To some teams in today’s NBA, a 1-2 start might trouble them. Not for the Washington Wizards. The team opened up the regular season on the road with a slate against the Dallas Mavericks, Oklahoma City Thunder, and San Antonio Spurs. Historically the Wizards have struggled in those cities and that continued for the most part. The silver lining is that they did play hard and made their opponents work for it.
Washington could not quite complete the comeback against Dallas in a contest that saw Bradley Beal ejected late in the game. The Wizards picked up their lone win of the road trip in Scott Brooks’ old stomping grounds as they rattled off a late 14-0 run to take the game. In San Antonio, the Wizards remain winless there over the last 20 seasons, but it was a close contest where one whistle from the officials could have made the difference.
The Wizards have been prone to slow starts in years past. They were 1-7 to start last season and 2-8 to start the year three seasons ago. But those were different times. Those were teams that were underperforming with their eyes set on a deep playoff run. That’s not the case this season. It is all about development and the early returns have been good in that department.
As he said infamously in a heated practice, it all starts at the top. So even though Bradley Beal is already an established All-Star he can always still develop given his young age of 26. Scott Brooks has raved about that fact since arriving in D.C. One area where Beal is already looking better is his facilitating. He is already averaging 7.7 assists per game this season including dropping 11 dimes against the Spurs, which was one off tying his career-high.
It might only be three games and overall I think people should pump the brakes on him, but Rui Hachimura could not have had much better of a start to his rookie season. The ninth overall pick is averaging 16.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. He has not hit a three-pointer yet, but he is not bashful about getting his shots up with 16.3 field goal attempts per game.
Thomas Bryant has also looked good in spurts. He is averaging 15 points and 9.7 rebounds per game this season. Washington would love for their $25 million man to turn into a regular double-double machine that they used to have in Marcin Gortat. The Wizards are still a team that struggles on the boards and any bit that Bryant can help will always be desired.
Because the Spurs thought they were clearing cap space for Marcus Morris, they gave up Davis Bertans for next to nothing. Tommy Sheppard weaseled his way into San Antonio and Brooklyn’s trade to obtain Bertans and only gave up the draft rights to Aaron White to the Nets. The 27-year old continues to be a ridiculous sharpshooter. There are no hard feelings between Bertans and the Spurs, but you might not have been able to tell the way he drained five three-pointers in a perfect night from the field. Teaming Bertans with Beal and the eventual return of C.J. Miles could be a very lethal combination from deep.
Moe Wagner and Isaac Bonga have been receiving consistent rotation minutes. Bonga is averaging 6.3 points, 5 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game but has not been finishing halves despite his starting position. That is not to be unexpected for the 20-year old. Wagner is averaging 10.7 points and 4.3 rebounds per game, but needs to get his team-leading 4 turnovers per game under control.
With the impressive return of Isaiah Thomas (16 points and 5 assists in 20 minutes off the bench), there might not be many more minutes for Chris Chiozza or Justin Robinson. Garrison Mathews, too, for that matter as Thomas and Ish Smith shared the court at the same time against San Antonio. Expect them to get plenty of run with the Capital City Go-Go. Once Troy Brown Jr. and Miles return, Bonga as well as Admiral Schofield could be spending more time in Southeast, too. In the words of Bradley Beal, “teach is on” so don’t sweat Washington’s 1-2 start.
When healthy, Washington could have a decent rotation of Ish Smith, Bradley Beal, Troy Brown Jr., Rui Hachimura, Thomas Bryant, Isaiah Thomas, Jordan McRae, C.J. Miles, and Moe Wagner. I am not saying they are going to make the playoffs, but it could be closer than you might think in a weak Eastern Conference.