Wizards

Wizards aren't satisfied with 4-1 start

Wizards

WASHINGTON -- When told off the top of his postgame press conference on Thursday night that the Wizards at 4-1 were off to their best start to a season since 2014-15, head coach Wes Unseld Jr. quickly deflected an opportunity to take credit or soak in praise for what his team has done so far.

Things are going well, the Wizards are tied for the best record in the Eastern Conference. But they have 77 regular season games left to go and they hope at least a few more after that.

"It's great, but we even talked about it after the game, we're not satisfied, nor should we be. It's early in the season," Unseld Jr. said.

He added the Wizards "have a ton of work to do." Though they beat an Atlanta Hawks team while missing a host of key players including second-leading scorer Spencer Dinwiddie (rest) and top defender Daniel Gafford (quad contusion), they haven't been perfect through these five games.

They are 12th in the NBA in net rating, seventh in offensive rating and 13th in defensive rating. That means there is technically room for improvement all-around.

But also it's simply still very early. The Wizards have put together a team of proven veteran players, many of which are used to going on deep playoff runs. Unseld Jr. himself is accustomed to the postseason, having been with the Denver Nuggets when they reached the Western Conference Finals in September of last year.

 

Kyle Kuzma has a championship ring. His Lakers met Unseld Jr.'s Nuggets in the conference finals before advancing to win a title in the bubble.

So, naturally, he pushed back on the Wizards' start as being anything to celebrate.

"It's a good start, but in all reality it doesn't mean anything. You can start off 4-1, 5-1 and you see teams all the time start out hot and then they just fall to the ground," Kuzma said. 

"I always like to say, Jason Kidd taught me this and it's simple; the regular season is just a rehearsal for the big dance, which is the playoffs. I don't think we're excited about being 4-1. I think we all have room to improve and it's going to take time."

Bradley Beal has not enjoyed the same level of team success as Kuzma, but he is used to going to the playoffs, having qualified in five of his nine NBA seasons. He said the Wizards "still haven't done anything."

Perhaps the Wizards can leave getting excited about what has happened so far to the fans. In their defense, it's not often they have seen a Washington team hit the ground running right out of the gate. Before 2014-15, the last 4-1 start was in 2005-06. That year, they went to 5-1, a mark the Wizards could match if they beat the Celtics on Saturday.

This 4-1 start also includes some impressive wins. The Hawks made the Eastern Conference Finals last season and were 3-1 entering the matchup. Washington also beat Boston on the road the night before despite dealing with injuries.

All things considered, it's hard to imagine the Wizards beginning this season much better than they have. But it's just a start, that's all it is.