By Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley (AFRO, NNPA Member)
A few weeks ago, the AFRO Sports Desk debated if the Washington Wizards were built to be contenders for a deep playoff run. But after an impressive week that saw the Wizards start a five-game road trip out west by winning their first four games, it might be time to recalculate Washington’s chances at winning the whole thing. The Wizards have been on fire lately and, at press time, are only two-and-a-half games away from first place in the Eastern Conference. The team is playing arguably the best basketball in the league. So, can Washington win the title? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley, of the AFRO Sports Desk debate this exciting question.
Riley: Washington’s roster isn’t brimming with star power but from top to bottom it might be the most complete team in the NBA. Through advanced basketball metrics, John Wall and Bradley Beal have been rated as high as the second best backcourt in the league. Forwards Otto Porter Jr. and Markieff Morris are athletic enough at their positions to be effective on most nights while still spreading the floor with their deep shooting touches. Centers Marcin Gortat and Ian Mahinmi provide defense, rebounding and inside scoring at all times over the course of the game. Washington could win it all.
Green: The team is solid, but they lack that star power that you need to win in today’s NBA. When superstar players like LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Steph Curry get going, there’s not much you can do to stop them. We’re fresh off of a NBA Finals domination from James that was unreal. That’s what superstars do and I’m not sure if Washington can match that.
Riley: It hasn’t just been about the starters. Washington’s roster has finally been rounded out with key reserves like Bojan Bogdanovic and Brandon Jennings. We’ve seen in prior seasons that the team playing the best basketball at the end of the season is the one that wins no matter the strength of the opponent. A balanced roster and strong coaching are key ingredients and the Wizards have both. Coach Scott Brooks has been amazing and has the entire roster in sync. The way Washington is playing, they could match up with any team over a seven-game series.
Green: I’d be anxious to see them against James and Irving in a playoff series. We already saw how Cleveland’s two superstars piloted them in a 140-135 overtime win back on Feb. 6. James recorded 32 points, 17 assists and seven rebounds, dominating the Wizards at times. Washington deserves credit for how well it’s been playing but there’s not a large enough sample size of game-play to definitively declare Washington as the next NBA champs.