When Scott Brooks was hired as the coach of the Washington Wizards replacing Randy Wittman there were a few nostalgic dreamers who thought this was a reincarnation of the Brooks Wonder Years in OKC. There were vague similarities. An offense based on two perimeter talents. Stars not in their prime. But the difference is more night and day than water and ice. The Wizards are an incomplete team without an identity. Brooks, of course, was supposed to fix that. But here is the problem with the Wizards and their two star talent roster. Neither of the talents are playing like stars. Stars lead.
It’s a tough situation for Brooks. He coached two of the greatest players of their generation. Under Brooks, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were versatile, gritty, competitive and exhibited strong intangibles in the area of leadership. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were dominant and elite players. Bradley Beal and John Wall are not. Their games are marked by inconsistency and inefficiency. Scott Brooks was always going to be less than he was in OKC.
But this less? 6 wins on the season less?
Let’s start with the roster.
Bradley Beal is playing the second most minutes of his career, not what you want for a player who gets injured every time it rains. But behind Beal is Kelly Oubre and Marcus Thornton. It doesn’t instill that much confidence. Beal is taking the most shots he has ever taken. He is making 43.7% of his shots which isn’t a great number but it is the second best of his career which is the Beal paradox. A great shooter, but not really that great. His three ball is a career low 38.2%. He’s not rebounding the ball like he used to do in years past. He is a 20.9 scorer but 20 points and near the bottom of the conference.
Beal is a pathetically dismal 27.9% off of drives to the rim. His catch and shoot scores have a higher probability, 42.6%. His pull up J is accurate 41.2% of the time. For not a max contract player, that would be fine. For a $100 million dollars, Beal is a disappointment and legitimizes thoughts of buyers remorse.
His backcourt partner, John Wall, is having a year. The most shots he has ever taken. His highest field goal percentage. His highest 3-point accuracy. His highest free throw percentage. But fewer assists. Wall is getting his at the expense of the rest of the team. Or, the rest of the team is so average Wall has to get it his. Which excuse sounds better? Against the Kings, Wall had 11 turnovers and needed overtime to dispose of a bad team with a dominant player. Cousins and Wall are alike, the best players on teams that are going nowhere.
Back to Wall. He is averaging a career best 23.1 points a game. His drives are going in the hole 55.9% of the time. But his catch and shoot and pull ups are still painful to watch. 37% go in. Which means Wall is easy to defend as the Spurs showed on Saturday night. Guard him for the jumper and there will be a lot of bricks clanking off the rim.
There is a Wizards bright spot. Otto Porter (14.8 points, 8.1 rebounds) is having a good year and at this rate Porter will just be out there making his numbers look good on a contract. When the boat leaks water, you save yourself.
The Polish Hammer, Marcin Gortat is averaging the most minutes in his career partly because Ian Manhinmi, the free agent big man, has been hurt. Gortat has a career high field goal percentage, 59.8%, but the fewest amount of shots in six years. His free throw percentage pretty much is in the toilet, a career low 62.2%. He is pulling down rebounds at a Dwight Howard level but his blocked shots are at the same rate as they were in 2010-11. Gortat has a career high 3.3 turnovers and a four year low in scoring, 11.3 points. His PER is a four year low as is his efficiency on 10-16 foot shots, 38%. Gortat’s inconsistency has permeated throughout the team.
As for the rest of said team? You mean Trey Burke and Marcus Thornton and Markieef Morris and Andrew Nicholson? Or do you mean Tomas Satoransky?
Scott Brooks isn’t a miracle worker. He can’t turn water into wine. He can’t make John Wall and Bradley Beal into Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. He can’t turn average to below average players into offensive sparkplugs or defensive stoppers. There has to be something there to work with. Can you score on the move? Do you have a shot that works in times of stress? Can you make an open look? Do you move the ball? Can you guard pick and roll?
For most of the Wizards roster the answer to those questions are no. No. No. No. No. Take away Wall and Beal and the roster rates average to below average on the talent score. The regression to the mean is low hanging fruit.
The Wizards have the second worst scoring bench in the league, 23.6 points. The 10.4 rebounds the bench manages is equally pitiful. Despite Wall and Beal’s collective effort, the Wizards backcourt is only the 10th best scoring backcourt, good for 50.4 points. The Wizards have a top-3 assist backcourt. Their frontcourt is responsible for 51.6 points, 25th best, meaning the guards are making their assists off of passes to guards. The Wizards 33.5 points in the paint is also pretty miserable and lands them almost in last place and is more evidence that if it’s not happening on the perimter, it’s not happening for the Wiz.
And so that’s how you have a broken team with a new coach saddled with expectations to be better than what he can make them with a roster that can’t do much but try to tread water. I give credit to Brooks for publicly roasting the face of the franchise Wall for his apathetic defensive performances. But that kind of public skewering only goes so far.
This is a team of inconsistent players that Wall, Beal and Brooks have to legitimize with flawless execution. But flawless means near perfect.
As you know, nothing is perfect in the District.
photo via llananba