Ways to Cheer Up a Despairing Washington Wizards Fan
To all the Washington Wizards fans out there: everything will be okay.
That may be hard to believe after seeing your Wizards tank quickly after they made their last playoff appearance in 2007-08.
However, it is still a building process for the franchise, and the only way it can go is up.
Despite its 5-28 record, Washington has a nice roster of young players who are eager to move up in the Eastern Conference standings.
Anything is possible for the Wizards. After all, that is what faith is for.
Bradley Beal Is Not a Bust
I'm sure the Wizards front office has no complaints about selecting Bradley Beal No. 3 in the 2012 NBA Draft.
His game-winning pump-fake jumper against the Thunder was a clear indicator of what he is capable of doing in clutch time.
In the 115-113 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Jan. 4, Beal's three-pointer was responsible for sending the game into a second overtime.
Plays like those make it hard to believe that Beal only played one year at Florida before landing in the NBA. His confidence and poise under pressure is rarely found in most 19-year-olds in the league, and he will only get better as a player.
As of Jan. 10, Beal is fourth among rookies and second on the Wizards with his 13.1 points per game.
And his numbers may rise once ailing point guard John Wall returns to the lineup. Beal is more of a 2 and is actually averaging more rebounds (3.6) than assists (2.6).
With Wall's pass-first mentality and superb offensive leadership, Beal will be able to focus more on accuracy (he's only shooting 37 percent from the field) and being the Wizards' new go-to-guy.
Recent Victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder
The Wizards' 101-99 win over then-league best Oklahoma City Thunder on Jan. 7 only gave them their fifth win of the season, but it's a W, and a darn good one.
It's no fluke, either.
But what made this Thunder victory so special is the fact that Washington controlled the momentum of the entire game. They out-rebounded the Thunder 45-44, shot 44 percent in field goals and had a 55.6 three-point field goal percentage.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma City could not buy a shot from three-point land, shooting a pitiful 24 percent. Kevin Durant made the only three-pointer that mattered when he tied the game at 99 with 36 seconds left.
And then Wizards rookie Bradley Beal crushed the Thunder's dreams with his game-winning jumper.
This game was the biggest upset of the week—possibly the biggest of the season thus far.
Well done, Washington.
John Wall Seeks to Return vs. Atlanta Hawks
John Wall has been the face of Wizards hope ever since they drafted him first overall in 2010.
After playing all 66 games last season, Wall has been spending every game sitting on the bench in street clothes this year, nursing a stress in his left knee.
It looks like he has to shed some pounds to get back into shape, but having him in the lineup would still be a tremendous help for the Wizards.
What Washington has been missing was a true floor general comfortable with leading the offense. That is what Beal lacked, and having Wall back will help fix that.
We shouldn't expect Wall to immediately spring back to his numbers from 2011-12 (16.3 points and 8 assists per game), but there's no denying the excitement he brings to the Verizon Center.
Nene Hilario is another player who has been plagued by injuries. Out of the Wizards' 33 games, Nene has only played 20.
Yet, his 12.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, plus his ferocious defensive enthusiasm, are being vastly missed right now. He is still listed as day-to-day and is questionable to play against the Hawks.
Having both back will not bring their record to .500 any time soon, if at all.
But if they can keep Wall and Nene healthy, plus continue to base their offense around the development of Beal and power forward Kevin Seraphin, Washington will not be a joke to the league anymore.
NBA Draft Lottery Pick
True, the Wizards are playing with a spark that defies their league-worst record.
But let's be real—an NBA Draft lottery pick is inevitable.
It will most likely be a Top 5 pick, but that is nothing to be ashamed of. Look at it this way: Washington can continue to concoct its team of the future and end up being contenders.
If there is one thing about the Wizards, it's unpredictability.
In the 2004-05 season, the Wizards ended a seven-year playoff drought and went on to appear in three straight postseasons after that. It is not too far-fetched for them to make another serious run within the next couple of years.
What Washington needs now is a versatile small forward, one who can both be a factor on the wing and down in the post. UCLA's Shabazz Muhammad, who is currently ranked No. 2 overall in ESPN's Top 100 2013 NBA Draft prospects, could be a good candidate.