Why the Wizards Are a Threat in the East
The Washington Wizards have quickly and quietly become one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. However, this sudden success can be attributed to more than the All-Star caliber play from John Wall and Bradley Beal in the backcourt (although they have played a role). An energy surge has grabbed hold of the organization and this team has caught fire, and they don’t seem to be cooling down anytime soon.
John Wall and Bradley Beal make up one of the top backcourt combinations in the NBA, behind the Splash Brothers in Golden State and narrowly behind Lowry and Derozan north of the border. Before the season, and after a rough start in October into November, there were questions regarding the lack of chemistry between the two. Any questions of that nature were completely erased as the season progressed, with both players averaging over twenty two points per game. The two guards have both been putting up All-Star numbers as they’ve lead the team to the third spot in the Eastern Conference, and Beal’s All-Star snub won’t be forgotten anytime soon.
Wall and Beal have been able to put up consistent scoring numbers, and combine to be one of the top five scoring backcourts in the NBA, trailing only Toronto, Portland, and Golden State.
However, where Beal and Wall have truly been able to separate themselves from the pack is their ability to pass and score. In addition to their elite scoring numbers, the duo have been able to set their teammates up for scoring opportunities as well.
When compared to the other top five scoring backcourts, the Wizard’s duo shows their prowess. Not only do they combine the be amongst the top five in scoring, they are also able to outclass the other top scoring backcourts with their assist numbers.
Fortunately, the scoring bug hasn’t been limited to the backcourt, as all five starters are averaging double figures. The young front court of Markieff Morris and Otto Porter has showcased their scoring potential that has been missing in recent years.
Otto Porter has been taking his sweet time developing as a scoring threat, as the former third overall pick and D.C. native had set a career high last season with just 11.6 points per game. This season, Porter has truly come into his own as an effective starter for the Wizards, as he’s set career highs in points, rebounds, field goal percentage, and three point percentage. In fact, Otto Porter is currently leading the league in three point percentage, with .465% of his shots going in from beyond the arc. His improvements have been dramatic and sudden, with a three point increase in PPG, a ten point increase in three point percentage, and an added rebound and a half per game.
Meanwhile, Markieff Morris has proved to be worth the trade that was made at last year’s deadline, as he too has become a reliable scorer and rebounder. Morris is establishing himself as a starter in this league with a career high in minutes and rebounds, and just under his career high in points.
On top of that, Marcin Gortat has continued to be an efficient and reliable big man, averaging a double- double, as is John Wall. The Wizards have built an actual team around John Wall, and so even if Wall has a down shooting night, he has scorers around him who are able to pick up the slack.
Scott Brooks inherited a team that had been playing .500 basketball and became dangerously close to becoming overly reliant on their superstar point guard. Drama and chaos was bubbling under the surface, but Brooks was able to unite the team and avoid disaster.
With John Wall playing like the MVP of the Eastern Conference, and the rest of the team sharing the scoring load, the Wizards have become a viable threat as the season enters its home stretch. You can count on one hand how many time the Wizards have lost in 2017 (five) and they show no signs of letting up. Though the team may be inexperienced in the playoffs, there’s reason to belief that the Wizards will be able to put together a deep run into the playoffs. That is, unless they find a way to choke, as is the status quo for postseasons in Washington D.C.