The Eastern Conference has a chance to smile once again after LeBron James’ stronghold has come to an end after he bolted for the Los Angeles Lakers this summer.
John Wall and the Washington Wizards are among some who hope to take over the East’s crown, now with a clear path to the NBA Finals.
“I think we have a better team now, and the East is more wide-open now that [LeBron James is] out of the picture,” John Wall said Friday, according to Yaron Weitzman of Bleacher Report.
Most analysts expect the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, and the Toronto Raptors to come out of the East en route to the NBA Finals, but Wall thinks his team has improved as well and could do much better than last postseason if he and his teammates can avoid injuries coming into the playoffs.
“I think we could have competed the last two years if we didn’t have to deal with injuries,” Wall said, having missed half the season last year after undergoing a surgical procedure on his left knee, back in January. “Falling to the eight seed, playing Toronto, a heck of a team, I felt like we should have beaten those guys, but they came out the better team at that time.”
The Wizards have added two difference makers in Dwight Howard and Austin Rivers, while still boasting capable scorers in Bradley Beal and Otto Porter Jr.
“I think the way the league is going, you need athletic bigs, you need scoring off the bench, you need all of those types of things,” Wall had told reporters after a loss to the Raptors, which paved the way for the Marcin Gortat trade for Rivers.
If this team is indeed engineered to Wall’s liking, it shouldn’t be a surprise to see this new-look Wizards team challenging for that Eastern Conference crown.