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Saturday, June 15, 2013

SDH Presents the 2013 End of Season NBA's Worst to First: 22. Washington Wizards

Overall Win/Loss Record (At Season’s End):  29-53,  third place Southeast Division

At Season’s End:

Team Statistics and League Rank (At Season’s End)

  • Points Scored: 93.2 (28th)
  • Points Allowed: 95.8 (8th)
  • Team FG%: .435 (27th)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .440 (5th)
  • Team FT%: .733 (23rd)
  • Team Three Point FG%: .363 (10th)
  • Rebounds per game: 43.2 (9th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 44.2 (28th)
  • Turnovers per game: 14.6 (24th)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 13.9 (18th)

Individual Statistical Leaders (At Season’s End)

  • Scoring (ppg): John Wall (18.5)
  • Rebounds per game:  Emeka Okafor (8.8)
  • Minutes per game: John Wall (32.7)
  • Assists per game:  John Wall (7.6)
  • Field Goal Percentage: Trevor Booker (.491)
  • Free Throw Percentage:  Martell Webster (.850)  
  • Three Point FG Percentage: Martell Webster (.422)  
  • Steals per game: John Wall (1.3)
  • Blocked Shots per game: Emeka Okafor (1.0)

Taking a Look Back at the Season that Once Was . . .

SDH Worst to First Recap
Time Period
Change (+/-)
At Season’s End
SDH Player of the Year:
John Wall

He missed the first 33 games of the regular season, but upon returning, John Wall showed Wizards fans and the NBA why he was selected first overall in the 2010 NBA Draft.  Before he returned to the lineup, the Wizards had just won five games for the entire; however, once he got back up and running the team's fortunes immediately improved.  With John Wall leading the charge, the Wizards finished January winning six of their last eleven games then continued playing strong into February going 8-5 for that month as well.  The Wizards went from starting with the worst record in regular season to finishing third place--albeit a DISTANT third place--in their division behind the Miami Heat and the Atlanta Hawks.  If he were to have started the season at the opening tip off, Washington could have probably been been in playoff contention; however, that is all speculation at best.        

Despite finishing the 2013 NBA regular season with only 29 wins Wizards head coach Randy Wittman deserves plenty of credit for how he has changed the team's culture from a lazy and clueless team to a more focused, hardworking and cohesive unit.  Although Washington finished with one of the worst records in the league, it also finished among the top ten defensive teams in the NBA as they ranked 8th in the league in points allowed and 5th in opponents' field goal percentage.  In spite of their inability to put the ball in the basket, the Wizards balanced that out by ranking 9th in the league in rebounds per game and only lost by a slim margin of 2.5 points per game.  What the Wizards lacked in talent and firepower they made up for in heart and effort as they continued to fight and battle through the season win or lose.  Most teams would have thrown in the towel after starting the season 4-24, but not the Wizards as they never wavered in the face of adversity and remain together through thick and thin.

Usually there would have been plenty of off the court drama such as internal fighting, conflicts with the coach, and one public relations disaster after another, but not this time.  This season's Washington team maintained its composure, its players kept out of the spotlight and showed great poise, professionalism and maturity even through the toughest of time.  If anybody were to characterize this past regular season for the Washington Wizards, he would she would definitely considered a character building season, something that the team had been so lacking for quite some time.  To think that all it took was a simple purge of the roster and a fresh infusion of veteran maturity to turn this team which had degenerated into a virtual laughing stock, into a model of professionalism and unity.  In spite of the poor regular season finish, head coach Randy Wittman still laid the foundation in which his team will lead the way to a prosperous future.

Much of the Wizards' problems had to do with their poor offensive execution and that could be attributed to the absence of the team's star player and 2010 number one overall draft pick, John Wall.  With Wall sitting out much of the first half of the season, Wittman had a dickens of a job trying to find a player who was capable of bringing the ball past center court, let alone execute their offensive set.  Much of the team's back court consisted of young and inexperienced guard who were more suited to receiving the ball rather than distributing it. Add the fact that the team's primary front court scorer, Nene, was also out of commission for a huge chunk out the season making it even more of a problem to find someone to put the ball in the basket on a consistent basis.  Yet in spite of those dark time, the Wizards continued to now show any sign of wavering even in the most dire of circumstances and maintained their defensive intensity despite being unable to convert on the other side of the floor.

Although their defense did not win them many games, it sure kept the Wizards close enough within striking distance to keep their opponents sweating somewhat.  They even managed to pull of some impressive wins against the "creme de la creme" of the league pulling off surprising upsets against such NBA powerhouses as the Miami Heat (12/4/2012), Oklahoma City Thunder (1/7/2013), Denver Nuggets (1/18/2013), Los Angeles Clippers (2/4/2013) and New York Knicks (2/6/2013).  In fact, among their 29 wins, 16 of them came at the expense of teams that either posted above .500 records or had qualified for the playoffs, and had won 13 of them by convincing margins of ten points or more.  The Wizards may also have finished with the fourth worst record in the league, but keep in mind that the team started the season winning just four games and then finished third place in their division in spite of their rather horrid start.  Such a finish in addition to the poise and effort given by Washington certainly give Wizards fans at least a small bit of satisfaction and hope for the future.  

This off-season will certainly be a crucial one for Washington as John Wall will be eligible for a contract extension thus giving the Wizards plenty of pressure to prove to him that it is worth it for him to stay with the team.  That not only means being able to offer him the most to remain wearing the red and white stripes, but also surrounding him with the talent and sufficient firepower to make a run at the playoff.  He certainly will not want to remain on a team that is headed nowhere, regardless of how much money the Wizards can throw at him, and as it stands right now, the Wizards have been severely lacking in that department.  Fortunately thanks to the low cost, short term and expiring contracts they posses along with the third overall pick in this summers NBA draft, the Wizards certainly have the assets to be a major player in the offseason.  The playoffs may still be quite a ways out of reach, but if Wittman and his Wizards play with the same effort and focus as they did this season, Washington may find itself contending for the post season sooner rather than later.