John Wall is coming off a career season in which he led the Washington Wizards to the playoffs for the first time since 2008 and the second round for the first time since 2005. He made his first All-Star team, and now he's fighting for a spot on Team USA at training camp in Las Vegas. Asked what his goals were for next year, he aimed quite high.
"The Finals," Wall said, via the Washington Post's Michael Lee. "We've been to the second round. We know what it takes to win. We know what we need to do. We know everybody needs to get better individually, and I think [the front office] just did a great job of adding pieces, great veteran guys that know what it takes to win."
The Wizards are on the way up. They won 44 games in 2013-2014, and in the postseason shooting guard Bradley Beal -- also at Team USA training camp -- showed signs of stardom. Wall and Beal might have the best backcourt in the whole league, and if summer league is any indication, they'll get much more out of Otto Porter and Glen Rice Jr. in their second seasons. It hurt to lose Trevor Ariza, but Washington recovered with Paul Pierce and addressed depth on the inside by bringing in Kris Humphries and DeJuan Blair.
None of this means the Wizards are going to win the East, and no one is predicting that. What they are, though, is solid at every position and balanced extremely well. The core guys have continuity, and the young ones should improve. With LeBron James going to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the conference looks more wide open than it has in years. Sure, the Finals are a stretch, but Wall has reason to be optimistic.