When I say the power of 46, what do I mean? I'm talking about 46 wins, as in the number of wins I hope and think the Wizards can get to this season. Why 46? Is it just some arbitrary number? No, but 46 would somewhat sadly represent the most wins that the Washington professional basketball team franchise has had since 1979. 35 years! Also, with the way the Bulls, Raptors, and Nets have been playing, 46 wins or so might be what it takes to secure the 3rd or 4th seed and home-court advantage in the 1st round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs.
Going slightly back in history, The uber-entertaining Wizards of the Gilbert Arenas era never won more than 45 games in a season. In that 2004-2005 season, they went on to win their only playoff series of the era 4-2 against coincidentally the Chicago Bulls before getting swept by the Miami Heat in the 2nd round. So we could reasonably call this the best Wizards/Bullets team in the last 35 years if we can get to at least 46 wins this season, win a playoff series and not get swept in the second round. No doubt, many factors contribute to win totals and the relative strength of the conference(s) now compared to 2005. Therefore, it's very difficult to get into the minutiae of how the current Wizards competition stacks up against that Wizards team competition. Nevertheless, if they meet said criteria, we could at the very least call the 2013-2014 Wizards the most successful team since 1979. 35 years!
Is any of this possible? While I would set 46 wins as the benchmark, I think it's plausible though somewhat unlikely that this team can win more. Look at the remaining 19 games on the Wizards schedule. With the way we've been playing why can't we go at least 13-6 down the home stretch?
The Wizards only play 11 games vs teams legitimately contending for a playoff berth or seeding. That number could dwindle even lower as the season progresses. At the Wizards current season pace they would win about 43 games, but it's worth noting that since dropping to 25-28 the Wizards are 8-2 in their last 10 games with losses coming only to the defending champion Heat and playoff stalwart Memphis. With this team, you can never assume anything so I'm not going to try to. I'm just saying that I believe with the growth of our young dynamic backcourt and perhaps more importantly the veteran leadeship, this Wizards team has turned the corner. I can see a difference in this team in two key ways. 1) Other opponents respect us (See last night, D-Wade playing on the 2nd night of a back-to-back). 2) We don't hope to win, we expect to win (See every game since the All-Star break).
I'm not saying that the Wizards will win at least 46 games and beat Chicago, Toronto or Brooklyn in the 1st round, but it's plausible. Call me crazy, but I think that it's even possible that this Wizards team could spring a second round upset. Indiana and Miama are not unbeatable. Furthermore, with the mix of good young players and veterans that we have, I could totally see us pushing an over-confident Miami or Indiana to a game 6 or 7 in round 2. From there anything could happen. No, I'm not saying we would win, but simply that we have a punchers chance. Sometimes, sports seem so sure, until they're not.
Should Grunfeld be let go? Should Wittman be retained? Should we resign Ariza or let him walk? If we re-sign him, how much? Is Otto Porter ready? How much is Gortat worth? Should we pursue Carmelo? Chris Bosh? Greg Monroe? Will Wall be a true superstar? Is Beal ready to be an All-Star? These are all great questions that must be answered: in the off-season. As the 2013-2014 Wizards prep for their first playoff close-up since 2008, let's all enjoy this season. It could be special.
It could be the best season in...35 years! After all that we as fans have suffered for most of that time period, this much we deserve.