Brad Fauber: Wiz bringing success to D.C. this winter
Things have certainly sunk to a miserable low for Washington, D.C. football fans over the course of the last several months.
This season has brought with it nothing but more of the same old disappointment that Redskins fans have grown accustomed to. And with the benching of quarterback Robert Griffin III ahead of Sunday’s game against the Colts, Washington fans are now fully realizing that unsettling feeling that has been building since September, that the last three seasons have been essentially wasted years for the Redskins. Their once prized second-overall pick is almost certainly on his way out of Washington, with no immediate help in sight thanks in part to all of the resources traded away to get RG3.
But rest assured D.C. sports fans, there is a team worth watching during the cold months ahead that you’re going to spend in front of your television — the Washington Wizards.
It had been a long time since a Washington-based NBA franchise played meaningful basketball, then the Wizards ended three decades worth of misery with last season’s trip to the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The 2014-15 NBA season is still well in its infancy, but it certainly appears as if the sudden success the Wizards had last season was not a fluke, but rather a sign of things to come.
Though the Wizards have lost two straight following Washington’s 113-87 loss to Cleveland on Wednesday night, the Wizards are still 9-5 and look like a serious contender for the title of the Eastern Conference’s best, as they trail only Toronto for the conference’s top spot.
Part of the Wizards’ early success can be attributed to their schedule. Of Washington’s nine wins so far this season, only two have come against a team that had a winning record before Thanksgiving, and both of those wins came against Milwaukee. But at the same time, it’s encouraging to see the Wizards winning the games they are supposed to while avoiding the letdown losses against bad teams, which is all a team can do when in that situation.
The other reason for their success is the Wizards are good, plain and simple. And one of the biggest reasons for that is the continued rise of guard John Wall.
Through his first 14 games, Wall has been the best of both worlds, scoring points at a team-high 18.6 points-per-game clip and while dishing out 9.2 assists per contest, a mark among the top five in the NBA. He’s also averaging a team-high 2.3 steals per game, which is also one of the best marks in the league.
And Wall is not doing it alone. Fellow guard Bradley Beal, who missed the first nine games after undergoing surgery to repair a broken wrist, has looked good in his return to the court, providing further accreditation to the duo’s self-proclaimed title as the best backcourt in the league. Beal is averaging 14.6 points per contest while working primarily off the bench so far.
The offseason addition of veteran Paul Pierce has also looked like a great move, as he is third on the team with a 13.3 points-per-game average. Add in the solid play from big men Marcin Gortat — who is nearly averaging a double-double so far — and Nene, as well as the increased role of second-year forward Otto Porter, and the Wizards have a very balanced lineup that could compete with most teams on a nightly basis.
I know it’s still early, but the Wizards look primed to build on last season’s breakthrough campaign, which is a good sign for Washington sports fans searching for something to cheer about this winter.
<p id=’reporter_info’>Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or <a href=’mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org’>email@example.com</a></p>