Yeah, it's been a really frustrating start to the Wizards season. We're on the same page there. 1-5 looks bad on the surface.
After you stop to take a breath though and dig a little deeper, you see it's not as hopeless as it looks. In fact, there's good news -- the Wizards been here before, and it's ended well.
Sure, that's not how anyone would have wanted to gauge the 2018-19 season just two weeks ago, but, it's what we call a silver lining. At 1-5, those are the best types of linings.
In 2016-17, the Wizards started off 2-8. After the month of November, they were 6-9 overall, and 1-4 on the road.
The conversations surrounding the team were really similar. In fact, it almost feels like a mirror image looking back. Questions about the core. Worries about the bench. "What's wrong with the defense?". Deja vu.
Then, December came around, and something clicked (early Christmas?).
We saw a whole new team.
The Wizards went 10-5 that month, then 12-4 in January (5-4 on the road), and climbed back up the Eastern Conference standings. The rest of the league took notice, and rightfully so. They were one of the hottest teams in the NBA.
After the regular season was done, they'd won 49 games, and earned a No. 4 seed in the playoffs.
Hope had returned to the fanbase.
Yes it ended with a Game 7 loss to the Celtics, but it felt like the team had taken the next step, and just needed to tweak some things moving forward.
What's forgotten about that season is that at the time, "John Wall" and "MVP" were both used in the same sentence, and everyone around the country was arguing whether or not Wall was the best point guard in the NBA. It was a prosperous time in the #DCFamily.
The momentum was lost last year though when Wall missed 41 games, which is impossible for any team to overcome. Sorry, it just is. He was never healthy, and they were never really able to catch up after missing their franchise point guard for that long.
What needs to be understood about this 1-5 start for the Wizards is that it's not the NFL. Six games is a much smaller percentage of your season in the NBA (don't ask for the math here, we don't do that). No, it's not good, and no, it doesn't put them in a comfortable situation. But, let's also understand they're going through a mid-season grind in October. So much of this is mental.
They opened with the Heat, the No. 6 seed last year. Then came the Raptors, who were the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Then, five games on the road, all against Western Conference teams.
Have you ever had a bad week at work? Of course, you have, we all go through it. Remember what it feels like to just want to go home because you're so burned out?
That's where the Wizards are.
The problem is, it'll just be seven games into the season once they play in Memphis. Yes, it's a bad look, but no, the dreaded panic button isn't, and shouldn't be pushed.
What has to happen now, is the Wizards need to watch the film, humble themselves, and figure out whether they have the same pride to turn this thing around as they did two years ago, or, give up and coast the whole season. It's the same core they had back then.
Stop worrying about roles, or touches, or agendas. The preseason mantra was "no excuses". It's time to get back to that mindset.
It starts with effort. If the Wizards can find that, the rest will come together. A bruised ego can be a blessing or a curse, and they have to decide how they'll respond.
The talent is there.
What's needed now is the self-awareness to change the bad habits they've fallen into, and the pride to pull themselves out of the hole they're stuck in.
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