The 'what if' Wizards

The 'what if' Wizards
February 9, 2013, 1:00 pm
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What if Wall had been healthy all season?

Let me start with an incredibly obvious: the Wizards have improved - dramatically - over the course of the season. Their recent resume - winning eight of nine games at home including victories this week over the Clippers, Knicks and Nets - is one any NBA team would covet.

It also begs the question, what if. Following Friday's decisive 89-74 victory over Brooklyn - Washington's third straight win - inquiring minds asked the players if "what if" crossed their minds.

“I think we would be in the top four of the East," Chris Singleton said. "I really do feel confident in this team and over the last week it shows that if we continue to play together, anything can happen.”

Because John Wall missed 33 games happened, because other key players also happened to miss time injuries, because several winning opportunities vanished, 4-28 happened. After defeating the Nets, Washington sits 9.5 games out of the playoffs.

"It's tough to look at the standings because we let so many games get away from us," Singleton said. "Looking at the standings, it hurts."

Unlike Singleton, Bradley Beal skips seeking positional updates altogether.

"I haven't even looked at them. I don't even know what our record is to be honest with you," the 19-year old said after playing for the first time in six games.

Beal added, ''Our record should be backwards, whatever it is.''

Well Bradley, it is 13-35. Reverse the record and the Wizards would be sitting atop the Eastern Conference. No reality suggests even with Wall and Nene at full strength from opening night this could have happened. However, better than their current 12th place slot and closer to a playoff berth, seems logical.

Washington is 9-7 since Wall returned on Jan. 12. Whether the turnaround credit goes to point guard's playmaking presence or finally having a healthy squad or remaining committed on the defensive end all season, the turnaround has happened.

"I think everybody knows, I think every team knows what team we would have been like because we're showing things now," Wall said.

Those familiar with the Wizards have indeed taken notice.

"That's a good team that's coming together," said Nets forward Andray Blatche, who spent the previous seven seasons with the Wizards. "With John Wall in the lineup, makes a huge difference. It's shown last couple of weeks"

Washington next shows what it can do Monday in Milwaukee and Wednesday at Detroit before winding down for the All-Star weekend. Following the break, the Wizards play six of seven at the Verizon Center. Considering their recent home record, the "what if" chatter could reach another level later this month.

Of course dwelling on coulda, shoulda, woulda will not help the cause over the final 34 games. The Wizards' owner recently stated he would like to see the team finish with at least a .500 record over the rest of the season. As far as goals go and factoring in how the season begun, such a mark would be rather impressive.

Wall has his sights set higher, speeding past "what if" like a stuck in the mud defender trying to stop him in the open court. Rather, the face of the franchise is zooming toward a different question: why not.

“I feel like we could be in a playoff spot right now," Wall said. "You don’t give up on a season this early.”