Given a choice of John Wall’s 47-point game, Bradley Beal’s buzzer-beater against OKC, or Martell Webster’s career-high seven 3-pointer game, which performance stands out the most for you?
Joe: All three performances were highlights for another non-playoff year but Wall’s stood out to me for a couple of reasons. First, it wasn’t just the 47 points, it was the fact that he did it despite the absence of his wingman, Bradley Beal and his big man, Nene. Wall also scored his 47 points off 22 shots, got to the line 24 times and added 7 rebounds and 8 assists against one of the better defensive teams in the league in the Memphis Grizzlies. All of this was on the heels of every possible detractor of Wall’s offensive game coming down on him for not living up to his draft position and the organization given nickname of the “Game Changer.” Being the ever optimistic Wizards fan that I am, games like this just make me salivate more at the thought of what Wall can do when he is surrounded by more talent. 40 point games were the norm in the playoff days of the Agent Zero-led Wizards but seeing John do it combined with his continual shooting improvement as the season was winding down should make every Wizard fan excited about what the Wizards do this offseason.
Charles: Wall’s 47 point game was easily the highlight of my season. My wife keeps asking me to delete it from the DVR but it’s currently enjoying the “Keep Until I Delete” status. After months of hearing how bad his jump shot was and how much further along Kyrie Irving is, this was the moment that Wizards fans had been waiting for from our #1 overall pick. This was the moment when we let out the collective breath that we were holding for three years.
Trevor: I loved each and every one of these moments. I couldn’t have been more pumped for Webster that game when he was raining threes, minus the fact that he may have shot himself out of the Wizards price range. The Bradley Beal game winner was so money, I think my excitement and celebration may have scared my couchmate/game partner/dog. This was right around the time of Beal’s January turnaround, and it proved he is ready to be a leader on the floor. He also went 5-for-7 from three that game and finished with 22 points. But the king of these highlights has to be John Wall’s 47 point game. Not only because it was great watching him drop 47 by scoring in all kinds of ways — which it was — but more so what it symbolized. This what right in the middle of his takeover, and that game represented that John Wall had officially taken that next step. People had been questioning whether he was ever going to get to that next level, including myself, and this game helped silence all those questions and quiet all the critics. The real John Wall has arrived.
The Wizards lottery pick in the upcoming NBA Draft: keep it, or trade it?
Joe: Had Ernie Grunfeld not traded the #5 pick where he could have landed Ricky Rubio, Steph Curry, DeMar DeRozan or Brandon Jennings I don’t think Wizards fans would be against trading the pick this year. For that matter, I don’t think that move alone has caused pessimism from fans about this front office getting this next step right. You can just take a look at the history of Ernie’s personnel moves here, it’s not exactly a glowing endorsement for “trust us, we know what we are doing.”
Having said all that, there are a bunch of questions that must be asked and answered. Will Martell Webster be back and is he the long term answer at the small forward position? Do you listen to Wall, Beal and everyone else who said that Washington needs a stretch 4 (power forward?) Is that stretch PF in this draft? More importantly, where will Washington end up picking when the draft lottery plays out a few weeks from now?
So, for the sake of this question let’s say the Wizards don’t land a Top 3 pick which would provide a whole slew of new options…
I’d like to see them keep it. There are no superstar names in the middle of this lottery but I think Washington could get a very good player and I’d be fine with landing any one of the following: Zeller, Muhammad, Len, Plumlee, Olynyk. All this is assuming that Anthony Bennett is off the board when Washington picks because he fits need and skill requirements in my humble opinion.
Charles: If it’s a top 5 pick I would keep it, but anything else I would be open to moving it. Grunfeld’s drafting has been sketchy at best and putrid at worst — no need to start listing names and embarrassing people *cough* Olekisy Pecherov. With Ernie’s less than stellar draft track record and a less than stellar draft class, if the pick can be moved for a selection in next year’s draft, then I’d pull the trigger.
Trevor: Ahhh, this is certainly the question. I would like to say that I have faith in our front office to make the right decision either way, but unfortunately I have been molded into a pessimist when it comes to these things. This is the biggest off-season we have had since the Wizards signed Gilbert Arenas. The roster needs one more high impact player, and the bench needs depth. If we want to be serious about being a contender, this one can not be botched. The only way I would want to see us trade the pick is if it is for a legit, established player at the 3, 4, or 5 spot who is on the right side of the age of 30. If it is not going to land a top-level guy, then we need to keep this pick. People in the organization from Martell Webster, to John Wall, to Ted Leonsis have hinted at getting another veteran over a rookie, but this team’s big man “core” of Emeka Okafor and Nene are not getting any younger and we all know the backups are shaky at best. We all know what happens when you go for a “quick-fix” scenario [see Mike Miller and Randy Foye] and I don’t think that is the right thing to do with this team………..unless of course it is for the right player.
Optimistic the Wizards were 24-25 with John Wall, or pessimistic the Wizards failed to reach 30 wins? What angle do you take heading into the summer?
Joe: I’m always optimistic about the Wizards next season, the real question is what do you define as success?
Making the playoffs tends to be the bar set around these parts and I would be shocked, scratch that, I will be pissed beyond all belief if Washington isn’t pushing for a 4-5 seed in 2014. They have all the talent to be a middle of the pack playoff team in the Eastern Conference, they just have to stay healthy.
I believe Wall should be max’d, I think they should bring back Martell Webster who provided more than just a wicked jump shot (NSWF), and they have to get this draft/trade/free agent acquisition right in the offseason.
Wall and Beal showed enough to get fans excited about this backcourt and if Nene can get healthy enough to not be a question mark then maybe at some point we can start pushing that bar beyond just getting to the dance.
So to sum things up…
IF Washington can improve the talent on the team and overcome some horrendous personnel moves from years past that basically erased a year worth of draft picks then everyone should be optimistic.
From listening, reading and talking to Wizards fans I think everyone is in a wait and see mode and how can you blame them. 1978 was a really long time ago and while loyalty is great in times of struggle Tiger Woods said it best, winning cures everything. It’s time for Ernie and the front office to start winning the offseason battles.
Charles: As Wizards fans, we have pessimism down to a science. It’s almost too easy. So for me the future looks bright through my rose colored glasses. When the core of the team — Wall, Beal, and Nene — were healthy, this team could and did compete with every team in the NBA. With John Wall’s ascension into super-stardom *fingers crossed* and Bradley Beal playing Robin to his Batman, the Wizards future looks very bright. Let’s hope that it’s not just my glasses.
Trevor: Can I go with a little of both? As mentioned before, this team sadly makes me lean toward the pessimistic side. We blame injuries, and rightfully so, but good teams have the depth and talent to overcome injuries and still be good teams (Chicago Bulls). The way this team is built, it is not set up to be able to overcome ANY injuries at all. John Wall goes down? Game over. Bradley Beal goes down, offense is completely messed up. Martell Webster hurt, offense suffers. Nene is 50/50, we play rotate the non-impactful power forward game. 24-25 is not exactly what we should be striving for. It is not enough. Accepting mediocrity should be a thing of the past for this franchise.
“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
It seems like we are always stuck looking for the promise of “next year”, yet the ongoing fan struggle inside my head is screaming for me to be optimistic. Keeping that hope alive for a better next year is one of the things that keeps fans going. I feel like this roster is one player away. One impact player added with a little health and a little luck and this team is right there. Everybody can see that this back court has the ability to be something extremely special. If the Wizards can somehow manage to get it right this summer, we could be looking at some very different expectations than previous years.