It appears like such a very long time in the past that the Washington Wizards had been in first place within the Jap Convention, successful 13 of their first 20 video games. Since Nov. 29, nonetheless, Washington has gone 8-13, dropping all of it the way in which right down to ninth place within the East at 21-20. Discuss a fall from grace.
The Wizards had been one of many early shocks of the yr, together with the Chicago Bulls within the East. Chicago has continued upward and holds a 2.5-game lead over the Brooklyn Nets for first place within the convention. The Wizards have gone the alternative manner, and the chances of them getting this ship again heading in the right direction are slim.
It didn’t take lengthy for drama to floor within the Wizards’ locker room with teammates talking publicly about Bradley Beal and the variety of pictures he will get in comparison with others. Montrezl Harrell and Spencer Dinwiddie each voiced their dissatisfaction with how the offense is operating again in December. In equity to Beal, he takes three fewer pictures per recreation this yr than he did in both of the final two seasons. Clearly, this hasn’t been sufficient to maintain Washington on monitor.
Beal is averaging simply 24 ppg this season in 34 video games performed. That’s his lowest ppg for the reason that 2017-18 season. On high of that, Beal has been positioned into the NBA’s COVID health and safety protocol for the second time in lower than a month. Name it dangerous luck, funky karma, or no matter, however the final six weeks haven’t been form to the Wizards. Protection is by far one in every of their greatest flaws, rating twenty second in defensive score. With a lineup that options Beal, Harrell, and Dinwiddie coming off an ACL damage, it’s no marvel the group is struggling defensively.
It actually felt like they’d lastly achieved one thing proper within the trade for Russell Westbrook that introduced Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Kyle Kuzma over from the Lakers. They undoubtedly did the precise factor in buying and selling Westbrook, however the group simply hasn’t carried out as much as their early season normal of late. Beal scoring over 30 ppg didn’t work for Washington, and now he’s scoring a lot much less, and so they’re nonetheless on the wrestle bus. This franchise simply can’t catch a break.
In a report launched this morning by The Athletic, group sources instructed them a few fight in the locker room throughout halftime of Tuesday evening’s 122-118 win in opposition to the Thunder. Issues received bodily between Harrell and Caldwell-Pope after Harrell turned enraged over Caldwell-Pope not passing him the ball on a specific play within the first half. Though they received the win over OKC (which isn’t saying a lot), this newest locker room episode type of encapsulates the downward spiral this group has been trapped in since December. When it rains, it definitely does pour.
The Wizards are at present nonetheless within the play-in playoff image, however there’s no assure they’ll have the ability to keep afloat through the second half of the season. This can be a gifted group, and so they have some items round Beal now and must be taking part in significantly better than they’ve during the last month’s value of video games. It sounds prefer it could be time for a type of “notorious” players-only conferences as soon as Beal returns to the group from well being and security protocols.
Washington has some issues to deal with ASAP. Whether or not it’s the protection, the movement of the offense, or teammates squaring as much as throw down. There are nonetheless 41 video games left to get everybody again on the identical web page. Head coach Wes Unseld Jr. has an unlimited job on his arms with this group. We’ll see if they will get again into rivalry among the many high six within the East or in the event that they’ll do what the Wizards often do and fade off into oblivion.