The Washington Wizards are headed to the playoffs for the first time since the 2007-08 NBA season. John Wall, in his first All-Star season, has undeniably been the leader of this team. Wall and company have been working hard this season, and believe it or not the Wizards have a legitimate shot at winning a first-round matchup since it looks like they will not have to face the Indiana Pacers or Miami Heat early on.
Wall will be playing in the postseason for the first time in his career. Even though he led the Wizards to the postseason, Washington will need the veterans to assert themselves as leaders this postseason. Trevor Ariza, Drew Gooden, Al Harrington, Marcin Gortat, Nene Hilario and Andre Miller have all played in at least 40 plus postseason games. Washington’s veterans need to help guide the Wizards’ “youngster” during their first postseason trip.
Washington was fortunate to acquire Gortat, Miller and Gooden, three players with a lot of postseason experience. Together, all three players have a total of 142 playoff appearances. What is valuable is that these veterans have been on teams that were in similar situations to where the Wizards find themselves now. Their veteran leadership will help this young team try to push its way into the next round. Without their leadership, the Wizards could be in a lot of trouble.
Ariza’s leadership this postseason will be a huge factor in getting past the first round. He currently has more playoff experience than anyone else on the roster. Ariza was a part of the 2009 Los Angeles Lakers team that won the championship during which he was a very consistent and reliable player. Washington needs Ariza to stand out and provide on and off court leadership during this year’s playoffs. He is arguably having the best season of his career currently, averaging 14.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.6 steals per game. Washington has its fair share of reliable veterans, but for this postseason, Ariza is the most important.
The Wizards’ future looks very bright, and Washington fans should be ecstatic that the team is headed to the postseason. The Wizards have been led by their young star in Wall all season, and now it’s time that the veterans step it up and help Washington get past the first round.