We’re now entering the second half of the 2016-17 NBA season. There’s a lot for the Wizards to be proud of in the last few weeks, and last week was no different. On top of all that, the Mystics could very well get some great news next week. Is Washington, D.C. really becoming a “top tier basketball city” before our eyes?
I don’t have a solid answer to that questions, but maybe this past week’s storylines will help guide you in the right direction one way or another.
The Wizards are en fuego!
The Wizards are 26-20, in striking distance of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. Here’s what went down:
- Last Saturday, the Wizards lost 113-112 to the Pistons on the road. Marcus Morris made a buzzer beating put back shot to give Motown the victory. That said, the Wizards still hung in there for the most part.
- Then last Monday, the Wizards traveled to Charlotte where they beat the Hornets 109-99. Bradley Beal snapped out of a shooting slump as he made four of nine threes in the win.
- On the following day, the Wizards played the Celtics in a game that received a bunch of media buzz due to the teams’ previous spats this season and last. The Wizards won the game, 123-108.
- Finally, the Wizards blew out the Hawks, 112-86 Friday night on the road. It made one Atlanta resident happy.
1) pretty good seats!— Lyndie (@alyndanoel) January 28, 2017
2) seeing more Wiz merch than usual in Phillips which is ✔️
3) John Wall is making granny three point shots in warmup pic.twitter.com/Bzd4hBVZAf
The Wizards and Celtics rivalry is gaining steam!
Before Tuesday’s win, the Wizards decided to wear all black to the game, where they called it a “funeral.” I didn’t exactly like the antics because it set the Wizards up for ridicule if they were to lose.
Fortunately, they won the game so let’s focus on the positives from the win. It was a confidence booster and a moment of team solidarity which Jesse Lyles noted before the game, and Mike Sykes did after.
The Celtics weren’t in this game at all. But that doesn’t mean that their top players had a “we’ll get ‘em next time” mentality. Marcus Smart yelled at assistant coaches toward the end of the game when they wouldn’t let him return. He was so mad that after the game, he punched hole into the wall in the visiting team’s / Mystics locker room — though it wasn’t clear who knew it at the time this tweet was found:
An unknown #Celtics player was quite upset after the loss to the #Wizards. pic.twitter.com/VBtV7wqYjb— gary washburn (@GwashburnGlobe) January 25, 2017
To be fair to Smart, he did take responsibility (kinda) for punching the wall (no pun intended to John.)
The national folks aren’t necessarily calling the Wizards vs. Celtics rivalry a big deal. Matt Ellentuck of SB Nation NBA called the rivalry “petty” and ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith doesn’t think it’s that big of a deal either. I get that this isn’t like Lakers vs. Celtics in the ‘60’s or the current Cavaliers vs. Warriors matchups. But these two teams are both rather young, are well-coached, and are in a similar spot right now as they fight for homecourt advantage in the playoffs.
Elena Delle Donne for Stefanie Dolson and the Mystics’ 2017 WNBA Draft pick?
It isn’t too often when WNBA superstars in their prime are on the trade block. It’s even less often when they’re demanding to play for the Mystics since last year, if not longer.
We knew last December that Chicago Sky forward Elena Delle Donne was thinking about leaving, but we didn’t hear of anything concrete until the weekend. A number of reports around the league state that the Mystics are trying to acquire Delle Donne in exchange for center Stefanie Dolson and the 2nd overall pick in the 2017 Draft. It’s possible that another player — probably Kahleah Copper — will be a sweetener in what should be 2017’s blockbuster deal.
If you think that this is an uneven trade, it is. But the Sky doesn’t have too many options in order to get some value in return for their franchise player. They apparently tried to acquire Emma Meesseman (and perhaps other assets like the 2017 Draft pick) in exchange for Delle Donne, but those talks were shut down.
John Wall’s an All-Star, but no other player is getting love
As you might expect, a player who is averaging 20 points and 10 assists a game should be a All-Star. Wall got the nod on Thursday to be a reserve. It’s his fourth appearance to the midseason classic.
Unfortunately, he is the only Wizards player who made it. Bradley Beal is also having a career year, but missed the cut since ... there were just a ton of great guards in the East. And to make matters somewhat worse, Kelly Oubre wasn’t named to the Rising Stars Challenge.
It’s a bit frustrating that other players haven’t received honors like Wall has this season. But there’s a silver lining to this.
The Wizards are getting much more national attention
When a team turns around a 2-8 start to a 25-20 record overall with a 14 home game winning streak, that’s impressive. People are going to pay attention.
The same Stephen A. Smith who criticized the Wizards vs. Celtics rivalry also gave Wall praise on his satellite radio show Thursday afternoon. In fact, Smith said he was “sick and tired” of Wall not getting enough national attention before interviewing the All-Star.
Wall was also on TNT’s pregame show Thursday night where he said that the Wizards can make the Eastern Conference Finals this season. You can watch a video below, and read more from Scott Allen of the Washington Post here.
.@JohnWall joined the TNT pregame show to talk road to recovery, making the @NBAAllStar team and today's fashion! pic.twitter.com/S7yoVu3vWb— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) January 27, 2017
And finally, we have another game on TNT! The Cavaliers game on February 6 has been flexed in, while the Lakers and Knicks game was flexed out.
Hopefully, the good vibes stay that way for awhile.
- Write in John Wall’s name so Ben’s Chili Bowl will nominate him to go on its new mural in the U Street Corridor!
- We had two FanPosts by Garrett Shaffer and Deeman18 complimenting Brooks’ coaching.
And more pieces!
- Chris Herring of FiveThirtyEight has this piece on how Otto Porter’s shooting has become a major indicator on whether the Wizards win games or not.
- Candace Buckner of The Washington Post wrote about Scott Brooks keeping his resolve through early season adversity. In November, some folks wanted him fired. Now, Brooks is a dark horse candidate for Coach of the Year.
- Buckner also revealed something about John Wall that we didn’t know about earlier: He was supposed to be limited in back-to-backs until about now. I’m glad that he played at full strength earlier without getting injured.
- Rajan Nanavati of Hail To The District wrote a “mea culpa” regarding his pessimism of the Wizards earlier this season.
- Tony East wrote on four options the Wizards have in order to address Otto Porter’s restricted free agency. There isn’t exactly an ideal option...
- Jason Smith has improved a lot over the past month. It may be because he used flotation therapy.
And that’s it for this week! If you have another link you’d like to share, feel free to do so in the comments or in a FanPost. Enjoy the rest of this weekend!