Quick Links

Wizards have mixed feelings about how this season ended, but say next year must be different

Wizards have mixed feelings about how this season ended, but say next year must be different

There are so many factors to weigh in determining whether the Wizards' 2016-17 season was a success or a disappointment. The expectations were set and reset multiple times coming off a 2015-16 season where they missed the playoffs, then after a stunning 2-8 start and then throughout a magical run that ended with a second round playoff exit.

The Wizards' season was a mixed bag of various extremes. Because of that, the players have differing opinions in evaluating what happened.

"Overall, I think it was a good season," guard Bradley Beal said. "As disappointing as we can call it, we can still take a lot of good out of it... We were able to advance further in the playoffs than we've ever been."

"I feel like we could have gone farther. It was a disappointing season," forward Otto Porter said. "In our minds, we could have gotten to the Finals to contend for a championship."

The Wizards' season technically ended just like it did in the 2014 and 2015 playoffs, in the second round and just short of a berth in the Eastern Conference Finals. There were, however, many reasons to think this team was better than those teams and thus this year represented not only a step in the right direction, but brand new ground in the John Wall era.

[RELATED: Wall's All-NBA nod puts him among best in franchise history]

They got to 49 wins and won their division, both firsts for the franchise since 1978-79. They found considerable success under new head coach Scott Brooks, reaching a new level offensively. Most on their roster took noticeable steps forward in their development, everyone from Wall and Beal to Porter and Kelly Oubre, Jr. Wall's improvement earned him All-NBA honors for the first time in his career.

Still, the Wizards wanted more than what they ended up achieving. Especially towards the end of the season, as they battled for positioning in the East during the regular season, got past the Hawks in the first round and battled closely with the Celtics, they dreamt big. At one point even the Cavaliers looked vulnerable. Some wondered if this could be the Wizards' year to do some real damage in the playoffs.

Reality ultimately struck and the Wizards were left in a familiar spot. But here's what we know is different about this time around: next year a second round exit will almost certainly not be good enough. They want to go reach at least the conference finals and anything less will not do.

"I'm tired of being in this situation. I'm tired of losing in the second round," Beal said. "Next season it will be totally different. We have to remember the feeling we have right now and be better next year."

"Now our expectations are a lot higher," forward Markieff Morris said. "Especially having a year under our belt with this group."

Whether the Wizards can get to the conference finals or beyond next spring will depend on many things between health, improvement from within and the roster adjustments they make. But the goal is clear and the Wizards will have to wait a full calendar year to get their next shot at it.

[RELATED: Wall should have been All-NBA 2nd team over Isaiah Thomas]

Quick Links

Nuggets player Nikola Jokic bumps Scott Brooks in bizarre, costly mistake

USA Today Sports Images

Nuggets player Nikola Jokic bumps Scott Brooks in bizarre, costly mistake

So, this is a weird way to end a basketball game.

The Wizards were up just two points on the Denver Nuggets with :32 seconds left on Monday night when talented third-year center Nikola Jokic made a mistake that may have cost Denver a win. During a timeout, Jokic bumped shoulders with Wizards head coach Scott Brooks. Brooks was immediately incensed and Jokic was awarded a technical.

It was a bizarre moment. Watch it here:

Bradley Beal hit the technical free throw, then sank a layup on the next possession. Jokic made dumb mistake, whether it was intentional or not, and the Wizards capitalized in a 109-104 win.

Naturally, the Wizards were surprised by what went down.

“That’s something you don’t do," John Wall said. "No matter what’s going on between players and teammates. That’s something you don’t do to a coach. That’s like me calling a coach a certain name. Hopefully he apologizes to [Brooks], but luckily we got the win.”

Both Brooks and Jokic said it wasn't on purpose.

“It was an awkward, weird situation. I don’t think he did it on purpose but it happened," Brooks said. "I moved on and the referee had to do what he had to do and move on. But I never had that happened before.”

“I’m sorry because I put my team in a bad position,” Jokic said.

Jokic's excuse was that he was trying to look at the score. You be the judge.


Quick Links

Wizards stay unbeaten, take out Nuggets to begin road trip

USA Today Sports Images

Wizards stay unbeaten, take out Nuggets to begin road trip

The Washington Wizards beat the Denver Nuggets 109-104 on Monday night at the Pepsi Center. Here's analysis of what went down.

Jokic bumped Brooks: A strange moment happened in the final minute that helped change the course of this game. Nuggets center Nikola Jokic bumped Wizards head coach Scott Brooks during a timeout, earning a technical foul with :32 seconds left. The Wizards were up just two points, but Bradley Beal hit a free throw and then a layup on the ensuing possession to give the Wizards a five-point lead and essentially seal the win.

Here is the play. It's not something you see very often:

Porter may be taking another leap: Otto Porter (17 points, 10 rebounds, four steals) was a standout in the first two games because of his hot starts and that continued on Monday. Porter came out rolling with 12 points in his first 15 minutes. He made it look easy with his midrange game, consistently knocking down 15 to 20 foot jumpers. 

Porter clearly looks more assertive and confident, showing no hesitation particularly early in games. The Wizards saw John Wall and Bradley Beal quickly get much better after signing their max deals and Porter looks intent on following their lead. If he can achieve consistency in dropping 15+ points per game while doing all the things he already does, the Wizards could reach new heights.

Backup point guard a positive: Yeah, you read that right. For as much trouble as the Wizards have had solving the backup point guard position, all was right on Monday night. Tim Frazier had easily his best game since joining the Wizards after going scoreless in his first two outings. His first made shot as a member of the Wizards was a buzzer-beater at the end of the first quarter from about 35 feet out.

Frazier lit a spark with 10 points, so did Tomas Satoransky. After not playing in the Wizards' first two games, he checked in late in the second quarter and immediately hit a hook shot and a three. Satoransky is on the outside of the rotation looking in, but he made the most of a brief opportunity on this particular night.

Those two guys helped buoy Wall (19 points, 12 assists) and Beal (20 points, five rebounds). Any time pressure can be taken off of them is a good thing.

Jokic is legitimate: We don't see much of Nuggets center Jokic on the East Coast and he didn't score a single point in his last game before playing the Wizards, but on Monday Jokic showed that he is the real deal. The guy came out swinging with 12 points on 5-for-5 from the field in his first eight minutes. By halftime he had 16 points, five rebounds and three assists. There are so many good, young big men these days that Jokic gets overlooked, but he does just about everything well. Jokic finished with 29 points in 35 minutes.

Smith still out: Jason Smith didn't play in this one as he missed his second straight game with a sprained right shoulder. Considering Markieff Morris (sports hernia surgery) is also out, meaning the Wizards are missing both of their power forwards, this undefeated start is no small feat. The Wizards are 3-0 for the fourth time in team history and the first time since 2005. The other two times they did so were the 1978-79 season and the 1974-75 season. Both of those years they lost in the NBA Finals. Thanks to a Raptors loss on Monday, the Wizards are the only remaining undefeated team in the East.

Up next: The Wizards move on to Los Angeles to play the Lakers at the Staples Center. That means Wall vs. Lonzo Ball. The game tips at 10:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.