Will potential push Wizards into playoffs?


The Wizards need more players like Nene: successful and experienced. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

The Washington Wizards’ season starts next week. There’s talk about the Wizards making the National Basketball Association playoffs this time around.

I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t see them playing in the postseason. At least not this year. The Wizards have lots of potential, but they do not have many proven playoff-winning players. Take a look at their roster.

John Wall is the Wizards’ leader and top player. He’s a lightning-quick point guard who is super exciting. However, Wall is in his fourth year and still waiting to play on his first winning team in the NBA.

I know the Wizards had a pretty good record of 24-25 (24 wins and 25 losses) after Wall came back from a knee injury last season. Still, 49 games is not a full season.

Bradley Beal is a shooting guard with a picture-perfect jump shot. He was hurt for part of last season. Only 20 years old, Beal has lots of potential but also lots to learn.

The Wizards are hoping their first-round draft pick, Otto Porter from Georgetown University, will help at small forward. Porter is a rookie, and not many players make a big impact in their first year. Again, he has plenty of potential but doesn’t have a proven record in professional basketball.

Some Washington veteran players, such as Al Harrington and Nene, have been starters on good teams. Nene even went to the Western Conference Finals in 2009 as the starting center for the Denver Nuggets. I wish the Wizards had more players with that kind of experience.

There’s a big difference between players who have potential and players who have been starters or big-time contributors for successful NBA playoff teams. In sports, it really counts if you have already won some big games.

Let’s say there’s a swim meet. One of the racers is a tall, strong kid with long arms and legs, just the kind of swimmer who looks great in the starting blocks. Another racer is smaller but has swum faster times and won lots of races.

Who do you think is going to win the race? The second, smaller kid, right? The taller competitor has lots of potential and might be a terrific swimmer someday. But the second kid is a proven winner. Chances are, the swimmer with a record of success will win again.

It’s the same with the Wizards. They have several good young players — Wall, Beal, Porter and others — who will be fun to root for and have lots of potential. Maybe the Wizards will put it all together for a winning season.

But my guess is that all that potential will not get them into the playoffs.

Bowen writes the sports opinion column for KidsPost. He is the author of 19 sports books for kids. His latest basketball book is “Real Hoops.”

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