Hoops Critic: Seems like the All Star Break came at a good time for the Wizards (they’ve stumbled a bit after a fantastic start, losing 8 of their last 12 pre-break, Beal missing games with that leg injury). What’s your general feel for the team’s attitude? On a scale of 1 to 10, what’s your level of concern about the team right now?
(JW): Honestly, I could argue a "1" here. The Wizards have become exactly what we anticipated they’d be at the start of the season: a respectable playoff team in the East that’s just a shade below the conference’s upper-tier. Yes, they’ve struggled a bit as of late, but a big part of that is just regressing to the mean after an easy schedule to start the season. When you zoom out and take the long view, the Wizards are right where we expected them to be.
Still, it’s not all about the results either. Even though the Wizards are right where people expected, it’s mostly because John Wall took a bigger leap this season than anyone could have hoped for or expected. His growth has masked Bradley Beal’s stagnation, Otto Porter still not quite living up to expectations (though he’s looked MUCH better this season) and the overall struggles of the team to generate offense not centered around Wall. Plus, the recent slumps have led to a bit of finger pointing that can fester and lead to bigger issues if the team can’t sort it out. With all that in mind, I’ll say a "3".I talked with James H at Hoops Critic (who you may remember from this Christmas miracle) about the Wizards' struggles recently. Admittedly, I did this Q&A at the beginning of the Wizards' six-game slide, but at the end of the day, the core of this answer still rings true. The issues the Wizards faced during the slide were the same ones they faced before the slide and the same ones they will continue to face moving forward. It's only worth panicking over if you thought the Wizards had a shot at winning the East this year. You can check out the full Q&A here.