The Washington Wizards got off to a good start as any team in the NBA, shocking the masses by taking first place in the Eastern Conference in the first month of the season.
After Thursday’s Miami Heat loss, the Wizards relinquished their spot at the top of the East, unable to win one of their toughest tests in the first place.
They still have a strong 10-5 record and have some quality wins on their record – they beat both of last year’s Conference Finals finalists in the Atlanta Hawks and the Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics twice. , Toronto Raptors on the road and a Memphis Grizzlies away victory. But along with their loss to the Heat, they also lost to the Brooklyn Nets and the Charlotte Hornets.
With an almost entirely new roster following the move that brought Russell Westbrook to the Los Angeles Lakers, the Wizards’ pieces quickly appeared.
However, is this team good enough to make it to the knockout stages? Three members of our Sporting News staff discuss.
Will the Wizards be a playoff team?
Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_): I am a believer. Wizards will be a playoff team.
Going into the season, I think this is just a list of toys that don’t fit. Returning Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to move to Westbrook and sign Spencer Dinwiddie, they brought in four solid players, but I don’t believe it’s a group that can make any noise in the developing East.
Turns out, I was very wrong. Yes, they failed some tough tests, but they also beat some good teams.
Harrell looks like the player who won his sixth Man of the Year in 2018-19, averaging over 17 points and eight rebounds per game with five doubles in 15 games. Kuzma is thriving in a new situation with a larger role, almost averaging a double, and Dinwiddie complimented Bradley Beal perfectly in the back lane.
They have also been dealing with a number of injuries and absences, and their striker and former draw Rui Hachimura are not even on the floor due to personal reasons.
The craziest part is that after being one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA last season, new head coach Wes Unseld Jr has the team. ranked in the top five in the league in terms of defensive ratings so far.
There’s still a lot of basketball to be played this year, but I don’t see why Washington can’t maintain a hot start like this and stay in the knockouts.
Yash Matange (@ yashmatange2694): Despite the loss in Miami, which is now three in a row for the Wizards, I believe they are a playoff team.
They may not go too far in the post-season but I believe they can make it to the knockout stages by avoiding the Tournament in the ring. I see them trailing the Heat, the Nets, the Bulls, the Bucks and possibly the Celtics or the Hawks (whichever team helps recover better from their rough start) in the Eastern standings.
Their depth, gained by trading Westbrook last season, is a huge reason why they have done so well. Players from that trade such as Harrell (brings it every night off the bench), Kuzma (high volume bounce, small ball), Dinwiddie (good addition guard for Beal), Caldwell-Pope ( wing 3-and-D) and Aaron Holiday (the keeper) have both played important roles in the team’s games to date, especially the wins.
Why I believe the Mage can carry this form all season is Beal’s way of playing. While the 2021 All-NBA player is scoring 23.4 (over 11 games) with 41.1 percent shots from the field and 28.0 from outside the arc, it’s nowhere near his level compared to last year. last year when he averaged nearly a league-high 31.3 on 48.5 percent shooting from the field and 34.9 percent from outside the arc.
His decline (if you want to call it that) is on track with a few other superstars finding their way with the new ball and official rules. So I see him reacting back.
Also, I have to give a huge thank you to Unseld Jr., a coach with 16 years of experience as an assistant, for creating this team of tremendous depth. So does GM Tommy Shepherd, of course. Having said that, with the East being the main heavyweight, I don’t see them going too far in the post-season. If things fall for the best, it could be the Conference Semi-Final. If not, I see them bowing in the first inning.
Nick Metallinos (@NickMetallinos): It’s still early in the season, and I’ll wait until I see more to make the final call, but the Wizards’ loss to the Heat was another example of a comeback against world-level opponents. enemy in 2021-22. I think they’re a playoff team, but they’re not going to make a fuss when they get there.
As mentioned in the intro, two of the team’s five losses were to the Nets and Heat, two certified powerhouses in the East.
However, they will continue to be consistent throughout the season as they are receiving an equal amount of contribution from their roster. From Beal to Kuzma to Dinwiddie, they’re having solid offensive numbers, but once the post-season kicks in, they’ll need more firepower than that.
Their defense is currently 4th in the league about defensive rating, but they’ll definitely need to be more offensive as the teams are definitely focused on slowing down Beal on their way to the knockouts.
https://www.sportingnews.com/us/nba/news/will-wizards-be-a-playoff-team/1b12yfmvfp2o21295xaunl7dww | Will the Wizards be a playoff team? Washington surrenders in first place in Eastern Conference