Judging the Wizards season that is, not 'could have been'

Rob Carr

For every complex problem, there is a solution simple, neat and wrong.

The Washington Wizards are not chasing 32-50; that's .500 ball following the return of John Wall. This team is 5-2 in thrilling fashion since Bradley Beal's buzzer-beater against the Thunder and has mentioned the playoffs but they'll have to be elite down the stretch to sniff .500 on the season. But splitting the remainining contests this year would be amazing for fans starving for wins and watchability.

Whatever the result, resisting a look on the bright-side of a glass half-full with a short memory is what I'm concerned with today.

Mike wrote earlier this week on keeping perspective as the wins go to our head like a bottle of cheap wine after six months in a monastery. Remember, .500 ball was something of an expectation following the Okariza trade and many of us weren't happy about it. It is the height of irresponsibility to suggest the Wizards would be sitting around .500 or better right now had Wall been healthy. That ignores the arc of Beal's development while integrating new players and concepts under Randy Wittman. That suggests John Wall had no benefit from his time off the court the same way other fans might suggest Blake Griffin had no benefit from his year on the sidelines.

All of this is self-evident, so why bother to say it at all? Consider it pre-emptive anti-spin spurred by a recent edition of Ted's Take. Several things concern me about this submission from our favorite team's owner:

  • Can you say strawman? Hardcore fans were concerned about Bradley Beal's tepid early season shooting which mirrored struggles at Florida, but there was no torrent of negative pixels embroiling his media narrative. Both fans and media are prepared to be patient with Beal's development.
  • This neatly sidestepped the same questions about other Wizards youngsters, one of whom has had the worst of the negative pixels.
  • It's a little early to declare victory when it comes to Bradley Beal. Fans are thrilled at his recent production. While it portends only good things, Wizards fans have found over and over not to count their chickens before they hatch.
  • Fans have been curious how accountable Ted will hold upper management for the way the season started. Things like this do not bode particularly well.

Let's take a look at the other side. There hasn't been much to crow about this season and Ted's Take is a blog for a guy who has to take a lot of negativity from disappointed fans. The season has been a trainwreck up until the last few weeks. The team is finally coming together and looks like what the guy envisioned when he talked about planning to be GOOD, and maybe better than he even hoped.

Considering the injuries the team has sustained, the Wizards find themselves near the best case scenario of the Okariza trade, as well. Both Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor are contributing meaningful minutes, (by all appearances) are solid presences in the locker room and are somewhat marginal trade assets.

But the point is that there is little place for quick and easy conclusions when it comes to judging this season's progress.

It is a tough thing to take the measure of a rebuild with so many moving parts and few fans doubt Ted's response will be to avoid the decision and let it ride while continuing to swallow the pain of Andray Blatche's amnesty. When you decide your opinion of the season, take the whole season and attendant history into account. Hopefully this season's edition of organizational transparency shows us what the Wizards consider germane to their year-end evaluations and that fans can respect their choices.

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