The Washington Wizards have been the biggest disappointment of the season so far. A team which was supposed to be one of the dark horses in the Eastern Conference is struggling like never before in the past few years. At the moment, the Wizards have 1-7 and are hammered to the bottom of the East alongside Cleveland Cavaliers. The latest defeat came this Friday night, and it was at home, against the Oklahoma City Thunder, 111-134.
No Reason for Panicking
The hosts were looking disorientated, without any plan, and what is the biggest problem, without a will to fight.
But, there isn’t a reason for panic, at least that is what Bradley Beal said.
“I’m not hitting the panic button. I’m not hitting it and I don’t think we are either as a team,” Beal, who scored 27 points said. “We understand it’s still early, it’s not perfect. We understand patience is running low from everybody, from ourselves.
The fans, however, don’t think the same, and for the first time in the previous few seasons, we could hear them booing after the event.
It is a tough situation for all at the club, especially for the biggest star, John Wall. The explosive playmaker stated before the start of the season that this should be his year, and that Washington has high ambitions. Now, he realizes that his team has problems in the defensive aspect of play.
“Offense has never been a problem for us,” John Wall told. “We score the ball very well. It’s just what can we do on the defensive end. Until we figure that out, we’re going to have these same problems.” He finished his night with 19 points and 9 assists.
It seems that the departure of Marcin Gortat left a huge gap in their paint, and that Washington simply couldn’t cover that. But the Polish center had to go, mainly because of Wall, with whom he had many issues which were damaging the chemistry in the locker room. Eventually, he got traded to the LA Clippers, and Austin Rivers came from California in exchange.
Dwight Howard – The Only Hope
Dwight Howard debuted against the Oklahoma City Thunder, and that is something which might change the situation. One of the most dominant centers in the previous decade scored 20 points in just 23 minutes, but his contribution in defense wasn’t that noticeable. Only three rebounds, without a single block. Now, the Wizards are relying enormously on upon Superman, because he is projected to be their defensive cornerstone. And how couldn’t he? The first pick from 2004 was the NBA Defensive Player of the Year three times, and he entered the NBA All-Defensive First Team on four occasions. He was five times NBA rebounding leader and two times best shot-blocker.
At the moment the Wizards are last in the league when looking offensive rebound percentage, and they rank third from behind in defensive efficiency. We don’t even have to say that that Washington has the worst defense so far, with 123.9 allowed points per game.
Hopefully for their fans, and the team’s ambition to reach the playoffs, Howard’s return might change something.
Coach Scott Brooks told that to the media after the match, and added that he still believes in his guys, no matter what.
“I have a lot of confidence in our guys staying together and I also have a lot of confidence our guys are going to play well,” Brooks said. “We’re going to start playing better together. Dwight was obviously a start to that.”
Up Next – Win or Go Home
The upcoming period will be decisive for the Wizards. Either they heal as a team, or they die as individuals, as Al Pacino said in “Any Given Sunday”. Winning against New York is a must this Sunday, and after that, Washington goes on a mini-tour of three matches against Dallas, Orlando, and Miami. If they fail to improve their performances, the season will be under a question mark, even though it is still early.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.