Howard and Morris continue streak of ex-Wizards getting rings originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
It's a classic pipeline, like Georgetown once was with star NBA centers or Second City to SNL. The Wizards have become a factory that consistently produces championship bench players.
On Sunday night, as the Lakers won the 2019-20 title, four former Wizards players were there celebrating on the court at Disney World in Orlando. Dwight Howard and Markieff Morris, who played for Washington last year, were joined by JaVale McGee and Jared Dudley. That's four of the 12 players that appeared in the 2020 NBA Finals for the Lakers, so a third of their roster.
In fact, this was the fourth straight year the NBA champion had at least one former Wizards player in the fold. And during that four-year span, no other NBA team has had more former players win rings than the Wizards, who have seen it happen seven times.
Howard, Morris and Dudley each got their first rings. McGee now has three, having won two with the Warriors. Shaun Livingston and Nick Young also won with the Warriors, Livingston twice, while Jodie Meeks won last year with the Raptors.
Dwight Howard in tears: “I won a championship.” pic.twitter.com/XkLXS1hzY1— Quinton Mayo (@RealQuintonMayo) October 12, 2020
The question here is whether it means anything. And the answer is almost certainly not. Basically, it's a trend of the Wizards seeing players find more success elsewhere when asked to serve in smaller roles.
Many of these players were acquired by the Wizards to start or be their sixth man. Some of them were castoffs before signing with their title teams on cheap contracts, looking to extend their NBA careers.
Wizards fans didn't seem to complain much at all when these guys left. Livingston may be the only one who feels like he got away, and he played for Washington two different times.
In Howard's case, it was just really bad luck and timing. He signed as a free agent with the Wizards before the 2018-19 season, only to require major surgery on his back. He only played nine games and the hole he left in their lineup was big enough to crater the season and lose the team president his job.
Morris was a good player for the Wizards at his peak, but by the time he left in a trade in Feb. of 2019, injuries had derailed his time in D.C. After serving as a key piece on the 2016-17 team, he could never reclaim that form.
This is a mood. Refer to Markieff Morris as a champion. He’s got a cigar in his other hand and is taking puffs of the cigar between gulps. pic.twitter.com/sZtAlHxCxQ— Ohm Youngmisuk (@NotoriousOHM) October 12, 2020
In Los Angeles, though, both Howard and Morris were pivotal pieces. Howard averaged a fairly ridiculous 7.3 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in just 18.9 minutes per game off the bench. Morris signed with the Lakers in late February and gave them another shooter. He knocked down 41.7 percent of his threes in the postseason.
While Howard and Morris battled injuries in Washington, they got healthy at the right time in L.A. That's just how it goes in sports; timing and luck are factors.
So, go ahead, Wizards fans; be happy for these players you used to root for who left Washington for greener pastures. And keep an eye on which former Wizards players sign where this offseason. Perhaps the streak will continue.