The Wizards just pulled off an unlikely victory over the Los Angeles Lakers last night. Led by Bradley Beal’s clutch scoring and a monster 30-point game by Russell Westbrook, the Wizards knocked off the Lakers who were without Anthony Davis.
The result against the champion Lakers marked the 5th straight win by the Wizards, a team that was the worst in the league just a few weeks ago.
After looking completely embarrassing on the court, the team is clicking on all cylinders and the duo of Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook is coming together. The Wizards are putting the league on notice, and here are the 5 reasons why they will fight back to make the playoffs this season.
5. Davis Bertans Is Better Off The Bench
Bertans signed a massive $80-milion contract to return to the Wizards this offseason, and it raised a ton of eyebrows across the league. Bertans is a great shooter, but he does not offer much else for the Wizards right now. Washington need defenders and Bertans is, unfortunately, a liability on that end.
But Bertans is still a capable offensive player, as he is averaging 11.3 PPG on 37.2% 3-point shooting this season. While that is nowhere near worth $80 million, Bertans is a knockdown shooter and that is a precious commodity in today’s NBA. If Bertans can come off the bench more and provide instant shooting and offense, Washington can have a more solid rotation with an extra boost off the bench.
4. The Wizards Defense Is Slowly Improving
The Wizards started off the season as one of the worst defensive teams in the league. The team had a bunch of offensive-minded players with zero defensive impact, and no one wanted to take individual challenges. But that has all changed now. The Wizards players are taking responsibility, and the numbers are proof of that.
Over the past 4 games of their winning streak, Washington is holding teams to only 32.1% shooting from three which is a massive improvement from over 40% at the start of the month. As of the month of February, the Wizards are just above the middle of the pack with a 12th ranked defensive rating. Robin Lopez is a big factor inside, Rui Hachimura has improved his defense, and even Russell Westbrook is taking defensive challenges. With a great scorer like Beal on the team, defense will be a key factor in Washington’s playoff hopes this season.
3. 5-Game Winning Streak Is Building Momentum
Winning makes teams better in the NBA. Confidence goes up, belief in the coaching system skyrockets and players find their rhythm. The Wizards have won 5 straight games so far, against contending teams such as the Celtics, Nuggets, and Lakers. These are massive wins for a team that was lacking consistency, and this will give the players hope that they can win games more consistently.
With momentum on their side, the Wizards can begin to climb back to around .500. Especially with the quality of games coming up, a 5-game winning streak was just what the doctor ordered. The next Wizards games are against the Clippers, Nuggets, Timberwolves, and Celtics. While 3 out of those 4 games are difficult, with the way the Wizards are playing, a couple of big wins over the next few games puts them on track for the playoffs.
2. Team Chemistry Is Building
Guys are stepping up in Washington. Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook are finding their rhythm together, and they look like they are having fun playing with each other. Westbrook and Beal are both unstoppable one-on-one, and they do not mind giving each other space to operate. Westbrook, despite his inconsistent shooting, is averaging a near triple-double with 9.5 RPG and 9.7 APG. As he showed last night, Westbrook still has an elite gear.
Beyond the All-Star duo, other guys are stepping up. Rui Hachimura is coming into his own, averaging 13.4 PPG this season and playing exceptional defense, while rookie Deni Avdija looks like a clutch shot-maker. The Wizards are finding the right players for the right moments, and even veteran Robin Lopez has an impact in the paint. The Wizards’ chemistry is building, and they are following the lead of the best player on the team with the hopes of making the postseason.
1. Bradley Beal Is The Best Scorer In The NBA
While there is a lot to like about Washington, there is a ton to like about Bradley Beal. He was singlehandedly keeping Washington afloat during turbulent times, and his team is starting to pay him back. Beal is averaging 32.9 PPG this season, on an incredible 47.8% shooting. Every team in the NBA would do anything to trade for Beal, who deservedly is a starter for the Eastern Conference All-Stars. Beal is the best scorer in the NBA right now, and he is simply unstoppable.
Most importantly, Beal is one of the most clutch players in the league. He can explode to the rim, has a beautifully perfect jumper, and is a deadeye shooter. Beal has improved leaps and bounds over the past few years, and he will be the leader and best player for a rising Wizards team in the East. Washington will go as far as Beal takes them, and so far, he is proving his worth as one of the best players in the league right now.