Jan 17, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Chicago Bulls power forward Carlos Boozer (5) shoots the ball as Washington Wizards point guard John Wall (2) defends in the third quarter at Verizon Center. The Wizards won 96-93. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
4) And finally, the Wizards have missed the postseason since 2008, finally ending their drought this year. Sum up your thoughts on the team finally making the NBA Playoffs and what it means for the franchise going forward.
Making the playoffs is huge. People can say, “Oh they’re in the East,” but the Wizards can’t control that. All they can do is compete and win games, which is what they did this season. I am extremely proud of John Wall. He got paid the max contract and people around the league were skeptical. Wall came out and led his team to the playoffs for the first time and just about made the leap to stardom.
Moving forward, the Wizards are in a great position with a core group of young players. Wall has made his leap and Bradley Beal will do the same in a year or two. We’ve seen flashes of brilliance from Otto Porter who will be a contributor next season. With these three players, all under 23 years old, the Wizards have a bright future. They might be able to attract another superstar free agent, too.
I can’t understate the importance of making the postseason. Being a playoff team, especially in the Eastern Conference has been scoffed at by some, but look at the damage the past six years has done to this organization. Fan morale has been low, national TV games are non-existent, and the Wizards have been fourth most talked about professional team in what is a basketball savvy market. The Wizards needed to build back credibility, both on a local and national stage. By not only making the playoffs, but winning their last four games and climbing from 7th and 5th in the Eastern Conference over the past week, they’ve begun to accomplish that. What lays ahead in this series and in the offseason with major decisions looming is to be determined, but they’ve at least given themselves an opportunity to make some noise in the playoffs and in the offseason. Without a postseason berth, that opportunity to take the next step may not have presented itself.
Its surreal. As a fan, I’ve been waiting for this moment all my life and cannot contain the excitement. I haven’t felt this happy all year, even when it was known the Wizards were going to the playoffs. Its definitely a plausible question whether the Wizards can build on this run, or whether this team is sustainable for next year. However, for the entire city of Washington, having a basketball team to root for past April is a feeling that will cherished among all fans. This playoff run also gives us a chance to see our young stars shine where the lights shine brightest, and give the Wizards a chance of creating buzz that will attract fan interest and possibly future free agent signees.
This year’s playoff run is critical for a variety of reasons regarding the franchise. For one, the team’s development will benefit greatly from finally putting it all together and winning. The city, one that often overlooks professional basketball, will help revitalize Verizon Center on those nights that the Capitals aren’t playing. And pending a strong performance vs. Chicago and beyond, the league and its stars will take notice of a franchise on the cusp of contention. That said, years of futility doesn’t require the team to accept mediocrity as lightning in a bottle. There is much work to be done, and no guarantee of future success when the rest of the conference regroups. Bringing in a competent front office and an innovative coach is imperative to get the most out of the current roster and establish the best one moving forward. The time it takes to go from ‘young team on the rise’ to ‘squad that missed its window’ is faster than anyone realizes. The time is now to maximize the prime of this team’s young guns.
It was fun to watch the Wizards again this year, as almost every game was exciting and competitive until the very end. We’ve seen Wall and Beal gain some national recognition during All-Star Weekend, and now that the Wizards are finally in the playoffs, they can continue to attract more of the spotlight and fame. That will be key for the Wizards going forward, as future free agents (ahem Kevin Durant) will notice this and look at Washington as a premier basketball city.