The Bullets/Wizards franchise has never won a NBA Championship in my lifetime.
The first Bullets player that I remember wearing red, white, and blue is Jeff Malone.
I am 30 years old and can count the number of playoff appearances they've made on one hand.
So while the NBA was on hiatus, I turned to the next best thing...college basketball, because for over 80% of my life the most exciting aspect of the season for the Bullets/Wizards after New Years was the draft lottery and draft. The lottery always presented the potential for my team to get "that player" who could turn my losing team into a winner. With that said, the franchise has only won two of those lottery's over this span and both have come in the 2000's. Winning the 2010 lottery and drafting John Wall is the single most exciting player acquisition the franchise has ever made in my lifetime and has since trumped the day they both traded for Chris Webber and signed rookie Juwan Howard (and that was a GREAT day!)
When I look at the 2011-12 Washington Wizards season I see a huge opportunity for my beloved Wizards to finally be in position transform from a lottery bound 25 win team into an Eastern Conference contender for the next 5-8 years...hopefully 15-20! For me this season is "THE SEASON"!
Why is this season so important? Typically you'll see that after a team draft's a "franchise player", that team only has one more year of being in the lottery (usually towards the back end) before they are somewhere in the playoffs for the next few seasons. Using that logic and checking the landscape of the East, I think it's pretty safe to say that within two years the John Wall lead Wizards will be playing in the postseason, albeit maybe only a 7th or 8th seed.
So, back to this season. This season is in essence a 1/2 marathon sprint, with a 66 game schedule being condensed into a few months. Anybody that's looked at the 2011-12 NBA schedule knows what I mean! This is NOT the year for the Wizards to be focusing on anything other than the development, maturation, and the consequential "Darwinism" of their young prospects.
The Wizards will have 9 players playing on their rookie contracts (assuming they'll bring back N'diaye and sign Mack) this season. Of those 9 players, 7 are former 1st rd picks. This of course is a credit to the front office for fully embracing the "wrecking ball" philosophy in their rebuilding efforts. But now that they've loaded up on prospects, it's time to see who the real players are.
The mandate from ownership and the front office needs to be for the coaching staff to give those 9 players a REAL chance to prove themselves over this 66 game season and have on permanent blinders to their win loss record, "rookie mistakes", and over excitement that typically occurs with young players.
John Wall is the only player currently on the roster that should get over 30 mpg, with the rest staying between 15-25 per game. There's no reason why Rashard Lewis or any other veteran, other than MAYBE Andray Blatche should be getting 25-30 mpg, while Booker, Singleton, Vesely, or Seraphin still have their warmups on. They need to use this season as THE season to see which of those 9 should be in the franchise's long term plans, which aren't, and which positions might be "crowded".
Playing the youth will result most likely in a season without many wins, but hopefully some good old fashioned "moral victories". I'd like to see an energetic, athletic team, that tries and competes every game, but more times than not, a team that just doesn't have the savvy to win the game in the final minutes of the 4th quarter (something quite common amongst young teams).
If this happens, the Wizards will ultimately take their last trip for the next several years to the NBA's draft lottery and that's just peachy to me, especially since this is a year where there is so much talent in the projected lottery class.
If the Wizards can find 6-8 guys on their roster that are "core" Wizards, the lottery will give them a chance to add that missing player to be a part of the mix to ultimately improve them into becoming that contender.
Right now I'm really loving the games of Anthony Davis, Terrence Jones, Terrence Ross, Jeremy Lamb, Jared Sullinger, and Michael Kidd Gilchrist and that's leaving off a few of the big heavy hitters of 2012.