Why You Should Be Excited About the Washington Wizards

The combination of Scott Brooks as the new head coach, a healthy duo of John Wall and Bradley Beal, as well as a number of intriguing off-season additions, have transformed the Washington Wizards from being predictably mediocre to one of the more exciting under-the-radar NBA teams to watch in the 2016-17 season.

The NBA has a number of teams that even casual fans are interested in, no matter their win-loss record.

The Washington Wizards are not one of them.

The Lakers or the Celtics are among your usual suspects. But every now and then, a team pops seemingly out of nowhere and overnight creates a cult following. Think of the seven-seconds-or-less Suns or the young and raw Thunder squad in its early days. Today, the Timberwolves with the ridiculous amount of talent or even the Bucks with their height – teams with a combined 62-102 record in the 2015-16 season – are able to generate a lot of buzz.

Some of these teams win championships, but most fall short. At the end of the day, though, all of them for a brief period of time convince you to hop on their bandwagon, just to be able to potentially witness history in the making.

Other than the brief Gilbert Arenas era and maybe John Wall’s rookie season, the Wizards have not been able to generate much excitement among its fanbase. The reasons are well-known: an ultra-transient, football-crazy city, an inept front office, and tough luck with injuries.

Following yet another disappointing season and a more disappointing free agency, few experts or fans seem to be counting down the days until the first Wizards regular season game.

Justified optimism?

The situation might be better than it seems, and it starts with their new head coach, Scott Brooks.

While the critiques regarding his sometimes questionable play calling are certainly warranted, Brooks is without a doubt great at developing young talent, and it just so happens that the Wizards have a few players in desperate need of being developed.

This is the year Otto Porter has to finally take the next step, and being under Brooks’ tutelage gives him the perfect opportunity to do so. Kelly Oubre, another athletic prospect with a high ceiling, should see the floor much more often than in his rookie year.

John Wall is still a top-5 point guard in the league and only Russell Westbrook can challenge him for the title of the fastest one. Wall might need some time to get into shape following surgery this off-season, but he should be a perfect fit for Brooks' fast-paced offense. Assuming the recovery goes according to plan, 2016-17 might be the season we’ll see Wall the healthiest he has ever been.

Health problems are an issue for any athlete, but the term seems to be nearly synonymous with Bradley Beal’s career so far. If he can finally avoid major injuries this season, basketball fans might get the House of Guards season we all deserve. (Yes, the reference is a bit dated at this point, but I still think it’s one of the best sports/pop culture mashups). Wall and Beal are a top-3 backcourt in the league when healthy, and statistically speaking there is always a chance that this will be the season that both of them avoid injuries. Fingers crossed.

Uncertainty more exciting than predictable mediocrity

For the past couple of off-seasons, Wizards fans had to roll their eyes seeing Randy Wittman staying on the sidelines and the team happily bringing back guys like Garrett Temple and Drew Gooden. This off-season has been remarkable in that the front office decided to roll the dice on a number of players. No one knows for sure how the new additions will adapt to the team and how guys like Markieff Morris or Marcin Gortat will fit into Brooks’ game plan, and this uncertainty is exactly what makes the 2016-17 season so exciting for the Wizards.

Will Tomáš Satoranský develop into another European sensation? Can Trey Burke, former National College Player of the Year, take advantage of a second chance and revive his career? Will you look back at this column in a few months and say “what an idiot” when Marcus Thornton is in the starting lineup and Wall openly demands a trade? The answer to all these questions is maybe. This Washington Wizards season will be anything but boring.

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