PREVIOUSLY APPEARING ON WTOP.COM-the sports department wrote “fantasy pieces” on the next DC area team to win a championship (we all know the correct answer is the Washington Kastles)…and I drew the Wiz.

Do not make vacation plans next spring.  Plan on purchasing red, white and blue shorts for next June’s championship parade.  Or at the very latest a parade in 2018…when those shorts will still be in fashion.  Yes, the Washington Wizards are that close to winning an NBA Championship.

This year’s playoff miss?  Merely a bend in the road as opposed to an end of the road for this young nucleus.  Coach Randy Wittman has to be credited for building a new culture and playoff contender, but he wasn’t the guy to take this team to the next level.  It happens often in the NBA when a Rick Carlisle (2004 Pistons), KC Jones (70’s Bullets) or Avery Johnson (2008 Mavericks) outlives their usefulness…and the next guy gets it done.  Brooks is a proven winner, an sharper tactician and a better communicator than his predecessor and that will help this team reach not only the conference finals for the first time since 1979 but win a title for the first time since 1978.  Has it really been that long?

The Wizards title run begins with point guard John Wall.  The Former #1 draft pick remains the catalyst on both ends of the floor and Brooks will get to the All-Star and make him more vigilant defensively and a better game manager offensively.  Sometimes a different voice spurs a player from very good to great.  Bradley Beal should shake the injury bug after being handcuffed the last few years and flourish.  No longer hampered by not getting along with his coach, Marcin Gortat will show us why this team is paying him 12 million dollars a season.  Otto Porter, Markieff Morris and Kelly Oubre will benefit from a new coach as well.

The big boost comes this summer in the form of free agent fish.  We all know that the big fish is Kevin Durant…and if the Montrose Christian product elects to return to DC this team will be mentioned in the same breath as the Cleveland Cavaliers.  Even if they don’t land Durant, there are more than a few productive pieces out there that can contribute to the Wall-Beal guided nucleus.

The road to the title is a little easier as the “Washington” means the district and not the state.  The Eastern Conference is a little more manageable than the West…with two teams winning over 50 regular season games this year.  Even though Lebron James and whichever coach he wants at the moment resides in Cleveland (for now), the Cavaliers are getting older.  Toronto?  The Raptors are a couple of free agent defections away from being .500-and don’t think that won’t happen with Canadian taxes and weather coming into play.  A retooled and refocused team plus the right coach doesn’t have that much to leapfrog in order to be playing for a title next June.  And it will be against a Western Conference team battered from three rough rounds.  Sometimes luck and where you live make just enough of a difference.

So buy your lawn chairs for the parade.  Update your wardrobe so your Wizards t-shirt fits.  And by all means get some sunscreen.  Because it will be sunny and hot on the day this team holds its NBA Championship parade.  I’ve even purchased red, white and blue colored lenses for my glasses.  In fact, I’m wearing them now.