We’re still on our NBA journey. The playoffs have begun, and sixteen teams vie for the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Fifteen teams will join the other fourteen non-playoff teams as those who did not win the championship. If a team did not win the title, then that means adjustments must be made in order to best position themselves to win next year. Here at TSFJ, we are going to present ways each franchise can fix themselves. We will have a safe way and an extreme way to do this. Sometimes, relationships just need repair. Other times, a breakup in some form is necessary. We continue with the fifth team eliminated from the postseason, the Washington Wizards.
Record: 43-39. 8th seed in the Eastern Conference
Head Coach: Scott Brooks
Playoff Result: Lost 1st Round, 4-2, to the Toronto Raptors (Dinosaur food.)
One could present a theory that the Washington Wizards are victims of circumstances beyond the franchise’s control. Because of where the team is located, the NFL team it shares the DC metropolitan area with and that team’s handling of a group of people, the Wizards may be indirectly cursed. I present this theory because it’s become more and more difficult to find a reason why the Wizards have not grown as a team and franchise.
What can I say about the Washington Wizards that hasn’t already been said about the Washington Wizards? Another season with an All-Star backcourt and solid supporting cast, another season marred by underperformance, even noting that the Wizards could have finished sixth in the Eastern Conference with one more win.
Even with their All-Star backcourt jockeying for the alpha position on the team like two rams with loads of confidence, and Scott Brooks being their coach, the Wizards made the playoffs. And against the top seed Toronto Raptors, Washington evened the series at 2-2, giving the city hope. There was belief mixed with disappointment as fans carried with them a feeling: “the Wizards could play like all the time!”
But they didn’t. They don’t. And unfortunately, it seems like they never will; at least, not this current construction of the team and front office.
So how do they fix it?
The Safe Fix
The Make-up Song: Q-Tip – “We Fight/We Love”
When there is a quarrel, everyone involved must come to the same resolution if the conflict can be fixed with togetherness. Humans have conflict. Personalities and egos are the main reasons for this, but they do not have to result in irreparable damage between people. John Wall and Bradley Beal both want to be the sole leader of the Wizards. Both have already received lucrative contract extensions, so it is expected for the two of them to work out their issues. They’re no longer really young, so it’s time for maturity to have dominion over their respective mental approaches.
The most interesting part about their dynamic is that Wall and Beal complement each other as a backcourt. Wall is a concentrated lightning bolt, while Beal is a heavy thunderstorm — his game nearly omnipresent with the way he can score from anywhere. Together, that backcourt is a rain dance that could hover over the entire conference. With front office commitment to both Wall and Beal, as well as Otto Porter Jr. getting a nice deal, the Wizards have established a core. Now, they must develop more chemistry.
The Extreme Fix
The Breakup Song: Michael Jackson & Paul McCartney – “The Girl Is Mine”
Fire Ernie Grunfield.
Fire Scott Brooks.
Flip a coin and trade Wall or Beal.
Rehire Scott Brooks and fire him again.
Okay, so the last option is unreasonably cruel. But the point behind the feeling is clear. Of all the teams that may need major turnover, the Wizards are the closest to that being definite. There is an absolute need for change in the franchise. Wizards’ playoff disappointments and collective letdown by DC’s sports teams aside, Washington’s NBA franchise lacks an element of stability and maturity. Wizards players have a lot of confidence, and aren’t afraid of any challenge. Yet their talk seems full of empty words, left proclaiming to be better than they showed.
Wall and Beal having this incessant battle is grating on the rest of the team. An internal war among a team when compromise is possible leads to friction and fissures through the locker room. Wall needs to understand that leadership is more than telling everyone else what to do. There should be a trust that he doesn’t have to make every play. Beal needs to understand that Wall still is the better player, and his facilitating is what has allowed his game to expand.
But if that can’t happen, the above fixes are available. The front office definitely needs to be revamped, and I’m surprised it hasn’t happened yet. There’s comfort in just dreaming without actually taking action to realize those dreams.
I don’t have the perfect formula to change the Wizards from disappointing franchise in a possibly cursed city to champion in one year, but something must change. Happy NBA, folks.
Poemer. 8-time Hug Champion. Pick&Roll Enthusiast. Guardian of Logic and Tact. Apocalypse’s good Brother. Collector of muted souls for Mt. Filtermanjaro.