Over the last few years, I've heard people talk about the Washington Wizards being a team with promise. They've said the Wizards were ready to turn things around, and become winners. Whenever I've heard those comments I've always laughed.
However, recently I'm not laughing so hard. I'm starting to think the Wizards are a no longer a team to laugh at, but maybe one starting to earn some respect.
Take a look at the NBA standings and you'll notice the Wizards currently have the sixth-best record in the East. Granted, the East is horrible, but the Wizards have been playing well lately.
The Wizards are only two games out of third place in the East. They have a chance to not only make the playoffs this season, but they might even have a shot to win a series in the playoffs. Of course, it's a long way off. Let's not get too carried away yet.
The Wizards are 20-21, just one game below .500. They have been at .500 four different times this season, and lost the next game each time, but I think they will get over that hump, sooner rather than later. When they do they just may take off and make a surge in the standings.
They have won four of their last six games. Certainly the biggest of those wins came last week when they beat two-time defending champion Miami Heat 114-97 (and the game wasn't even that close). Beating the Heat doesn't seem to be so tough these days as LeBron James and Co. have been struggling, but it was the way they did it -- they dominated the Heat.
That win was what caught my attention and made me stop laughing for the first time in years about the Wizards.
I've always been a fan of Wizards point guard John Wall, but I don't think he's had enough talent around him. Wall is averaging 20.2 points, 8.5 assists and 1.9 steals per game.
Bradley Beal continues to get better, and Trevor Ariza, Nene Hilario and Marcin Gortat make up a decent supporting cast.
I think the Wizards have a good balance of youth and experience.
Coach Randy Wittman seems to be doing a pretty good job molding the team, and I think his job is safe for a while in D.C.
The Wizards are getting it done with defense, ranked 12th in the NBA, giving up less than 100 points per game.
They also share the ball well, ranking eighth in assists.
It's hard to say what will happen the rest of the season, but I think they will make the playoffs. That would be a real step in the right direction for the franchise.
Beal is only 20 and Wall is 23, so they have two solid stars to continue building the team around.
In the last four years the Wizards haven't finished with more than 29 wins, but they only need eight more to top that this season.
The Wizards may not be ready to challenge some of the big teams in the playoffs yet, but I will at least say they are no longer a team to be laughed at. For a city craving for another championship in any sport, at least that's something to feel good about.
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or firstname.lastname@example.org Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd