When the Washington Wizards admopted the phrase "D.C. Rising" during the playoffs a few seasons ago, it was assumed that they'd be, well, rising.
But with 2017 drawing to a close, it seems the Wizards are right where they've always been: stuck in the middle.
They have a more-than-decent roster, they have a coach who knows what he's doing, and they have stretches where they appear to be pulling it together. But, seemingly out of nowhere, they reveal their mediocre tendencies all over again.
For a star like John Wall, that's got to be frustrating. And Thursday night, he let some of that frustration leak out, speaking out about his team's performances against the NBA's bottom-feeders:
"We say when we play these teams that are not above .500 or not one of the great teams, we go out there playing for stats. It's simple as that. We can see it. I think we all can see it when we play."
This season alone, the Wizards have lost games to the Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks, Charlotte Hornets, Utah Jazz, Brooklyn Nets, and the league's worst team, the Atlanta Hawks.
And with a record of 19-14, they haven't exactly been too glamerous against the NBA's better teams, either.
For years, Washington has been one of those teams trapped in the middle -- that is, making the playoffs, but not doing so great once they're there. If the team wants any hope of ensuring their stars stay there long-term, they better hope they can change that, before it's too late.