The Washington Wizards lost their second preseason game, 97-86 against the Detroit Pistons at home. Here are five takeaways and you can watch the team’s post-game availability including Deni Avdija, Bradley Beal, and Scott Brooks below.
Defense Lacking Early
For the entirety of the Scott Brooks era, Washington has not been a great defensive team. Last year they were one of the worst in history and a rapid improvement will be needed to reach their full potential in 2020-21. According to Bradley Beal, Brooks got his message across after the game with a warranted cursing out. Before the midway point of the second quarter, the Pistons already had 51 points. Detroit had three double-digit scorers by intermission with Blake Griffin not having even attempted a shot. That defense will not get it done this season.
Bradley Beal Returns
The Wizards’ franchise player appeared in an NBA game for the first time since March 10, over nine months ago before the shutdown for COVID-19. Similar to what the team is doing with Russell Westbrook, Beal was eased into play logging just 16 first-half minutes. The two-time All-Star had 10 points on 4-for-11 shooting, 1-for-5 from deep. Without Westbrook, Rui Hachimura (pink eye), and Davis Bertans, Detroit blitzed Beal with double and triple teams every chance they got and it worked. Always eager, Beal wanted to play in the second half, but Brooks said no so the Gator got a lift in instead.
Deni Avdija Falls Back To Earth
And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. The rookie could not have scripted a better preseason debut, going 6-for-6, but the law of averages are undefeated. In 32 minutes off the bench, Avdija had 7 points on 3-for-8 shooting, 0-4 from three. He did fill the stat sheet with five rebounds, three assists, two steals, and three turnovers. Although a bit defensive post-game, the 19-year old has plenty to be proud about early in his young NBA career so there is no reason for discouragement ever this season.
Isaac Bonga Shows His Worth
My odds on favorite to start on Wednesday in Philadelphia at small forward for Washington is Isaac Bonga. He has some experience in that role just last season and brings the Wizards much needed defense. He has put on a bit of muscle to be able to compete against the Blake Griffins of the world, hustling his way to a steal early in Thursday’s preseason matchup. On the second unit, he could become a non-factor as the bench will need scorers and playmakers (where the likes of Troy Brown Jr. and Deni Avdija can fit well). The rest of the Wizards’ starting unit of Russell Westbrook, Bradley Beal, Rui Hachimura, and Thomas Bryant is not going to struggle to score the ball. Bonga’s 10 points on 4-for-6 shooting including two corner three-pointers is gravy.
Washington Finalizes Opening Night Roster
Scott Brooks was abnormally late to complete his post-game availability after Thursday’s game. Deni Avdija and Bradley Beal had already completed their media obligations in a separate room. Brooks explained at the end of his availability that he had to speak with Yoeli Childs, Caleb Homesley, and Marlon Taylor as the team released them. This was not unexpected as they were training camp attendees that may now stick around with the Capital City Go-Go (who are looking at a potential joint team to play in the G League bubble with a $500k buy-in). The Wizards now have 14 players under guaranteed contracts, Anzejs Pasecniks on a partially guaranteed deal, and Garrison Mathews plus Cassius Winston on two-way deals.