If you follow basketball, which I’ll assume you do if you’re reading an obscure blog about the Washington Wizards, you know the importance of the stretch run heading into the playoffs. For those teams still in the playoff hunt, be it the teams battling for the 8th spot or the favorites tooling up for a title run, these next few weeks are very important.
For the teams on the outside of the playoff race, the lottery-bound teams, the weeks leading up to the end of the regular season are just as important. These teams need to gauge their talent, they need to find out which players are worth investing in, and which players aren’t. The Wizards are a different team following their bold deadline moves. Now it’s time to see where they’ll go from here.
The trade deadline came and went, the Wizards made some surprising moves. Not surprising in who the Wiz shipped out of town, but rather for who we brought in to the fold. Granted, trading JaVale McGee (and Nick Young) may, and for long-time Wizards/Bullets fans we know it probably will, come back to haunt us, but it was a move we had to make. McGee (and Young) had worn out his welcome in D.C. He’d become one of the clowns of the NBA, and for a team trying to move towards legitimacy the Wiz had no choice but to take the best available offer.
Nene (Hilario) is somewhat of a mystery to anyone outside of the Denver area. The 29 year old Brazilian spent the first ten years of his career in the mile-high city, now with the Wizards following the McGee swap it’s time to see what Nene can bring to the table.
If last night’s game against the Nets is any indication of what kind of hustle and skill Nene can bring, Wiz fans will learn to love him very quickly. In a game mired by poor officiating (mostly in the Wizards favor), Nene scored 22 and grabbed 10 rebounds, a solid first game for the new center. Most importantly: the Wizards actually won the game 108-89.
The Nets lost their head coach (Avery Johnson) and leading scorer (Deron Williams) in the third quarter, probably should have mentioned that, as they were both ejected for arguing a non-call. Without Williams the Nets were unable to put any consistent scoring together and the Wizards took full advantage.
John Wall had a low scoring night, only 12 points, but he added 8 assists and 5 boards. Jordan Crawford, the last remaining gunner on the Wiz now that Nick Young was sent packing, scored a game high 23 to lead the Wizards.
The Wizards are young, but they’ve shown progress as the season has gone on. These last weeks of the season will be important for players like Chris Singleton and Jan Vesely, both of whom are still trying to find their games. Trevor Booker and Jordan Crawford want to prove to the Wiz front office that they can contribute to a winning team next season. And Nene is out to prove to everyone, the Nuggets and Wizards, that he can still ball.
The end of the season for a non-playoff squad isn’t always glamorous, but for these Wizards it’s incredibly important.
About the Author
Written by Frank Sullivan
Frank is a graduate of Old Dominion University, sports fan, author, and founder of TheBloosh.com. He's been working with prosportsblogging.com since April 2011, and has covered the Chicago Bulls, Baltimore Ravens, Virginia Tech Hokies Football, and the Washington Wizards. Frank can be reached @franksullivan on twitter.