By ZAHID KHAN
Throughout recent years, basketball success around Washington D.C. has been somewhat non-existent. The Washington Redskins and Nationals both have had a surge in success in the past seasons, and the Capitals are coming off 5 back to back division championships, leaving the Wizards the odd team out. “I felt like the Wizards are the only team in the area that hasn’t had success in recent years, but this year we have a chance to have a breakthrough season,” said junior Elmi Salad.
The Wizards have failed to make the playoffs since the 2007-2008 season when they finished 43-39, since then, it has been one rebuilding process after another. The Wizards went on to have dramatic fall in the 2008-2009 season with a record of 19-63 and then 26-56 the following year. With this downfall, the Wizards needed new hope. In the summer of 2010, the Wizards selected John Wall with the first overall pick, and basketball fans around the area had high hopes for the 2010-2011 season, but saw little improvement.
The Wizards continued to struggle for years to come even though they surrounded John Wall with more talent. The Wizards would also go on to draft Bradley Beal in 2012 and then Otto Porter Jr. in the 2013 draft. This season, with nearly everyone healthy, the Wizards were done with being a bottom feeder team. The Wizards started the season slow with a record of 2-7, but have made a vicious comeback to put the team at .500 with a record of 9-9.
The Wizards bounced back defeating the New York Knicks in the return of Beal, Beal would go on to score 21 points and 7 rebounds. The return of Beal provided a spark for the Wizards as they would go on to win 5 of their last 6 games of December. “When everyone on the Wizards is healthy they can be beat almost team in the NBA,” said Salad
The highlight of the season prior to the All-star break was when the Wizards upset the back to back champions the Miami Heat. In a sold-out crowd, the Wizards rose to the occasion shocking NBA fans around the league as they led 43-18 at the end of the first quarter. The Wizards would expand their lead to 34 eight minutes into the second quarter. “If John Wall continues to lead the Wizards like this, the Wizards will be a playoff contender for sure,” said junior Matthew Guevara. Wall led the team with 25 points and 9 assists while Beal and Nene scored 19 apiece.
The Wizards would bounce back beating the Golden State Warriors and upsetting the thriving Oklahoma City Thunder. The Wizards would have a milestone game against the Portland Trail Blazers, even though the Wizards were the heavy underdogs they would overcome adversity and pull away in the 3rd quarter. Although the Blazers would attempt a comeback, the Wizards would hang on to win 100-90 to put their record above .500 for the first time since Oct 31st, 2009. In an all-out team effort the Wizards were led by Wall’s 22 points and Ariza’s 20. “Finally the Wizards were able to get above .500, now the curse is over and the Wizards can have a fresh beginning and be a dominate playoff contender,” said senior Adnan Bashir.