: Underachieving Despite Injuries

State of the Wizards: Underachieving Despite Injuries
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The Washington Wizards are one of the biggest what-if teams in the NBA. If it weren’t for the Chicago Bulls constantly coming up short in the Eastern Conference, the Wizards would be that team. With so much talent and potential, the team simply hasn’t achieved what they truly can, and this year has been another example of it. Whether it’s coaching, injuries, or not executing when it matters most, Washington has yet to reach the heights it should.

John Wall is the best point guard in the Eastern Conference. Kyrie Irving is amazing, but really doesn’t do much outside of score. He isn’t a good defender by any means, and he isn’t a great passer for his position. Kyle Lowry has stretches where he looks like a top-three point guard in the league, but he then completely falls off the face of the earth. Don’t believe me? Take a look at his numbers post All-Star Game last year. Wall is an elite defender when he wants to be, and he is one of the best passers in the league, if not the best. He may never have that consistent jumper that’s practically needed at a guard position to take the next step in professional basketball, but he makes up for it in other ways.

Plus, who needs to shoot that well when you have a guy like Bradley Beal who can shoot for two people. The issue with the 22-year-old guard? Injuries, injuries, and more injuries. Beal has played in 63, 73, and 56 games over his first three seasons, respectively. He has only played in 17 this season so far. He has top-five shooting guard in the NBA talent, but he can’t take advantage of the opportunity. Wall and Beal could be the best backcourt in the league behind Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, but they are rarely both playing to the highest of their skill at the same time.

When they did, however, the results were beautiful for Washington. They swept the Toronto Raptors last season in dominating fashion and nearly pulled off the upset against the Atlanta Hawks. Marcin Gortat is another key player on the roster and a top-10 center in the NBA. Nene hasn’t been healthy through most of his career and has only played in 12 games this year.

Garrett Temple has shown flashes that he can be a very good player in the league, but those moments have been minimal. Otto Porter has also shown that he is a legitimate starter in the NBA, and Jared Dudley has been lights out from beyond the arc this season.

Randy Wittman has been under scrutiny during his tenure with the Wizards, especially as of late. If the team is 100 percent health-wise and unable to take advantage, we could see someone else on the sidelines in Washington next season. He has a 152-175 record in five seasons with the Wizards and has yet to lead them past the second round.

Kevin Durant has shut down rumors of him returning home next season, but you never know with NBA players. Durant could be coming to D.C., which would spell danger for the rest of the league. They would be a legitimate threat to take down LeBron James and the mighty Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference.

Enough with the speculation, though. The Wizards are a special team the way they are right now and they have to realize it and play like it before it’s too late. The Wizards are too good to be below .500 right now. You only get a certain amount of time in the NBA limelight before it’s all said and done. With contracts near the end and health a cause for concern, the Wizards' time is running out sooner than they think.