A buddy of mine messaged me on G-chat yesterday and after several tangents we somehow ended up talking about the WNBA Draft. To be fair, the conversation did start off talking about Elena Delle Donne for reasons not exactly pertinent to basketball (:D), but we noticed something that dovetails with all things related to D.C. hoops: there were 3 stud picks coming out of college this year in Brittney Griner, Elena Delle Donne, and Skylar Diggins...the Washington Mystics, of course, had the #4 pick. The feeling upon realizing this was one of concession – a depressing feeling similar to when I used to ask myself whether I had enough in the tank to challenge my now ex-girlfriend’s selection of Keeping Up With the Kardashians as the entertainment during dinner, or if I should just save us the trouble and eat my meal in silence while counting how many times Bruce Jenner was disrespected and displayed his lack of cojones. Please basketball gods - can this city catch a damn break?
As I’ve gone around the blogosphere and read up on the Wizards’ season evaluations, one word seems to have constantly resonated not just now, but throughout the whole season: potential. Since we landed John Wall up till now with Bradley Beal, it’s always been about how good we could eventually be, as if there’s just a couple things our front office needs to do or some time that we need to give for some of our players to make a cartoon-like transformation into a beast of a force. As convincing as they might be looking ahead towards next season, forget PER, power rankings, trends, all of that…because for many other reasons, it exasperatingly feels like the Wizards will always be a team stuck on the 'potential' gear.
As a fan, I look around the league and see owners and GMs like Mark Cuban and Sam Presti, who may have at times not made all the right moves (hindsight is always 20/20), but it’s clear that they care about their team and about winning. Whether it’s using advanced analytics and making a ballsy move like shipping off James Harden for Kevin Martin, which we can see clearly didn’t hurt much as OKC will end up with the #1 seed in the West, or going above and beyond to show you’re involved in almost every way, it’s a mentality that seems to be plain absent in D.C. The Spurs just signed Tracy McGrady for the playoffs, the Lakers signed Andrew ‘Mini-Mamba’ Goudelock from the D-League, and Miami signed Chris Andersen…not to say any that these moves would have been right for the Wizards, but does the front office just not realize the possibilities and go after them? Do Randy Wittman’s highly questionable 5-man rotations and minute allocations go unnoticed? How could we mess up the way we did with the Jan Vesely pick and the James Harden trade? Despite PER favoring big men, HOW DOES JAVALE MCGEE HAVE A 20.9 PER, TIED WITH THE HIGHEST ON OUR TEAM BY JOHN WALL?! The front office can’t possibly be looking at these things and be saying ‘Oh, why didn’t we think of that?’ or ‘Why didn’t we fix this sooner?’
It's been awhile.
Looking at this depressing draft class, I almost wish we would trade whatever picks we have for a high first round pick next year and go after some of the studs that will most likely enter then (Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, etc.). For now, pick up a couple known-name sharp shooters for Wall to feed and Beal to share the load with…find a coach that can groom players and an offense…pick up a defensive specialist to shut down the best opponent perimeter player…put in a vocal veteran in the locker room for players to look up to and follow…these are basic things that I feel are obvious to us fans, but unfortunately aren’t in any realm of thought with Ted Leonsis and staff. Looking in, it seems like it's more of a business to them than a basketball team.
Maybe I’m being a bit harsh, especially after seeing how much better the team was after Wall came back from his injury. Bradley Beal also definitely started to look a lot more comfortable in his role towards the second half of the season. But despite our success, it’s clear that there are basic changes that can and need to be made during this summer.
"Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane." – Morgan Freeman as Red, Shawhank Redemption
We all know our team has potential - it’s now time to make moves that will unleash it over the next two seasons. We can't afford to slack off now with Wall and Beal seemingly ready to make a significant impact next year. We have got to upgrade as a team, as a franchise...before we go insane.