The Washington Wizards Are Streaking
The Washington Wizards are the hottest team in the East, with John Wall and Bradley Beal becoming one of the best backcourts in the league
On Tuesday December 6th, the Washington Wizards were coming off a loss at home to the lottery bound Orlando Magic.
They lost despite a career-high 52 points from John Wall, and it brought the Wizards record to 7-13. Since then, though, they’re arguably the hottest team in the NBA.
That horrible loss, combined with a lackluster start to the season, brought big questions to the Nation’s Capital. Many questioned if Wall and Bradley Beal could ever co-exist, if Scott Brooks was the right coach and whether Otto Porter would finally be labeled a bust?
Since that loss, though, the Wizards are 22-7 and have been one of the hottest teams in the East. Washington is now 29-20 and sit in the 3rd seed of the Eastern Conference, in a tie with the Toronto Raptors.
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So, how have the Wizards undergone such a dramatic turnaround in less than two months?
First, it begins with the perfect mix of Wall and Beal, who have both taken their games to the next level. Individually, they are each playing the best basketball of their careers.
Wall is averaging a career-high 22.7 points per game and a career-high 10.3 assists per game. He is still not a great three-point shooter, but he makes up for it with lethal quickness; he is still among the fastest players in the league. Wall kills teams in transition, and is getting to the free throw line more this year, shooting a career-high 81 percent from the charity stripe.
Beal, on the other hand, continues to improve his game and has taken it to new heights. Like Wall, Beal is also averaging a career-high 22 points and 3.6 assists.
However, more than anything, it’s the little things that have led to his improvement. Beal has learned how to spot up perfectly off as the off-man in pick-and-rolls. In these situations, if the first action doesn’t work, he has become a capable playmaker out of a secondary pick-and-roll.
Wall and Beal gave us glimpses of their potential in the 2014 playoffs by knocking off the Chicago Bulls. In 2015, they probably would have been in the Eastern Conference Finals, if Wall didn’t hurt his hand against Atlanta.
Now, though, it’s finally all coming together and that potential is becoming a reality.
But it’s not just Beal and Wall that are clicking. Let’s not forget the other guys.
Otto Porter, believe it or not, is leading the NBA in three-point percentage, at 46 percent. Markieff Morris is shooting a career-high 35 percent from distance and averaging a career high seven boards per game, finally solidifying the 4 spot for the Washington Wizards.
Marcin Gortat is still going strong, and is a brute offensive rebounder. He’s also a solid pick-and-roll option for Wall. When you look at how much the team has improved recently, it’s not outrageous to say that the Wizards have one of the best starting fives in the East.
Now, the bench is still not great but Kelly Oubre Jr, Trey Burke and Jason Smith have played well enough that they’re no longer blowing leads. Perhaps that’s where Scott Brooks’ value comes into play.
With the bench playing good enough, along with a lethal backcourt, and a more than capable supporting cast, this team could very well end up being one of the biggest threats to the Cavs in the East.
The Washington Wizards are more than capable of snagging the two-seed in the Eastern Conference and could make a deep run in the playoffs, potentially to the Conference Finals. The Wizards have finally arrived and over the last few weeks they’ve been putting the East and the rest of the League on notice.