I mentioned this a couple of weeks ago, but when the season started, most of us expected the Washington Wizards finishing at around .500, which is a pretty reasonable expectation. We hoped John Wall and Bradley Beal would make leaps, we hoped Nene would stay healthy, we hoped the bench additions would stabilize the second unit, and we hoped that Marcin Gortat would provide more offense at the center position, but few, if any, felt comfortable enough to predict more than 43 wins.
I mention this to say that if many of us were told back in October that on January 24 the Wizards would be 20-21 and hold the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference, I’d imagine the general response would be that that’s just about what was expected. While that may very well be the case, boy is it difficult to watch on a nightly basis and keep that overall view in perspective. I told my buddy Munf this morning that looking at things in a vacuum from a wider macro perspective don’t seem all that bad, but when you get into the details of the micro view, things are a mess.
So while in a utopian world we’re supposed to keep the macro view in perspective, in the thick of the season, when you see all the missed opportunities, shoddy defense, and the allergy to getting over the .500 hump, it’s hard to appreciate that. Especially in an Eastern Conference that has been dreadful all season, and only now has five teams over .500. Fact is, this is an average team right now, in standings and in many major statistical categories. We also notice that the team is near the top of the league in some of the stats, and at the bottom in others (This is going to be true in basically any season for any team and in any sport, but I didn’t want to imply that the Wizards are just the median across the board in everything). Average teams generally beat the teams they are supposed to, and lose to the better teams in the league. It seems like half of the things we hoped for have panned out (I’m probably being generous), and half have failed miserably, with the rest about in the middle. Randy Wittman is still basically who we thought he was, and almost everybody still wants Ernie Grunfeld gone. On some nights we see the great potential of the team, and on some nights we see a cluster****. Sometimes we see both in a single game.
The 5-game homestand that the team just finished was important because there are some tough games on the upcoming road trip, starting tonight against the Phoenix Suns, and over the next couple of weeks in general, with a particularly rough five-game stretch that starts at the Golden State Warriors and ends with hosting the San Antonio Spurs. Alas, after shocking the Miami Heat to start the homestand, they finished the final four games at 2-2.
Like most Wizards fans, I get caught up in a victory or a win streak and start drinking the Kool-Aid, only to watch them lose a game they should win and start yelling “fire everybody!” I didn’t write this to say I’ve had some epiphany or anything. I don’t really know if there is a general point to this at all, other than we expected mediocre, and at the midpoint of the season, it appears that we’re getting it. Here’s to keeping our sanity!