With LeBron James now playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, the Eastern conference is virtually wide open, outside of the Boston Celtics. John Wall is confident that the Washington Wizards will be in the spotlight to represent the East in the NBA Finals according to NBA.com.
Last season the Wizards finished 8th and lost in 7 games versus the Toronto Raptors. In 2016 the Wizards were 4th and the inconsistency of this team has been an on-going issue. Losing Wall for 27 games was tough, although they managed to stay above .500, with a 15-12 record. The Wizards cut ties with Marcin Gortat by trading him for guard Austin Rivers, acquired free agent Jeff Green and reports have indicated Dwight Howard will be a Wizard once he reaches a buyout agreement with the Brooklyn Nets.
These are solid pieces to help this team, but is it enough. You’d think Wall and Bradley Beal can get it done but that hasn’t been their luck since the two have been in the league. Otto Porter Jr and Kelly Oubre Jr. will be back and offer points in flurries and are solid defenders. Wall has every reason to be confident in this new roster, no disrespect to Tomas Satoransky but I don’t think he was the answer to the backup duties. Rivers has a chance to prove himself worthy and I think ultimately he will.
Wall was interviewed on Tipoff podcast on NBCSportsWashington.com and this is where he mentioned the offseason moves and potential for the 2018-19 season.
“Just with the starters coming back, those guys (the bench) — hopefully everybody will come back healthy and in better shape — we can focus and understand what we want to be,” Wall said on the podcast. “It’s a good opportunity where (the starters) won’t have to play as many minutes … that’s the key. At the end of the year, you’re kind of fall short because you’re fatigued — and nobody uses that as an excuse, you play and you try to get in the best shape possible. But when you play 24 minutes of the whole [first] half and 24 minutes of whole other half, you kind of get tired at some point. I think those guys can take a little of the burden and pressure off us sometimes.”
Wall added how Howard can help this team as well.
“I just feel like he’s just that’s trying to recreate his career. He’s trying to change all the negative stuff people say about him,” Wall said. “We know he likes to have fun, we know he likes to joke around and do those type of things. I think he’s kind of locked-in and focused [now]. All we can do as teammates and a coaching staff and as an organization is try to make it comfortable for him and make him he’s welcome, at home, and tell him the things we need him to do for our team to make us get better. He has to buy into that and not try to say it’s all about him or try and do this for himself. You do this for the whole team and I think we’ll be fine.”
Howard had a solid season with the Charlotte Hornets, 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds in his 14th season, and like Wall, I believe there’s more in the tank for the big fella. This is pretty good news, the Wizards are looking to make a push, the biggest question is will they be in the conversation come May. The East is open and the Wizards have a shot, let’s see how well they play this season.