Last gasp? Or a team on the rise?
We don’t know yet, but a memo to critics – like myself – don’t bury the Washington Wizards just yet.
Over the past week, they have gone 3-2 with wins over Brooklyn, Denver, and Milwaukee. Following the loss to Orlando in which John Wall scored a career-high 52 points, Brian Windhorst of ESPN fanned the flames of the rumor about Wall wanting out of D.C. Local airwaves dissected his comments, which I found to be truthful and benign, about the team needing to play like they hadn’t made it big yet. His message was to get back to playing the game like when they cared and focus on the fundamentals.
Following the “controversy”, the Wizards played significantly better as a whole and won two straight games. While they are still fourth in the Southeast division and just lost a game last night to the Miami Heat, the only team behind them in the standings, lets focus on the positives of what has been working and how this team can find some level of continued success moving forward.
The team’s success is reliant upon the production from its three best players; John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter. Wall has had a fantastic season individually. Thus far in December, he’s gone to another level by averaging more than 27 points per game with 10 assists and is shooting over 48% from the field. For the first time all season, he seems to be getting some consistent help from the team’s second star.
Beal has looked more like a max player in December averaging 22 points per game on 47.4% from the field and the exact same clip from three-point range. He doesn’t bring much else to the table in terms of assists or rebounds, so in order for the team to be successful, they’ll need him to compensate for his lack of other box score stuffing numbers by continuing to average anywhere from the low to mid-twenties as far as points and continue to shoot as close to 50% from the field as possible.
— Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It) December 6, 2016
As much as Beal doesn’t stuff the box score, Otto Porter does. He is having a career year with 13.7 points per game on an impressive 54% field goal percentage and 41% three point percentage, 7 rebounds per game including 2 on the offensive glass, nearly two steals and a block per game. What’s most telling about his growth has been his effort and hustle. Porter has consistently been running the floor and doing things that help him end up on highlight reels with Wall usually feeding him on a fast break dunk. He is being rewarded for his efforts. On the flip side, he’s also doing things that don’t show up on Sportscenter, such as fighting through screens consistently, making correct switches on defense, and putting for the effort from not only the small forward positon but power forward as well to continue to contribute.
The Wizards season clearly hasn’t turned out to be what was expected. The trio of Wall-Beal-Porter was supposed to elevate them to the level of a third or fourth playoff seed. The disappointing start has soured fans to the point of many not even checking their phones to keep track of the final scores or check for highlights. However, the season is not over yet and the team is showing signs of life. Will it be enough to get back into the playoff chase and bring fans back to their TV sets, and maybe even to the arena? Time will tell. They will need their best players to remain healthy and giving their best effort.
For now, let’s give the local team a pat on the back for showing that they have the potential to turn things around.