John Wall and these Wizards are here to stay

So before the 2013-14 season started, I wrote about John Wall predicting the Wizards would be in the playoffs. I agreed with him, but that was about all I got right. Look at these young Wizards now.

Forget making the playoffs. Washington seems poised to make some serious noise in the postseason.

Wall is at the top of his game, but just as valuable as his statistics, has been his development into a true leader for the Wizards these season. He gets it now. No more pounding the ball into the ground. Wall finished second in the NBA with 8.8 assists per game this season, while also averaging a career high 19.3 points.

In just his second season in the league, Bradley Beal has taken his game to the next level as well. Beal improved statistically in practically all categories from his rookie year. Wall and Beal are clearly one of the best backcourts in the NBA. Oh, and they are 23 and 20-years-old respectively. Get used to seeing the Wiz dominate first-round series' over quality opponents like the Bulls.

In a series where many felt Chicago would prevail, Washington stole all three games at the United Center, winning the series in five games. At this point, it would be a surprise not to see the Wizards facing off against the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. They will either be matched up with the eighth-seeded Hawks or the woeful Pacers in the next round. Regardless of the opponent, expect Washington to be favored.

That brings us to Miami. Wouldn't it be something if the Wizards were able to get past the mighty Heat? Realistically, however, that is just too much to ask. Everyone expects to see LeBron James and company competing in their fourth straight NBA Finals. But a trip to the ECF, and a competitive showing against Miami would have to be considered a wildly successful season for Washington -- exactly where I see their season going.

No matter how the balance of power shifts in the Eastern Conference in coming years, these Wizards are here to stay. Expect this playoff run to be one of many in the John Wall era.

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