To pinpoint one particular reason as to why the Washington Wizards made the 2014 NBA playoffs is simply impossible. One could surely point to the emergence of John Wall, who transformed himself from a solid player on a bad team to a borderline superstar. The Wizards’ trade for Marcin Gortat before the start of the season that caused many a head scratch could easily be looked at as the deciding factor in their season. Or maybe it was the shockingly good play and unconscious at times three point shooting of Trevor Ariza? I contend that there is no specific factor that propelled the Wizards into the playoffs but rather a melting pot of several smaller factors.
Entering the season, John Wall was probably still viewed in the eyes of many as that flashy Kentucky point guard who can dance. After the stellar season that Wall had, he won’t have to worry about gaining recognition any more. Boasting gaudy numbers of 19.3 points and 9 assists per game, Wall was a no-doubt All-Star. After signing a five year, near max deal in the offseason, the general consensus on Wall was that he needed to jump up a tier in the NBA ranks and he did just that.
Marcin Gortat is simply one of the most solid players in the NBA both on and off the court. The amount of small plays that he makes which go unnoticed to an average NBA fan is unreal. He habitually bats out offensive rebounds and provides his team with countless second chances on the offensive end. Gortat has also proven himself as a serviceable mid-range shooter. Gortat also has a trait rarely found in centers in that he is proficient in taking charges. While he may not have the leaping ability of some premier shot blockers in the league, he makes up for it with his unwavering willingness to put his body on the line.
It was not too long ago that Wizards nation cringed when Trevor Ariza rose up to shoot from three point land. Nowadays, their expecting hands go up signifying “three” as soon as he is about to take a shot. Tallying a stunning 40 percent shooting from three and averaging 14 points per game, Ariza established himself as a reliable option to put up points. Ariza was starting just because of his length and athleticism on the defensive end but now that he has solidified his offensive game, he serves as yet another matchup that can be exploited.
This 2013-2014 Washington Wizards team brought an identity that focused on balance in all aspects of their play. Many experts who were unable to get the chance to see this team play very much still believed that this was the same run and gun team with no defense. But this Wizards team can beat you by putting up 110 points or holding you in the 80s. The mid-season trade for Andre Miller as well as the acquisition of Drew Gooden added veteran leadership as well as filled voids that had become apparent as the season wore on. This Wizards team is definitely a legitimate threat to any team in the NBA and they really grew over this season.