Silver Linings from Washington Wizards' Roller Coaster Season

Jonathan MunshawCorrespondent IApril 1, 2013

Bradley Beal and John Wall have been two of the best players for the Washington Wizards this season, despite the fact that the team is on track to have its fifth-straight losing season.
Bradley Beal and John Wall have been two of the best players for the Washington Wizards this season, despite the fact that the team is on track to have its fifth-straight losing season.Rob Carr/Getty Images

Some of the woes that Washington has had to endure this year include 46 losses, its star point guard missing the first 33 games of the season, its best draft pick of 2012 in and out of the lineup and losing 28 out of its first 32 games this year.

However, once the injuries subsided and the Wizards finally had a full roster, their season began to turn around. As a result, there are a number of positives Wizards fans should take away from this season. 

Since he missed the first part of the season with injury, John Wall has been undoubtedly the best player for the Wizards. With Wall in the lineup, Washington is 22-18, proving that if he was healthy all year the team could be playoff contenders.

Wall leads the Wizards in points, assists, steals and has 11 double-doubles.

Perhaps most impressive is Wall’s point output this season. He averages 17.3 points per game, which is higher than his totals of 16.3 and 16.4 points per game in the first two seasons of his career.

His field-goal percentage is also up at 44.3 percent, up two percent from the 2011-2012 season.

Despite sitting out a lot of games due to injury, Wall has led been a leading scorer eight games, although only three of those contests turned out to be wins for Washington.

The third-year player’s best game came on March 25 against the Memphis Grizzlies, when he scored a career-high 47 points. Washington ended up winning that game 107-94, and in addition to the points, Wall shot a little less than 80 percent from the floor and tacked on eight assists and seven rebounds.

Even when starting shooting guard Bradley Beal was out of the lineup, Wall took the team over and proved he could be a true leader in the NBA.

When Wall was out of the lineup, Beal was the best player in Washington, giving the team another beacon of hope for the coming years.

Prior to Wall’s return, Beal was leading the team in minutes and points, and with Wall now back in the lineup, the two have made a powerful pairing.

Beal is now averaging 14 points along with over three rebounds per game. The 19-year-old out of Florida also has three double-doubles on the season.

In the first part of the season that Wall missed, Beal had games with point totals of 22, 23 and 24.

Last Sunday night against the Toronto Raptors, Beal hit six out of nine three-pointers to finish with 24 points in a Washington win.

If Beal and Wall can both stay healthy, it will give Washington one of the best young backcourts in the league.

While the youth of the Wizards certainly has been a positive in an otherwise down season, veterans have also stepped up for Washington this year.

The most notable player in this group is Emeka Okafor, who is in his ninth season out of UConn. 

Okafor has proven to be the best defensive player on the team, contributing to Washington’s seventh-best scoring defense in the league.

The 6’10” veteran, who had most recently spent three seasons with the New Orleans Hornets, leads the team in blocks with over one per game and has also averaged nine rebounds per contest, over six of which are on defense.

Okafor has also been capable of putting up some solid points, and has posted totals of 19, 20 and 23 in various games this year.

While Okafor has a player option for next year, it would be wise for Washington to keep him around for a few more seasons as he brings some much-needed experience to a young roster. Before this season, it looked like Okafor was close to fading into irrelevance. Now the Wizards have given him a chance to shine and show he can be a solid defensive player.

While Washington’s record doesn’t show that this season has been all that successful, there have been a number of reasons for Wizards fans to hope.

If veterans like Okafor can keep performing while younger players like Wall and Beal continue to grow, they will be one of the better teams in the NBA in the coming years.