The Washington Wizards’ 2020-21 season could not have started worse and it started when they traded away John Wall and a protected first-round pick for Russell Westbrook in December. Davis Bertans’s visa, Rui Hachimura’s pink eye, Thomas Bryant’s knee, Russell Westbrook’s quad, and a six-player COVID-19 outbreak later and Washington is 3-10, the worst record in the NBA. Here are five takeaways and Scott Brooks, Bradley Beal, and Russell Westbrook’s post-game media availability.
John Wall revenge game
There is no denying there is blood bad between the Washington Wizards and John Wall. The five-time All-Star felt that he was lied to by the organization he sacrificed his body for. On a minutes restriction returning from knee soreness that was primarily maintenance, Wall scored 24 points on 9-for-21 shooting and had five assists in 24 minutes of play. The efficiency may not have been there but the spark and flash were highlighted by a behind-the-back move and finish in the second quarter. By the fourth quarter, Wall was all smiles and chirping with Westbrook with victory within his grasp against his former team, he will certainly savor this one.
Nine times out of ten, the Wizards’ offense is not going to be the primary reason they lost a game. It may even play second fiddle to allowing 32 fourth-quarter points to the Rockets, but just 88 points are the fewest Washington has scored in over three years. The culprit was sub-40 percent shooting from the field, 5-for-26 (19.2 percent) shooting from the three-point line, and 21 turnovers that Houston turned into 24 points.
Russell Westbrook remains inefficient
A statistic that no NBA player wants to be a part of, scoring only as many points as shot attempts from the field. Through nine games this season that the Wizards are 1-8 in, Westbrook has just 163 points on 163 shot attempts. Seemingly settling for jump shots instead of aggressively attacking the basket, possibly due to his lingering quad injury since training camp, the former MVP looks far from it. Westbrook was 4-for-4 in the restricted area and 3-for-10 away from the rim to go with 11 rebounds, seven assists, and six turnovers in 28 minutes against his former team. Scott Brooks has maintained that his former prodigy will play better, but that has yet to be seen in a season that will run out of time soon.
Bradley Beal not giving up yet
Periodically and more often since the end of the 2016-17 season, Beal can be seen on the bench looking deflated. That happened again after losing to his former backcourt mate and of course, social media had a field day with it. When asked about his level of confidence given the 3-10 start, he said this.
“I’m always confident. No human being takes my confidence, that’s for sure. I feel the same about our group. We got a lot of tough breaks for us. It’s a weird season, weird camp, COVID hit us hard, we have a lot of guys that we just called up. A lot of stuff for us is on the fly, but it’s no excuse. I got to be better, got to lead better, I got to scrap up some wins.”
Help on the way?
As of Tuesday, Scott Brooks shared that four of the six Wizards that previously tested positive for COVID-19 returned to the practice facility in D.C. for 1-on-0 and 1-on-1 drills. It is possible that some could return for Washington’s two-game homestand on Friday vs. Atlanta and/or Sunday vs. Brooklyn. As is the case with the current Wizards, there will be an ease in period to get reaccustomed with basketball after three weeks off for these players. It will not be pretty immediately and/or eventually, but additional bodies available in the rotation is the smallest luxury Washington would like to have again.