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Top Stories of the Week: The Wizards’ season is still on thin ice

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The Wizards won two of their last three games. But they still aren’t playing very well.

NBA: Orlando Magic at Washington Wizards Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

If I told you that the Wizards would be a .500 team give or take a game last summer, you’d probably agree with me. But if I told you that the Wizards would be 7-14 in early December, with a relatively healtystarting lineup AND with John Wall having a career year, you’d tell me, “That’s a stretch, even though that would be #SoWizards.”

Well, the Wizards have a relatively healthy starting lineup that is one of the best in the NBA based on most statistical measures. John Wall is having a career year. So are Bradley Beal and Otto Porter. But they are 8-13 and remain one of the East’s lower tier teams.

So, let’s go through the week that was:

Wizards continue to play poorly against fellow lower tier teams

So, let’s start with results:

  • The Wizards were losing by double digits to the Brooklyn Nets last Monday, but they came back in the second half to win, 118-113.
  • The very next day, the Wizards were just as sluggish against the Orlando Magic, losing 124-116. John Wall had the night of his life by scoring 52 points -- just to keep the deficit more respectable.
  • And on Thursday, the Wizards defeated the Denver Nuggets in a close 92-85 contest. In many ways, the Wizards did a reverse of what they normally do.

John Wall’s 52 point game means nothing to him or the national media

Wall scored 52 points during Tuesday’s loss to the Orlando Magic on 18 of 31 shooting. The highlights are here.

You would hope that that performance came in a close win to a team like the Golden State Warriors or the Cleveland Cavaliers. But instead, the Wizards lost the game to another team that most don’t expect to make a deep run in the playoffs. Furthermore, Wall had to score 52 points just to keep the Wizards from getting blown out.

There were many takes on the matter last Wednesday. So let’s go through some of them:

Our job is to wake up and just play hard. Before you made it to the NBA or got a college scholarship, you played hard every day to get to where you wanted to. To still be talking about playing hard, that's something that you should be able to do after just waking up. Everybody has a job and they have to go work hard. Our job is to come here and play hard and compete. That's the easiest thing that you should do without any contracts or any money, just come in and play basketball … if I had the answer we wouldn't be in this situation.

  • Jake also elaborated on a narrative some people may have about Wall this season. He has career highs and is playing as well as he ever has individually. Yet, the Wizards are losing twice as many games as they win — mostly due to a number of bad bench signings. Don’t say that Wall’s padding his stats. He’s padding them because there really isn’t any other option to shoulder the load. And to be honest, if Wall could play 48 minutes a game plus overtimes (if necessary) every game, he should. It’s not like Trey Burke, and Marcus Thornton are going to hold the fort when he’s away.
  • Kevin O’Connor of the Ringer declared Wall the “King of the Court” on Wednesday. His performance was certainly worthy of it. O’Connor also mentioned that the Wizards should listen to any trade offers for Wall when they happen, even if time is on their side ... right now.
  • Albert Burneko of Deadspin wrote that Ernie Grunfeld’s personnel decisions wer the reason why the Wizards didn’t win the Magic game despite Wall’s heroics. Knowing how Deadspin is, Burneko holds nothing back as he calls Grunfeld and owner Ted Leonsis a variety of epithets which a number of Wizards fans wouldn’t hesitate calling them.
  • SB Nation NBA’s Tom Ziller wrote another take on the Wizards’ woes without the excessive profanity. They have three good players in Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter. He also states that Marcin Gortat is not a problem and Markieff Morris has become a below average starter. After that ... it’s a dumpster fire.
  • Scott Allen of The Washington Post added this fact: Wall’s 52 point game was the second highest scoring performance in regulation in Wizards franchise history. Former Wizards star Phil Chenier scored 53 points in a 115-102 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on December 6, 1972.

Some Mystics updates

Before resuming with more Wizards links, here’s what’s been going down with the Mystics.

And more Wizards team analysis

Most of the takes are not positive. But in a bad week in a bad season, that is expected.

  • If you ask me who the Wizards’ “Emma Meesseman” is, it’s Otto Porter. He’s super-efficient because he makes the most of his opportunities, and he quietly makes a bigger impact that some people seem to realize and others just never seem to appreciate. Because Porter’s really good in a sneaky-kind-of-way, he’s quietly put himself in line to get a max extension next year from some NBA team.
  • That said, a John Wall - Bradley Beal - Otto Porter core is probably not going to take the Wizards anywhere besides the Treadmill of Mediocrity, at best. Marcus advocates why the Wizards should look into trading him now.
  • wordonthesecret wrote a FanPost that would disagree with Marcus’ point. The Wizards have fallen into a habit of trading players to fix past front office mistakes. If they don’t do that this time, maybe it will force the front office to think differently on roster construction in the short and long term.
  • Jen Smith of Wiz of Awes wrote that despite Bradley Beal’s improved performance this season, he’s still not “max contract” material. I disagree because the “true max” players like Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and especially Stephen Curry have their salaries capped. To be honest, they should earn $50 million a year or more each and it still probably isn’t enough. Also, it’s a bit early for us to see if Beal has “earned it” just yet.
  • Dan Steinberg of The Washington Post writes that the Wizards 7-13 record is about average for franchise standards over the past 20 years. Yikes.

That’s what I have on my plate for this week. If you have another link you’d like to share, feel free to do so in the comments or as a FanPost. Have a great weekend!