Tranquilo: Why the Washington Wizards fans must stay calm

Washington Wizards must stay calm (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Washington Wizards must stay calm (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

The Washington Wizards are off to a winless start. And you can hear the grumblings rising above the din. Is it too soon for the noise of firing a coach and trading players? We don’t know. What we do know is that we all must stay calm…Tranquilo. 

With today marking the end of 2020, it is time to reflect on the past year. For the Washington Wizards, 2020 most notably brought about the end of the John Wall era in D.C.  As for me, when I hop into my version of Harry Potter’s Pensieve, I recollect that a year ago today, I set a goal to learn español.

Holding myself accountable, my learning has been asi-asi, which is to say I was on it for a few months before backsliding for a few months. But recently, I’ve managed to accumulate a 59-day streak on Duolingo. And to reinforce the learning, I’ve been (re)watching Netflix’s Money Heist (aka La Casa De Papel).

In this Spanish heist crime drama — think prison break with Latin passion — one recurring phrase has become my favorite: Tranquilo. Translation: quiet, calm, relaxed. It makes sense why “Tranquilo” is repeated during a robbery, but the remainder is just as valuable to Wizards fans as we try to stay calm during the team’s 0-4 start. Say it with me, Wizards fans. Tranquilo.

Take a deep breath and stay calm, Washington Wizards fans. There’s still time to fix things.

The Washington Wizards are currently sitting in the Southeast division’s cellar. Man, has it been a disappointing start to the season:  0-4 record, two blown fourth-quarter leads, turnovers galore, turnstile defense, missing a key player, inexplicable bench rotations, the shocking inability to score when it matters most – these are but some of the Washington Wizard’s early-season ills.

Start with the turnovers. In losses to the Philadelphia 76ers and Chicago Bulls, the Washington Wizards committed 19 turnovers. We hear professional basketball players and coaches religiously preach that it’s hard to win a game if you commit turnovers. Hell, even at the local 24-Hour Fitness or LA Fitness or Equinox, you’ll hear the same maxim. But the Wizards, in an irrational, iconoclastic way, go against the grain by violating this cardinal principle. With a truncated pre-season, in which the best players barely logged minutes together, the turnovers issue is understood. We hope it’ll end soon, though, because every win will matter this season. Nevertheless…Tranquilo.

Now let’s agonize over the inability to score when it matters most. In two of the losses (Philadelphia and their second loss to Orlando), the Wizards had untimely, scoreless spurts in the fourth quarter. In both games, they scored less than 25 points during the final frame, while their opponents scored at least 40 during that same time. What happened? Was a lid added to the basket? No. The Wizards just didn’t execute. Maybe it’d help if they had another scorer (or two) that can get his own. Well, one may be on the way, pending a successful recovery from pink eye. So…Tranquilo.

Next, let’s pull our hair out over the defense. What the ‘eye-test’ suggests, the numbers confirm: the Wizards defense STINKS! The analytics rate the club a lowly 23rd in opponent points per game and a ghastly 25th in defensive rating. And a recurring theme continues to hurt the Wizards: the inability to defend opposing wings. And when the opposing wings get into the heart of the defense, the Wizards frontcourt players cannot offer rim protection to stop said wings.

For example,  in the opener against the 76ers, Shake Milton scored 19 off the bench; in the two losses against the Magic, Terrence Ross and Markelle Fultz both went OFF; against Chicago, there was no stopping Otto Porter Jr. Simply put: the team plays turnstile defense.

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Will Rui Hachimura’s return help the Wizards stop some wings? We’ll see. Until then…Tranquilo.

According to my MacBook calculator, the Wizards have played a whopping five percent of the regular season. As such, there is no reason to get too upset over the early-season ills. Are they frustrating? You bet. But can the ills be corrected? We’ll know for sure in the new year. But for right now, we should remain calm and give the players some early room to make mistakes. Regardless of tonight’s outcome against the Bulls, we must remember to stay Tranquilo.