Before starting the 2021 NBA season, the Washinton Wizards decided to go in another direction, trading their franchise player John Wall for Russell Westbrook and turning around a new page. That brought Bradley Beal a new partner in crime in the backcourt, as a certain buzz arose in D.C. for a team that could maybe make a playoff run because of the star duo surrounded by a solid group of role players.
But unfortunately for the Wizards, the season started horrendously, losing their first five games and getting to a 3-12 record, immediately losing respect from many experts. Things went wrong quickly, losing many games, being hit with injuries, playing absolutely no defense, Westbrook playing pretty bad and non-efficient, and Bradley Beal giving it his all just to lose the games, as he looked very frustrated. All that resulted in the Wizards sinking to the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
Look at them now! They were on a 5-game winning streak, as they beat the defending champions Lakers on the road the other night. After that win, the Wizards improved their record to 11-17, with the #8 seed and the playoffs are just two games back. Despite losing to the Clippers last night, the questions arise – can they turn around their season, and what they need to do to maintain this good form?
The first thing is Westbrook shooting a lot fewer threes. He has shot just nine of them on that 5-game winning streak, proving once again his teams just play better when he doesn’t pretend he is an outside shooter. The second key thing is their role players finally getting comfortable and finding how they can help the team win. This is where Westbrook’s leadership made a difference.
You have to consider that this team has been hit hard with injuries (Thomas Bryant) and especially Covid protocols, causing them to not even practice for quite some time. But now they are getting into their groove a bit, as the star duo of Beal and Westbrook, supported by a solid supporting cast, could sneak into the playoffs and give us an exciting matchup in the first round of the playoffs. We will see if they can keep it up.