Editor’s Note: Washington Wizards players were actually interviewed for this story
For the last five seasons, the Washington Wizards have been one of the worst teams in the NBA. Year after year, the Wizards failed to win games and also failed to have players that could contribute. Everything changed in 2014 when the Wizards finished with a 44-38 record, and made it to the playoffs for the first time since the 2007-08 season.
Going into this season, the Wizards were expected to be one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference and maybe taking a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals in May. It’s too early to say the Wizards are going to the Eastern Conference Finals, but right now they are playing like one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.
So far this season, the Wizards are the second best team in the Eastern Conference with a 9-3 record and a 5-1 home record. They are recently coming off of wins against the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Milwaukee Bucks.
John Wall is playing at the top of his game, averaging 19.5 points per game, 9 assists per game, and a league-leading 2.45 steals per game.
The Wizards’ amazing start to the season has caught the league by storm, but what can be the reason for the team’s early season success?
“Defensively, we are playing well,” Wizards guard Garrett Temple said.
In most of the wins this season, the Wizards limited teams to fewer than 100 points. When the team played the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday, the Wizards held Lebron James and company to 78 points.
One thing that is different from this Wizards team than teams in the past is that they are playing with a lot more confidence.
“This season, we have this swagger about us knowing that we can win each game and that gives us the confidence we need,” Wizards guard Bradley Beal said.
The Wizards are getting a lot of help from everyone on the team instead of one or two players. Players like Kris Humphries, Otto Porter Jr., and Kevin Seraphin are putting up good minutes off the bench. Also, the starting five that consists of players like Nene, Marcin Gortat, Wall, and future Hall of Famer Paul Pierce is playing as good as any starting five in the league.
“We have great chemistry,” Gortat said. “Players are playing at the same level.”
Wall credits the team chemistry to being a driving force to the team success.
“We got our chemistry going early and we have a lot of guys getting in double figures.”
There is a huge difference in the Wizards locker room when they have a 9-3 record through 12 games into the season compared to a 4-8 record at this time last season.
“It’s outstanding,” Gortat said. “There are no more team meetings in the locker room. We are having fun and we are on the same pace.”
“We are winning and it’s more fun winning than losing,” Wall said, “Last year, we didn’t let our game reflect our talk. This year we didn’t do too much talking.”
The Wizards are off to a great start, but the biggest test is if they can stay on the success train. In the past, the Wizards have started off the season strong, but struggled in the middle parts of the season.
“We have to limit our mistakes and continue to play team basketball,”Wizards point guard Andre Miller said.
“We have to cut the little things, like talking back to the refs. We have to stay focus,” Gortat said, “That’s going to come with more experience in the league. Hopefully when the big game comes, we will be ready to play.”
The Washington Wizards success is taking the league by storm. They have shown everyone that they are a much improved team than the team that started 0-12 in the 2012 season or the team that finished 19-63 in 2009 season.
If they keep playing the way they are playing right now, they will be a dangerous team to face as the season moves on.
“We need to take one game at a time,” Garrett Temple said, “We have to continue to defend and stay together.”