Following the Washington Wizards 98-80 drubbing of the Orlando Magic on Monday, Wizards center Marcin Gortat expressed his confidence in the team to win 50 games this season.
Then, on Wednesday, after having been able to come down from the overblown confidence following a win over an obviously lesser opponent, Gortat was asked if he was serious about his 50-win statement.
He did not back down from his sentiments however, saying… “I believe. I really do believe we can win 50 games with this team. There’s not too many people that believe this. It might sound crazy. I know how it sounds. But I really do believe. It would be stupid to say, ‘Hey, I came here to lose 50 games. I’ll be excited if we win 30.’ It’s better to say you’re going to win 50 games than lose 50. I really do believe we can win it. Got to continue to play together, move the ball. Try to play for 48 minutes and don’t get excited about easy wins. Focus on the big games and make sure we win the games at home. And we should be fine.”
Obviously, Gortat who the Wizards acquired this fall, prior to the start of the season, isn’t accustomed to Washington D.C.-area sports and the constant letdown that is associated with them, but does he make a valid point?
His optimism is necessary for a team with lofty goals, but this current Wizards team isn’t quite yet ready to win 50 games.
To put this into perspective, only seven teams won 50 games or more last season (New York, Miami, Oklahoma City, Denver, the Los Angeles Clippers, San Antonio, and Memphis), and just two of those teams are in the eastern conference.
Even the team favored to challenge the defending NBA champions, Miami, once again this year, the Indiana Pacers, fell just short of 50 games last season, winning 49.
As of today, about a month into the new season, the Wizards are third in the struggling eastern conference at just 9-9.
They have hit a stride however winning seven out of their last nine games, even with key players in and out of the lineup with injuries. The problem is that none of the teams they beat during that stretch have winning records.
In fact, Washington hasn’t beaten a team that currently has a winning record at all this year. They are 0-5 against teams that have a winning record today.
If the eastern conference continues to struggle as a whole and the Wizards can start consistently beating some of the premier teams in this league, which they showed they were capable of doing late last year once John Wall returned, then 50 games won is realistic goal.
But if the eastern conference begins to shape out, as most expect it to, and Washington can beat the teams that they are supposed to while getting an occasional win against some of the better teams, that should be good enough for about 45 wins and certainly a playoff appearance.
All of that is said given that the team can stay relatively healthy for the entire season.
It’s always good to set your goals above and beyond, so you can’t be mad at Gortat for his confidence.
Even if Washington falls short of 50 wins, they’ll still be in a pretty good situation.