John Wall is positive the Wizards will compete for an Eastern Conference title once again in 2018-19, and while everyone else seems to be picking the Celtics to win, the 27-year-old guard isn’t so sure it will be as easy for them as everyone thinks.
“Boston looks great on paper. But how are all those young guys going to mesh with Kyrie [Irving] being back? Or Gordon Hayward being back?” Wall told Yahoo Sports. “Nobody knows how that’s going to work.”
The Celtics made it to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2017-18 without Irving or Hayward on the court at all. Adding those two players to some combination of Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Terry Rozier, Al Horford and Marcus Morris appears to be a formidable roster.
However, those guys played together for all of six minutes in last season’s opener before Hayward suffered a season-ending leg injury. They haven’t played together much and that is what Wall is banking on.
What he isn’t taking for granted is how good Boston is on the bench and in the box.
“They’ve got a hell of a coach in Brad Stevens, and (with GM and president) Danny Ainge, they’re going to figure it out,” he said. “But you still got to put it all together.”
With the departure of LeBron James to the Lakers, the Eastern Conference is wide open. James won eight straight conference finals with the Heat and the Cavaliers. Now the conference is up for grabs.
The Wizards finished 2017-18 with a 43-39 record and the No. 8 seed in the East. They bowed out in the first round to the Raptors in six games.
However, Wall fully believes the Wizards have a chance to go to Washington’s first NBA Finals appearance since 1977-78 when the team was still dubbed the Bullets.
“I think this is deepest team we’ve had and I feel very comfortable with this team,” Wall told Yahoo Sports. “Everybody is going to put Boston No. 1, because that’s what you’re supposed to. They had a hell of a season with those guys coming back. You’ve got Philly, they got their pieces. I feel like those top four, those top five — you can’t forget Milwaukee, what they have with Giannis [Antetokounmpo] — I feel like it’s all cluttered. I put us right there.”