One of the youngest teams in the NBA, the Washington Wizards, have an advantage that should help them be competitive in the near future, especially as the NBA Lockout progresses. That advantage is their youth. For those still keeping tabs on the NBA, this is very divergent from what was expected a year ago, when the franchise was in Year 1 of rebuild mode. But still, a year after finishing 23-59, the third-worst record in the Eastern Conference, what promise could I possibly see? You'll find that and more after the jump.
The 23-59 record is not really an issue, because to be honest, who thought they'd contend the first year after dumping veterans Antwan Jamison and Caron Butler in 2010 and Gilbert Arenas early in 2011? Jon Wall may be one of the best young guards in the league, but he's human. So 23-59, just three games below the 26-56 finish the year before with the aforementioned players, is not bad.
But aside from the core of youngsters Jon Wall, JaVale McGee, Andray Blatche and Jordan Crawford, the Wizards have several good things going for them. One, they drafted well, acquiring one of the draft's best combo forwards in Chris Singleton of Florida State and a guard off of two-time national runner-up Butler, Shelvin Mack. But two, and most importantly, they're young, and the current guard of the NBA, specifically in the Eastern Conference, is not getting any younger.
As the lockout continues, the possibility exists that not only will the 2011-12 season be canceled (which seems probable) but time in the 2012-13 season could be in jeopardy. The current issues being debated are that important to both sides, and frankly the two sides are too far apart in their demands to find any sort of middle ground at the moment. Very little progress has been made, and both sides have balked on getting anything less than their demands.
NBA basketball is still a haves and have-nots sort of game. The haves are in the playoffs every year, contending for championships, comfortably paying well above the salary cap, and for some, even the luxury tax, to sculpt their perfect rosters. But for small-market teams, usually the have-nots, money is an issue. Being able to shell out dough to lucrative free agents just isn't an option for them. Therefore, they are unable to get fans in the seats to see them play, which leads to negative cash flow and an inability to play on a level playing field. To get fans in the seats, owners have to field a competitive team, and in the NBA, if a team doesn't go well and above the salary cap, more often than not, they won't be able to compete.
So unlike the NFL, neither side is chomping at the bit to give into the other's demands. Unlike the NFL, some teams are actually failing to turn a profit (I'll leave it at that after financial records were leaked that showed the NBA was being a tad disingenuous about claiming to lose as much money as they were claiming), and that could make for a long lockout. Although they need time on the court to mesh and evolve their games, some of the league's older players not willing to stick around if the whole season or more is lost will benefit the Wizards chances of improving sooner rather than later.