The Wizards are the definition of mediocre as they reach the midpoint of the NBA season.
At 20-21, they still haven’t been able to climb over the .500 mark for the first time since 2009 despite five different chances. The Wizards are 10-11 at home and 10-10 on the road as they embark on a West Coast swing Friday night in Phoenix (9 p.m., CSN+).
Washington ranks near the middle of the league in most categories including points (18th), field goal percentage (16th) and point differential (16th).
But the numbers don’t tell the whole story. For the first time in years, the Wizards have something that goes beyond the box score — promise. Right now, thanks to the lackluster Eastern Conference, they’d be the sixth seed in the playoffs with only two games separating them from the No. 3 spot.
So, as we hand out midseason grades, you have to take that into account. The Wizards may not be a “good” team, but they are getting there, and that’s the best thing anyone’s been able to say about D.C. basketball in years.
The strength of the team, at least from the starters’ perspective. John Wall has put it all together in his fourth season, averaging career highs across the board. His 20.2-point average and the Wizards’ relative success should be enough to get him into the All-Star game. Bradley Beal can be erratic at times, but there’s no doubt he’s a star in the making at shooting guard. Both have played major minutes this season, so keeping them fresh and healthy down the stretch may be a concern. Grade: A-
When Nene is healthy, he can still be a force on the interior, something the Wizards desperately need. So far, he’s played in 34 games, and given Washington 13.4 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, which has to be considered a success. Trevor Ariza is having a fantastic season, showcasing his versatility while averaging a career-high 13.7 PPG. Martell Webster remains a potent 3-point threat and is among the best free throw shooters in the league. Grade: B
Marcin Gortat has been a streaky performer during the first half. He seems to play better when paired in the frontcourt with Nene, but the “Polish Hammer” becomes scattershot and sloppy when teamed with Trevor Booker. Still, he’s given the team 32 minutes, 12 points and nearly 8.8 rebounds per game. He’s also allowed Nene to play his preferred power forward position and keeps things light with some hilarious interviews and anecdotes. Grade: B-
This has been a major concern and one that has to be addressed if the Wizards want to make a playoff push. Forward Trevor Booker and guard Garrett Temple are about the only reliable bench players. No. 3 draft pick Otto Porter Jr. is a nonfactor, guard Eric Maynor has been a disaster, veteran Al Harrington is injured, and Jan Vesely and Kevin Seraphin are still too raw to be counted on for more than spot minutes. Good teams have good second units. Grade: D
There are many critics of Randy Wittman’s coaching style. He has an erratic substitution pattern and his team too often falls to bad teams. But let’s face it, the guy has this team in the playoff chase. The Wizards didn’t quit on him last year, and he’s done an admirable job of handling the ups and downs of this season. He’s not the second coming of Phil Jackson, but not many other coaches would be able to coax more out of this team than Wittman. Grade: C