As season hangs in the balance, Washington Wizards face defining moment

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While most eyes in the United State's capital are honed on Kevin Durant and the possibility of him signing with his hometown team, the Washington Wizards' inconsistency continues to be a problem.

Reeling from a 132-129 double-overtime loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves – a game the Washington Post reports featured 14 blown calls in the final 12 minutes (nine out of 14 against the Wizards) –the playoffs are growing quickly out of reach.

"It's a horrible loss, just plain and simple," Wizards' guard Bradley Beal told FOX Sports following a 26 point performance. "There's no explanation about it. We shouldn't have lost that game."

Currently the 10th seed in the Eastern conference with a record of 35-37, the Wizards will need to win most of their remaining ten games to have a shot at the postseason.

SB Nation's Bullets Forever compiled stats to illustrate the Wizards' narrow playoff chances as they sit 3.5 games back of the Detroit Pistons for the final playoff spot.

FiveThirtyEight (12 percent), ESPN BPI (five percent) and Basketball-Reference (four percent) show how slim the Wizards' playoff hopes are with ten regular season games remaining.

If the Wizards do miss the playoffs, it would be the latest failed attempt at championship glory during John Wall's stint with the team.

The three-time NBA All-Star is having another outstanding season, averaging 20.1 points and 10.1 assists per game. However, even he seems to be at peace with the possibility that his team could miss the playoffs for the first time in two seasons.

Earlier this week, Wall was trying to keep the Wizards' season alive in Atlanta, pacing around the Phillips Arena looking to answer some self-imposed questions.

“I think about it every day, to be honest with you,” Wall said to the Washington Post in regards to the team's recent struggles.

“I’m thinking, ‘There’s no way in hell we should be in this situation. We should already have a playoff spot. We should be done with that.’ Now we’re fighting for dear life.”

The question is, how much longer can Wall stand to play for a team is always on the precipice of playoff contention, but never a slam dunk guarantee?

The Wizards didn't even the make the playoffs during Wall's first three seasons in the league. Yet, how much of the blame can be attributed to Wall himself?


As the Washington Post notes, Wall – much like the rest of the Wizards – has regressed defensively this season.

Wall's defensive plus-minus, a statistic used to determine a player's defensive efficiency, has regressed from fourth among point guards last year to being 16th this season.

He is also a league leader in turnovers (4.1) this season.

“Everyone was looking bad, including me. I put blame on myself. I wasn’t good,” Wall said. “I knew I wasn’t great defensively early on, but now my defense is a lot better because we’re back to our old principles and it makes it tougher for teams to score against us.”

The 25-year-old Wall, despite his defensive shortcomings, is one of the elite point guards in the game. If not for Stephen Curry's prolific shooting prowess and Russell Westbrook's emergence, he may be the top point in he entire NBA.

Wall is just like any other elite athlete; he has a limited window to win and playing for a team constantly shrouded with question marks won't help him.

Beal is talented but getting acclimated as he returns from injury. Veterans like Jared Dudley and Marcin Gortat can fill out a roster but they don't complete one.

Wall signed a five-year, $80 million extension in 2013 and is set to hit free agency as a 28-year-old following the 2018-19 season. 

Wall could ask for a trade, citing frustrations with the team never being a guaranteed contender. Or, Wall could play out the remainder of his deal in Washington, possibly luring Durant or other free agents to help the cause. Either way, he emphasizes team success over personal success.

“I don’t like it,” Wall about having to chase teams in the playoff race. “Don’t matter if I’m averaging 20, 10, and five, and was an all-star. It don’t mean nothing to me."

Eastern Conference
Washington Wizards
Southeast Division
John Wall
Bradley Beal

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