The Washington Wizards made a massive acquisition this offseason by trading John Wall for 8-time All-Star and former MVP Russell Westbrook. With Westbrook on the squad, the Washington Wizards have an entirely different feel to them. The Eastern Conference is much tougher than it has been in recent years, with teams like the Bucks and Heat vying for an NBA Finals spot next year. Among all the best teams in the East, surely the Wizards will be up there.
In fact, the Wizards might shock everybody and make it to the Eastern Conference Finals. Russell Westbrook adds an MVP player to the roster that already features the likes of All-Star Bradley Beal. John Wall was a great player for the Wizards franchise, but here are the 5 reasons why Russell Westbrook has made the Wizards one of the favorites to make the Eastern Conference Finals.
5. Squad Depth
The Wizards have tremendous squad depth. Bradley Beal steals all the headlines when the Wizards play, but the rest of the roster can't be ignored. Rui Hachimura will be in his second year this season and he already showed flashes of brilliance last year by posting 13.5 PPG and 6.1 RPG as a power forward. Thomas Bryant is a very active center who can be a beast at times and averaged 13.2 PPG and 7.2 RPG for the team last season.
Davis Bertans signed a massive 5-year deal to remain with the Washington Wizards and that is for good reason. He is one of the best pure shooters in the NBA as he shot 42.4% from three last year, which will be invaluable when playing alongside stars like Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal. The Wizards have enough talent in the squad to remain competitive so the rest of the East should not overlook Washington as a team on the rise.
4. Scott Brooks and Russell Westbrook Relationship
Team chemistry is one of the most important factors in determining a team's success. Players have to get along with each other, and the coach must be able to get his message through to the players. We have seen how the Lakers can click on all cylinders at times because the superstars until the last man on the bench are in tune with the coaching staff. The Washington Wizards coach Scott Brooks is a respected coach around the league who knows his job very well, and he also knows his new superstar Russell Westbrook just as well.
Scott Brooks coached Russell Westbrook during their time together in Oklahoma City, and he helped make Russell Westbrook the bonafide All-Star he is today. Brooks and Westbrook reportedly get along very well which can bode well for the Wizards' success this upcoming season. With the main superstar happy with the coaching situation, the pieces will begin to fall in place like a puzzle that can spell bad news for the rest of the East.
3. Surprise Factor
The Washington Wizards have the advantage of sneaking up on teams because favored contenders don't know what to expect from the Wizards. With all eyes on the big guns in the East, the Wizards can fly under the radar. The Bucks and Heat are the heavy favorites because they have superstar talent on the squad with exceptional coaching, while the Sixers and Celtics have plenty of talent on their roster as well. Even Brooklyn might acquire James Harden and catapult themselves to the top spot this season. So how does Washington fit among the best teams in the East?
Opponents and media will clearly oversee the Wizards which gives the team the advantage of sneaking up on teams and shocking them like the Miami Heat did last season. Teams don't know how to prepare for Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal yet, and this means the Wizards have the edge on being a new team on the scouting report. If the roster clicks together and plays hard every night, anything can happen in terms of Eastern Conference seeding.
2. The Rise Of Bradley Beal
Bradley Beal is morphing into a superstar offensive player right before our very eyes. Beal had a career year last season by averaging 30.5 PPG and completely taking over the Wizards' offense at times. His ability to score in transition, in the half-court, and even create his own shot is invaluable in the NBA. Very few players possess Bradley Beal's skill set as a shooter and scorer, so the Wizards should count themselves lucky to have him on the roster.
Bradley Beal will likely continue his upwards trajectory as a star which means the Wizards can have one of the top-5 scorers in the league on their roster once again. Beal brings a ton of offense, clutch shot-making ability, and a competitive edge for a franchise that hasn't competed for rings in a very long time. Beal is already one of the best scorers in the league, and adding Russell Westbrook alongside him could make him an even scarier player.
1. Dynamic Duo - The Best In The League
Without a doubt, the duo of Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook is one of the best in the entire NBA. In fact, it might be number one. Russ and Harden were the best backcourt in the NBA last season with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson out with injuries, so there is no reason why Beal and Westbrook won't be either. While Beal isn't quite as good as Harden, he is still a superstar on the offensive end and might be a better fit alongside Russ than Harden.
James Harden loves to dribble more than anything, something Bradley Beal doesn't necessarily have to do. Beal can play off the ball exceptionally well and that means Westbrook can return to his primary role as a playmaker and initiator on offense. Planning for both Beal and Westbrook is almost impossible because as we saw last season, there is too much firepower to handle. Westbrook attacks the paint nonstop every game while Beal is a consistent force on offense. With the best backcourt in the league-leading carrying the Wizards, Washington had a chance to surprise everyone and make the Eastern Conference Finals this season.