As we know, John Wall has promised that he will lead the Wizards to the playoffs in the 2011-2012 season. Even if it was a spur of the moment, not so well thought out statement, I am pretty sure Wall plans on following through with it. We get another glimpse at his competitive nature when he says things like how he can't wait to show Derrick Rose and Russel Westbrook who is boss next year. Another extremely confident comment he plans on backing up, no doubt.
As fans, we obviously want to see our team win. But what would we be sacrificing by actually making the Playoffs next year? Let's take a look at the positives and negatives that would come out of our young squad shocking many and making the playoffs next season, and see if success outweighs the benefits of being a bad team... After the jump.
The positives of the Wizards making the playoffs next year: The obvious one here is that if our team manages to win enough games to make the playoffs, that means our young players are way ahead of the curve. If we do make the playoffs, it will probably mean that John Wall took a MAJOR leap and likely carried the team, and that the supporting cast is at least coming around very well. Another positive would be that Wall was able to back up a very bold promise. That would give the guy a lot of stock with his teammates, and around the league, as one heck of a leader. A fear all of us fans of an unsuccessful team with a young superstar have is that he is looking for a one-way ticket outta here, ASAP. Having a (relatively) successful team, year 2 of Wall's tenure, would probably be very reassuring to Wall, and to us fans, that this team is on the fast track to success. Here is another one, what if we make the playoffs and Dwight Howard sees us having some success? And he decides that he could be the guy that makes us a championship contender. This applies for all Free Agents in the future too, not only Dwight. I don't want to get much more hypothetical in my assumptions of the effect of a playoff berth would have next year, but feel free to contribute something I left out. Ohh yeah, there is also always that 1% chance that we string together four games and destroy the 'terrific' trio from Miami in a playoff series.
Now on to the negatives... it should not be that easy to find positives in your favorite team losing, but really, it is pretty easy. Next year's draft class, barring everyone and their brother sticking around to further there education(like Sullinger, Barnes, and the two Jones's did this past year), is STACKED***. If we land anywhere in the top 3 of next year's draft, we likely end up with Harrison Barnes, Andre Drummond, or Anthony Davis. Those three guys are probably the three clear-cut Tier 1 players right now. Then there are the players that would probably have made the top tier of the 2011 draft, right alongside Kyrie Irving. Jarred Sullinger, Perry Jones, Wall's highschool buddy Quincy Miller, Micheal Gilchrist, and Austin Rivers could all be major contributors to an NBA team, very soon. Most of these players could probably make their way into our first tier just as soon as any of them could drop off of our radar all together. The point here is that if we land anywhere in the top 8 of next year's draft, we will be landing one heck of a basketball player.
But obviously, you can't get a top 8 pick in the draft AND make the playoffs. And as much as John Wall would like to make his team a winning one next year, he might like even more to have a guy like Andre Drummond banging down low for him for the next decade, or have Harrison Barnes solidifying the 3 spot for the long-term. But in the meantime though, that means he will not live up to his promise. It means Wall will have to suffer at least one more year of lots of losing, and maybe a year after that, dealing with the growing pains of the young guys learning their way in the league.
So the cost of winning next year could be missing out on a very strong prospect, and stunting the long-term success of the team. But the draft, even a high-lottery pick, is no sure fire thing. And it is hard to cheer for you team to lose anyway, as we saw at the end of last year. Maybe it would be best to just get the winning started this year, and enjoy the ride.
So let me ask this, do we want our team to squeak into the playoffs next year, likely getting bounced in the first round? Or would we rather suffer one more year and land a high lottery pick in next year's draft?
***Obviously, the draft stock of the prospects listed will rise and fall throughout the season. And your opinions on the prospects as of right now might be different than my not so educated one. But hey, if you want to talk draft, have at it.