Wizards

Unseld Jr. prefers home court advantage, not getting 50 wins

Wizards

It's been a long time since the Wizards won 50 games in a regular season.

How long? To put it in perspective, the team was still named the Bullets. Oh, and their best player, Wes Unseld? His son is now the Wizards' head coach. 

Since the 1978-79 season, when the Bullets won 54 games as the defending NBA champions but lost in the Finals to Seattle, 42 teams have tried and failed to reach that mark again. A few teams came close, like the 45-win Wizards led by Gilbert Arenas in 2005 or John Wall and Bradley Beal's group in 2017 that won 49 games, but 50 continues to be an elusive total for the franchise. 

This year's team could be the one to do it, though. They're out to a strong 14-8 start, play good defense and can go 11-deep in their rotation not counting Rui Hachimura and Thomas Bryant, who've yet to play this season. 

However, when asked whether he believes this group is a 50-win team, Wes Unseld Jr. made sure to focus on something a bit more important. 

"I'd love to say yes, but I don't want to ever put a number on it," Unseld Jr. told the Sports Junkies Friday. "Our biggest concern is we want to be a playoff team and ideally, that's with home-court advantage. And I think last year and [for home court] you're hovering around 48 wins, so you know, that'd be an ideal situation. Let's get home court."

 

Since the Bullets won 54 games over 40 years ago, every other NBA team has put together a 50-win season, giving Washington the longest-active drought in the NBA. The second-longest belongs to Charlotte, who last won 50 games in 1998. 

So while it'd certainly be nice to end that streak even if it's only for appearance's sake, 1979 was also the last time the franchise made it to the NBA Finals. At the end of the day, advancing in the playoffs is what matters. And home-court advantage, as Unseld Jr. is focused on, goes a long way toward moving to the second and third rounds of the postseason bracket. 

That's still a long way away, though. For now, the Wizards can focus on getting win No. 15 against the Cavaliers on Friday night. The Cavs have won two in a row and have a sensational young big man in Evan Mobley, who just won Rookie of the Month for November.