Nothing Good Is Happening In the District

The Wizards haven’t won a game. Before you start whining about the schedule (Hawks, Grizzlies, Raptors) let me school you on this. You don’t win when you are third to last in points allowed. It doesn’t matter who you play when you give up 113 points a game and you only score 101.7, a league worst. Shouldn’t that be the 76ers terrain and not the Wizards with John Wall and Bradley Beal? Last in defensive rating.  21st in offensive rating. Awful in making three point shots and last in the league in free throw attempts and last in defensive rebounding and 29th in offensive rebounding and next to last in assists and last in blocked shots and 23rd in steals. That will get you a fat zero in wins.

Teams are shooting a NBA worst 49.8% against the Wizards meaning every other shot goes in for a score.  Teams are shooting 45.1% from three meaning the Wizards defense is turning every perimeter player into Steph Curry. The Wizards are last in field goal attempts but the good news for them is they make the shots they put up, they rank fourth. But. They turn the ball over repeatedly.

The Wizards have every reason in the world not to win a game and no one would really care except John Wall and Bradley Beal are making $40 million this year. That means they are supposed to stop the bleeding.

To be fair, the Wizards schedule is something to factor in. The Atlanta Hawks, the Memphis Grizzlies and the Toronto Raptors have a record of 9-4. All three are expected to make the postseason. But then so are the Wizards.

To start things rolling this season, the Wizards have not exhibited anything that you could say is playoff worthy and it starts with their pathetic defense.

Once Randy Wittman was run out of town the perception was he was the problem. Last season, the Wizards defense was downright F-level. They showed no interest in guarding anybody. They were slow on rotations. If it wasn’t for John Wall, they would have bypassed the Kings and Lakers for the worst defensive team in the league.(With John Wall they now are the worst defensive team in the league).

Remember the optimism when Scott Brooks was hired? His defense in OKC averaged from very good to they pay attention when it matters. But then again, he had Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and coming of the bench, Nick Collison, a tough, physical pick and roll defender.

No such talent on the Wizards, not yet. But this much cannot happen. 40 points to DeMar DeRozan. DeMar is a nice shooting guard, even an All-Star but he’s not the second coming of Kobe Bryant. The Wizards let DeRozan shoot 60%. But okay, All-Star is one thing. But Terrence Ross? The former slam dunk champion? He shot 75%, missing only two of the eight shots he attempted.

The Wizards have been known (the past year and two games) to rest on their offense but in their opener against the Hawks, the Wiz made a mediocre 42% of their shots and 30% from three. In Memphis more of the same. 20% from three.

Their home opener versus the Raptors was when their offense woke up, 58.3%, but their three point shooting remained dismal at 30%. If you can’t make threes, you can’t space the floor. You are too predictable and oh, yeah, those long rebounds for fast breaks. But that wasn’t the case against the Raptors. The Wiz won the fast break points by 6. They won points in the paint by 40. They fouled fewer times than the Raptors. They had more blocks.

But the Wizards turned the ball over 8 more times, thanks John Wall. They made 66.7% of their free throws.

What about the stars and the season they are having?

John Wall: Before Wednesday night’s home opener game he was pretty awful, 32.4%. But he had a great night in front of the locals, trying to will the Wiz to a win. 33 points. 68%. 11 assists. 10 turnovers. A triple double. Wall is an equal opportunity giver. DeMar DeRozan, DeMarre Carroll and Corey Joseph were all on Wall’s wish list; they got gifts. Besides his addiction for turnovers, there is no escaping his 12.5% from three.

Bradley Beal: He signed a massive contract over the summer because, in his words, he earned it. To start the season, he’s impersonating someone who can’t shoot a lick. He has missed 10 threes (out of 14). He is shooting 38%, averaging 14.0 points, 1.3 points less than Otto Porter. Beal had to show up big against the Raptors and DeMar DeRozan. As far as shooting guards go, DeRozan is just better. A better shot maker, a better mid-range scorer, a better iso player. Where Beal has the advantage is on the perimeter. Or so you’d think. Beal continued Beal of 2016-17 vs. Toronto. Beal shot 38% but he was 50% from three, a marked improvement. His counterpart outscored him by 25 points. Otto Porter outscored him by 8. Beal is shooting a cover your eyes 28.6% from three.

And so that’s how you have a winless start. No one gets eliminated from the playoffs the first week of the season. But the Wizards have 76ers like problems on both ends of the floor just with more talent than the 76ers and two max contract players. The Wiz play in the East so they can still climb back into it. But the playoffs and seeding is irrelevant. Can they defend on the same night they score? Can they move the ball and make perimeter shots? And someone please do an exorcism on John Wall to stop those horrific turnovers. He’s killing the Wizards.

How does the schedule look? The Hawks at home on Friday. The Hawks just lost to the young Lakers with terrible defense. The Lakers were on the second night of a back-to-back. The Wizards then play the offensively wretched Magic on the road. The Magic can’t score 100 points and they are the second worst in field goal percentage defense. But the Wizards are the worst so how can you count a win in Disney? Then James Harden at the Verizon Center. Good luck with James Harden when you couldn’t stop DeMar DeRozan. D’Antoni’s defense matched up against Brooks defense will be a toss up. Then the Celtics, Cavaliers and Bulls before the Wiz exhale with the 76ers. Meaning it is a hard road to respectability.

Only two teams don’t have a win in the East. The 76ers are one of them, of course. They have company: the Washington Wizards.

photo via llananba