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The final buzzer went off in the Verizon Center and the Indiana Pacers ran off the court, celebrating their victory. The season was officially over for the Washington Wizards. After one of their most successful seasons in recent memory, the Wizards had their sights on the offseason and the year to come.

After a five season playoff drought, the 2013-2014 season for the Wizards was their best since the 2007-2008 season. They had their highest winning percentage (.537) since the 2004-2005 season (.549). It was also the first time they made the playoffs since 2008 and the first time they won a playoff series since the 2005. “It was nice to see them do well,” said junior Noah Goodkind. “Hopefully they can do it again.”

Going into the off season, the Wizards had some decisions to make as center Marcin Gortat, shooting guard Trevor Ariza and other players were on the free agent market. Before all of these players, the Wizards made sure they signed head coach Randy Wittman to a four-year, nine million dollar deal. Under Wittman, the Wizards were 91-122, but they won 44 of those games last season.

On July 1, the first day of free agency, the Wizards locked down Gortat for the next five years for 60 million dollars. Gortat averaged 13.2 points per game (PPG) and 9.5 rebounds per game (RPG). Both statistics were close to his career high of 15.4 PPG and 10 RPG, set in 2011-2012 season with the Phoenix Suns. “He’s able to run the floor, defend at the rim,” said coach Wittman in an online Washington Post article. “He has good hands in the pick-and-roll situation, so he’s a really solid player for us at that position.”

On July 12, the Wizards had some bad news and good news. The bad news was that Trevor Ariza agreed to a four year, 32 million dollar deal with the Houston Rockets. Ariza set a career high in PPG with 17.6, nearly three points higher than his past career high. He also set career highs in field goal percentage and three-point field goal percentage.

However, just hours later, the team picked up Paul Pierce a small forward. The 37 year old veteran spent 15 of his 16 season with the Boston Celtics. He has played in 148 playoff games, averaging just over 20 PPG in those games. In his 11 years in the playoffs, he has won as many National Basketball Association (NBA) titles as the Wizards have won in their whole franchise history. “He brings a combination of that championship pedigree and the heart and toughness of a competitor to the Wizards,” said junior Miles Dulman.

Going into the 2014-2015 season, the Wizards started of with 17-6 record, beating teams like the New York Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers and the Indiana Pacers (twice). Point guard John Wall leads the team with 18.1 PPG, 10.4 assists per game (APG) and just over 35 minutes per game. Gortat leads the team with 8.8 RPG and is second in PPG with 13.7. Pierce is fourth in rebounds with five per game and fourth in scoring, averaging 13.2 PPG.

At this point in the season last year, the Wizards were 9-12. The only big name teams they beat at this point were the Los Angeles Lakers and the Atlanta Hawks, both by less that 10 points. Out of the first 21 games, Wall scored the most points for the Wizards in eight of the games, winning half of those games. At least one player scored 30 points in five of those games, four of those times being Wall.

Last season, the Wizards finished fifth in the Eastern Conference, which set them up with a winning campaign against the Chicago Bulls. Currently, the Wizards are second in the conference behind the 18-6 Toronto Raptors, another surprise early season team. If the playoffs were to start today, the Wizards would face the Miami Heat, who are struggling with a 11-13 record with LeBron James’s departure. With the top teams struggling early on, the Wizards are primed for another berth to the playoffs, bearing they stay consistent throughout the year.

The Wizards’ offseason moves and pickups are starting to show their effectivity early in the season. “They are playing pretty well,” said senior Alex Saenz. “The defense is looking pretty good and the offense is a work in progress. It is refreshing that they are off to a good start.”

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The student newspaper of Washington-Lee High School
Wizardry