Washington Wizards forward Markieff Morris has a level of belief in his team that some may argue borders on the irrational.

During Wizards media day, Morris told reporters the Boston Celtics “[have] never been better than us.”

The Celtics were 12 games better than the Wizards in 2017-18, and Boston also beat Washington in the second round of the 2017 NBA playoffs.

To be fair, the last thing Morris’ teammates would want to hear on media is him speaking deferentially toward the Celtics and calling Boston the superior team.

Wizards star John Wall spoke to Yahoo Sports’ Michael Lee in August and posited the Wizards are at least on equal footing with the Celtics, Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers:

“On paper, everybody looks great. We look great. 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? Nobody knows how that’s going to work. Now, 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. But you still got to put it all together. You’ve still got to make it work on the court. We don’t know how Kawhi [Leonard] is going to work. We know what [Ben] Simmons and [Joel] Embiid are going to give you, but it’s a new year.”

Still, any neutral observer would have to put the Celtics ahead of the Wizards in the East hierarchy.

Wall isn’t off base when he says Boston may have an adjustment period as Stevens works Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward back into the rotation. The question is especially true in Hayward’s case since he played a total of five minutes in 2017-18.

But Stevens has more than earned the benefit of the doubt by now.

The Celtics had to replace Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder, all of whom were integral pieces of a 53-win team and Eastern Conference finalist in 2016-17. In spite of that, as well as the injuries to Irving and Hayward, the team’s record improved by two wins.

And for the Wizards, continuity only counts for so much when you’ve failed to hit 50 wins or advance past the second round of the playoffs in any of the last five seasons.

Trading Marcin Gortat for Austin Rivers was a net-positive for Washington, and Dwight Howard remains a double-double machine. Together, those moves don’t raise the Wizards’ ceiling all that much, though.

Perhaps Morris and his teammates will ultimately have the last laugh when all is said and done in 2018-19. But his evaluation of the current Wizards-Celtics dynamic is a bit wide of the mark, and it’s hard to see when it might actually prove true.

Courtesy: Bleacher Report


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