Mar 7 2013 12:10PM

Washington D, See?


D. Clarke Evans/NBAE/Getty Images

While the White House and Republicans debate the merits of sequestration, defense cuts, et cetera, there are some other major players in Washington who have ramped up their own department of defense in a surprising way.

Meet the great and powerful Wizards, who have taken the NBA by storm and stunned all by presenting a Top 10 defensive squad this season (now ranking eighth on the charts, with a bullet and rising).

Call them the wonderful Wizards of D because, unlike the Wizard of Oz, they are not pulling off this illusion with smokescreens.

Just a consistent chisel-to-the-grindstone mentality, even in the face of adversity.

Since a healthy Nene and John Wall returned to the Washington lineup January 12, these Wizards have posted the third-most efficient defense in the NBA, allowing only 97.2 points per 100 possessions.

Let me repeat: THIRD! BEST! DEFENSE!

It is why Washington has gone 14-12 in these 26 games and why you have to give Randy Wittman some consideration for 2012-13 Coach of the Year, only two months have some were wondering whether they should change coaches after a 4-28 start.

And it's not that Washington was playing bad defensively in those previous games. The Wizards still ranked 12th in defense prior to January 12 in the 48 combined games that Wall and Nene missed.

It's just that with Nene and Wall back on D, Washington now is among the best--during this two-month stretch--at denying baskets from all over the court (ranking fourth in three-point percentage and fifth in effective field goal percentage).

You would be hard-pressed to find another big-and-small duo as laterally quick on defending the pick-and-roll as the fleet-afoot Nene and Wall.

That is one of the reasons why their most-used and most-successful lineup this year of Wall, rookie Bradley Beal, Martell Webster, Emeka Okafor and Nene has a magical 82.2 defensive rating in 116 minutes.

That same quintet is outscoring foes at a +23.3 rate per 48 minutes and is the primary reason why Washington has legit hopes for the 2014 NBA Playoffs.