5 Holiday Wishes for the Washington Wizards
With a sub-.500 record, the Wizards probably should be pouting heading into the holidays, especially given how terrible the Eastern Conference is this season.
But Wall and Bradley Beal have been playing so well that teams will want to watch out for this team in 2014.
The Wizards are coming off two consecutive road victories (both in the state of New York, against the Knicks and the Nets) but are still at just 11-13 due to a four-game losing streak that started off the month of December.
As Washington's roster becomes healthy again, it's time for fans to start wishing on a star to get the Wizards into the postseason.
If the Wizards want to make a mark on this NBA season, these five holiday wishes need to become reality in 2014. The title of third-best team is up for grabs in the East for the remainder of the season.
Note: All statistics used are as of Thursday night.
Marcin Gortat Will Stop Bringing Up His Role in the Offense
Washington's new center recently made headlines for all the wrong reasons when he complained about his role in the offense.
"I just don't like the position I play. I'm constantly drifting more and more away from the basket. Quite honestly, that's not my game. I'm capable of making or two plays like that but I feel more comfortable underneath the basket," Gortat said after Washington's loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, according to CSN Washington's J. Michael.
Gortat does bring up a good point, however. He is only taking 50.9 percent of his shots from under the basket this season, which is considerably lower than the 57.8 percent he attempted last year with the Phoenix Suns, according to Vorped.
But with Nene in and out of the lineup with various injuries, Gortat is going to have to get used to playing a little farther away from the basket. When Nene is in the lineup, Gortat can play closer to the hoop while Nene plays back in the paint.
After the Clippers game, Gortat also expressed discontent with the overall play of the team.
"You could see there's a difference between the teams, the way they talk to each other, the way they communicate, just basically the rule of winning," Gortat said, according to ESPN.
I wish Gortat would keep any concerns he has about his role in the locker room and out of the media. He should look at his nine double-doubles and be happy with his role in the offense.
The Wizards Will Continue to Get (and Stay) Healthy
Nene. Glen Rice Jr. Al Harrington. Bradley Beal. Chris Singleton. Otto Porter Jr. Trevor Ariza.
These are players who have missed (or are currently missing) time for the Wizards. Nene has already missed six games, and the Wizards have only won one of those games.
Al Harrington will be out until January with a knee injury, Beal just got back from missing nine games, and Ariza, who has been one of Washington's best shooters, missed five games in November.
Yes, injuries are a problem for every NBA team. But for the Wizards, injuries seem to be a common theme this year.
Harrington was supposed to bring a new dimension to the Wizards offense, and Wall and Beal need to be on the floor together for Washington to be a legitimate playoff team.
I wish the Wizards would keep the injuries to a minimum in 2014 and that the bench players would find a way to pull through when injuries do happen.
Otto Porter Jr. Will Not Turn out to Be a Bust
The play of Otto Porter Jr. this season has been...concerning, to say the least.
It's too early to say that drafting him with the No. 3 overall pick in the NBA draft was a bad move, but the numbers so far do not look promising.
In five games, Porter is shooting 18.2 percent from the floor, making only two of the 11 shots he's attempted in five games.
Stack that up against his 30 percent field-goal percentage in three Summer League games, and you've officially inked Porter's name on the naughty list this holiday season.
Porter was brought in to at least be the sixth man on this team, but he's being outplayed by Glen Rice Jr., who was taken a whole round after him.
Team president Ernie Grunfeld and I both hope Porter turns it around in 2014 and at least becomes a quality bench player for the Wizards by season's end.
John Wall Will Play More Consistently
This isn't to say John Wall isn't the MVP of the Wizards this season (He is.), but he needs to be more consistent.
During a four-game stretch between Dec. 2 and 13, Wall shot a combined 35.4 percent from the floor, compared to 51 percent in his last three games.
Despite currently averaging the second-most assists in the league, Wall has had seven games of sub-30 percent shooting, and he is only shooting 21.88 percent in the paint, according to NBA stats.
If Wall wants to be in the conversation for the All-Star Game, he needs to find his shot and not have games of 25 percent shooting.
Kyrie Irving has only fallen below 30 percent shooting in four games this season, and it's only happened to Brandon Jennings three times. (Both men are potential candidates to compete with Wall for Eastern Conference All-Star spots).
Wall's inconsistent performance is partly due to the large number of injuries on the Wizards and Wall having to take on a larger offensive role, but if the Wizards want to make any sort of noise in the playoffs, they can't afford off nights from him.
I wish Wall would take smarter shots and become a more consistent player as the season goes on.
Washington Won't Abandon the Three-Pointer
Although the Wizards made a name for themselves in the second half of last season by putting emphasis on their defense, they seem to be doing just fine by relying on the three-point shot.
Washington is fourth in the league in three-point percentage and ninth in three-pointers made per game.
The Wizards also have three players (Bradley Beal, Martell Webster and Trevor Ariza) ranked in the top 12 in terms of threes made per game.
Five Wizards are shooting over 40 percent from behind the arc, and it is paying off in wins.
Washington is 8-1 in games when it shoots over 40 percent from three this year and 3-12 in games when it does not, according to Kevin Chroust of Yahoo! Sports.
Any time the Wizards need a big three, Beal, Ariza or Webster seems to be in the corner waiting to get the kick-out pass.
Relying on the three hasn't made Washington a worse defensive team, either; it is ranked 14th in the league in scoring defense.
I wish the Wizards would continue to play small ball (especially when Al Harrington returns) and finish in the top five in the NBA in three-point shooting.