From the not-breaking news department: the Wizards improved mightily after a 4-28 start to the season. Their 25-25 record over the final 50 games is proof.
Here is more: Starting on January 7 - the game before John Wall's return - Bradley Beal's buzzer-beating floater shocked the Thunder. Including that triumph, Washington went 15-12 against eventual playoff teams plus those still battling for an NBA title (Knicks, Pacers, Bulls, Grizzlies).
That winning record includes five losses during the closing 0-6 stretch when the Wizards played on without the injured Beal and for stretches minus Nene, Trevor Ariza, Martell Webster and Emeka Okafor.
"With a healthy roster, I think we played 22 games, and those were an amazing 22 games, a scary team," Webster said. "Around that time when we got guys back and healthy, I honestly believed we were must-see TV. I mean teams that were high in the playoff races early on in the season, if guys were down, they’d bring guys back to play against us because they couldn’t lose to us. That was just a level of respect that we enjoyed because we knew we were going to get the best out of teams."
The Wizards finished with wins over 13 of the 16 playoffs teams, missing only the Celtics in the East. However, far too often Washington did not show its best against those not headed to the postseason. During the final 50 games, the Wizards went 10-13 against including losses to the Magic and Bobcats, owners of the NBA's worst regular season records.
"That left a bad taste in my mouth," Webster said. "But it was easy to get up for those games against those championship teams."
Again, talking about beating the best, but losing to the worst is hardly new territory. What is new? Watching the NBA playoffs for the first time since a healthy Gilbert Arenas roamed these parts and imagining the Wizards as a legitimate participant. Those victories made such dreaming possible. Not necessarily winning a seven-game series against the likes of the Heat or Spurs type of imagination, but certainly against say the Hawks and Bucks, two Eastern Conference teams expected to take a step back or two next season. Assorted others squads as well and if breaks go their way, maybe even against some teams still alive.
Staying healthy for once would help. Showing the consistency of effort by defeating those draft lottery contenders would as well.
"For us, it just came down to being resilient the whole year," Webster said about the turnaround. "I think that was fun. I think everybody else enjoyed it. But in this league,...you have to stay healthy; the most important thing is keeping your body healthy. Injuries are inevitable, but you have to work through them, and I think that did OK. We could’ve done a hell of a lot better this year with the guys being down and the guys stepping up."