Wednesday 23 August 2017 / 01:03 AM

BEWARE…THE WIZARDS HAVE ARRIVED

Take a second to disengage yourself from March Madness, the long drip of the NBA season, or whatever is ailing you in your daily life and let me give you some news that you really need to here: fear the Washington Wizards.

No, Kevin Durant didn’t decide to sign with his hometown team after all, and Michael Jordan didn’t come back again (you remember those Wizard days, right? Seriously, go Google it).

No, I’m not talking about the Wizards maybe sneaking into the postseason and trying to take the Raptors to seven games. Let me clarify for those that may be casual fans, and just generally not paying attention: the Wizards are sitting at third in the Eastern Conference. They’re on pace for 50 wins, and could easily end up with the second overall seed.

Yes, that same underachieving bunch from the last few years that saw dysfunction so heavy that Durant wouldn’t even meet with them is now knocking on the door of the heir apparent to challenge Cleveland.

But these guys aren’t just a feel good story. The Wizards have arrived.

The Wizards super duo of John Wall and Bradley Beal drew ire from critics last year and in the offseason when they professed that they believed they were the best guard tandem in the NBA. With both of them staying injured, especially Beal, the NBA world has looked at the duo as a great “What if?”

Instead, they’ve turned into the present. Beal has remained healthy all year, and revived his game. The worries of whether Wall and Beal could play together have subsided, with serious conversations about just how good these guys can be.

And Wall has been otherworldly. Always a stats fiend, Wall has quietly put up his best statistical season, putting up higher assists, steals, blocks, and points than season prior. He’s been borderline-MVP worthy in any other year that didn’t feature James Harden or LeBron James.

The two have been magical (no pun intended), and are breaking defenses down at an alarming rate. Couple that with the immergence of a suddenly offensively-competent Otto Porter, and the Wizards have a back court that can keep them in all their games.

They’ve run away with the Southeast Division, and their bench is playing out of their mind. Brandon Jennings has returned to form from his star days before, and Ian Mahinmi and Jason Smith are great in relief of Marcin Gortat.

But the tandem of Porter and Kelly Oubre Jr. is what really turns opponents around, with two ridiculously athletic and gifted forwards running wild in space every second of the time on the floor.

And the added depth of Bojan Bogdanovic has further supplied them with shooting, as he’s increased his three point percentage to over 40% since the Wizards landed him, and with that burst off the bench, there’s no time from breathing for any of the Wizards opponents.

Which is why they’ve become so deadly. Just in the last few weeks, the Wizards have hammered the Hawks both on the road and at home, went to Boston and gave them a fight, split a series with Toronto, and just tonight, they made quick work of the defending champ Cavaliers in convincing fashion.

And despite how impressive that is, it’s not just that they are winning: it’s how they’re winning.

John Wall has torched all in his way, lighting up Isaiah Thomas and Kyrie Irving in embarrassing fashion just in the last week. And the depth of the Wizards is incredible, pacing teams in the second unit even with Wall and Beal on the bench.

And with the Celtics struggles to guard at the point guard spots, the Wizards look like a bad matchup in the postseason. But so do the defending champs, who’ve been left looking lifeless on defense the last two teams they took on the Wiz, and needed a miraculous shot from LeBron to win the last meeting.

And with the Wizards rolling like no other playoff team, they look like the new kids on the block heading into the postseason. But if Wall and company keep dealing the way they are right now, they’ll own the block this time in June.

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About the author

Austin Albertson

Austin is CBS' senior NFL and NBA analyst, bringing you commentary on everything between the lines and inside the hashes, from the film room to the scoreboard.

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