October 26, 2018 | Golden 1 Center | Sacramento, CA
I wholeheartedly thought it was unfair to say the Washington Wizards got off to a terrible start when they were 1-3 four games into the 82-game season. After an embarrassing loss to the Sacramento Kings, my tone is beginning to change. For a team that knows that they struggled against sub-.500 teams last season, they seemingly have not done anything to fix the issue. Dwight Howard coming back is not going to fix that either. The East is bad enough where Washington can probably play poorly and still make the post-season, but if they do not straighten up soon, it is unlikely they truly content. As if we were watching a bad re-run from last season, Scott Brooks offered up the same old excuses of offense dictating defense and him needing to find players that are willing to consistently commit.
Bradley Beal is having it rough
Against Golden State, the All-Star shooting guard left the game with a bruised sternum that had him breathing funny. He sported some kind of chest protector under his jersey to start the game before ditching it midway through Friday’s game. Then on a drive to the basket he fell backwards into a camera to the back of the head. On the court, Beal struggled, too. He finished with 21 points, but on a poor 6-of-19 (31.6 percent) shooting including 3-for-11 (27.3 percent) from deep. He also had five turnovers, two of which came costly in the final minutes of the game. Beal was just 2-for-12 and 1-for-8 from deep in the first half before putting a few solid minutes together after intermission. Maybe he was feeling the effects of not being 100 percent, but Washington needs him to be more consistent going forward, which he is very well capable of.
Kelly Oubre shining out West
The first two games of the season were not great for Oubre as he had 17 points on 5-of-16 shooting including just 1-of-7 from deep. In the three games to start the West Coast road trip, the wing has been lighting it up. Oubre has totaled 61 points on 22-of-36 (61.1 percent) shooting including 11-of-17 (64.7 percent) from beyond the arc. Scott Brooks said it best – Oubre is playing his best basketball in the Brooks’ era, which basically means he is playing is best ball of his NBA career. That is certainly part of the reason why Otto Porter only played 22 minutes, the third time he has played under 25 minutes through five games this season, but that is borderline unacceptable for a guy making $26 million this season.
Better rotations from Scott Brooks
For the first time this season, Jason Smith was a DNP – coach’s decision. That needs to continue to be the case. Despite his kind soul and enthusiastic body, he cannot really compete in today’s NBA if his jumper is not falling given his poor defense. It is still mind boggling that Ernie Grunfeld and staff gave Smith a three-year deal with a player option. With Smith out of the rotation, Brooks avoided putting out an all-bench lineup and had Jeff Green and Markieff Morris play minutes at backup center. It worked decently although Sacramento had 53 rebounds including 14 on the offensive glass. When Howard does return, the all-bench lineup may reappear, but hopefully not for too long.
Next Game: The Wizards will see old friend Marcin Gortat (and Mike Scott) as they face the Clippers on Sunday night.