The Washington Wizards have once again found themselves in the NBA draft lottery despite their best efforts at building a true franchise. Team captain John Wall is entering his fourth—and possibly last—season with the Wizards. Washington’s success this season will dictate the future of the franchise; if they can make the playoffs, they will be able to keep their star point guard.
While the former first overall pick has failed to bring his team to the playoffs, his play last season after returning from injury could foreshadow future achievements for the Wizards.
Wall missed the first 33 games of the season and the Wizards played absolutely horrendously, garnering a 5-28 record. Wall was able to pick up the pieces, however, leading the Wizards to a 24-25 record upon his return.
Not only did Wall improve the team upon his return, he also improved his offensive efficiency. Although he averaged a career low 32.7 minutes per game, Wall actually improved both his field goal percentage and points per game to career highs, .441 and 18.5, respectively.
Wall and 2012 first round pick Bradley Beal have proven to be a solid, young core. The Wizards were hinting at a breakout season before Beal came down with an unfortunate fracture in his leg. Beal’s amazing jump shot provides the perfect complement to Wall’s drive-and-dish game.
In all three plays in the video, Wall was able to occupy the wing defenders with his effective drives to the basket. He then was able to use his incredible vision to find the open Bradley Beal, who is not only able to find the open spot, but also hit the open three pointer.
After Wall finally returned from injury, it was clear that the young duo was ready to make an impact on the NBA. Their emergence as one of the best young backcourts in the league gave hope to the Wizards franchise.
However, their season was once again derailed by injuries when Beal came down with a fracture in his leg.
The Wizards main goal this season must be to stay healthy. It’s clear that without Wall or Beal, this team will never quite live up to full expectations.
The 2013 NBA draft may not have any true gamechangers, but the Wizards don’t need one.
Washington has the ability to develop a very young core around Wall, Beal and whomever their third overall pick may be—Anthony Bennett or Otto Porter would be perfect fits. The Wizards need a third scoring option to relieve Wall and Beal of at least some of the focus that defenses put on them each and every night.
If the Wizards can’t stay healthy or waste their third overall draft pick—very much a possibility with the unbelievably long tenured Ernie Grunfeld at the helm—the future will be very bleak.
If management can’t put together a young and formidable core for Wall to work with, expect him to flee the cursed Wizards. But even as a fan, who would blame him? If in four years you can’t take a team to the playoffs as the "star," it will be clear that it is time to move on.
But if Grunfeld and his staff can hit on a second straight draft pick, the dynamic backcourt can stay healthy and the veteran frontcourt can remain consistent, the Wizards will have a bright future. Wall will likely re-sign after a playoff run, solidifying success for the near future.
*All stats are from ESPN.com