The Washington Wizards are one of the up-and-coming franchises in the NBA. They have a young nucleus that is getting better with every game, a coach in Randy Wittman whose message is beginning to sink in with his young team and, with a potentially strong offseason, the Wizards will be primed for a playoff run in the 2013-14 season.
After a sluggish start to this season, the Wizards are 21-16 in the 37 games John Wall has played in.
Since his return, Wall has had a better grasp on the offense, and the results have shown it.
How the Wizards finish the season will be an indication if they can finally take the next step in 2013-14 and become a contender in the Eastern Conference.
The recent history of the Washington Wizards franchise has been marred by sub-.500 seasons and a plethora of lottery picks. The team has not been to the playoffs since 2008 and has not won more than one postseason series since 1979.
Washington is a football town. But the town is hungry for a successful basketball franchise and if the Wizards can get off to a hot start next year, the fans will follow.
Especially with a talented, young team, an early hot start will be critical next year. Undoubtedly, there will be whispers of high expectations throughout the offseason. If the team can be successful early, they will begin to believe that they belong among the elite of the Eastern Conference
Will the Wizards make the playoffs next season?
The team's success will also hinge on the performance of John Wall. He is the face of basketball in Washington. The Wizards will go as far as he will take them in the 2013-14 season. Washington may sign a free agent or draft an elite college player, but don't be mistaken: This is John Wall’s team.
In Craig Stouffer’s recent article for The Washington Examiner, he talks about how Wall and Wittman are getting on the same page and the Wizards’ recent success is a product of that.
Wall now understands how Wittman wants his offense to be run and what kind of “pace” Wall should use to run the offense. Wall’s understanding of the offense has turned him into a pass-first guard, which has helped facilitate Washington’s recent winning ways.
After the elite teams in the Eastern Conference, the rest of the conference is wide open. There is plenty of opportunity for this team to make a run in the 2013-14 season.
The Wizards are in a unique position. They are poised to become a playoff team, but they also have the ability to improve their team with a high draft pick this summer.
Because of the lottery system, the Wizards' position in the draft will be unknown until a few weeks before the June draft. But it's almost a certainty that they will find themselves in the top-10 with an opportunity to select a prominent player.
This will allow them to select a player who can make an immediate impact.
Unlike the NFL, the NBA does not have the same type of year-to-year volatility in the standings. Very rarely do teams go from worst to first in professional basketball. The Wizards, however, have gone through the process of mixing smart draft picks with necessary acquisitions through free agency. They have slowly improved over the past few years and are poised for a breakout season.
They are building a playoff team. If the Wizards can have a successful offseason, look for them to be playoff-bound in 2013-14.