After Wednesday’s loss against the Raptors, Bradley Beal tried to put an optimistic spin on the Wizards’ rough start. He told Candace Buckner of the Washington Post, “We know we’re better than 0-3. We feel like we should be 3-0 right now but we gave up some tough games.“
In one sense, that’s a very optimistic spin, considering the Wizards have lost all three of their games by at least 9 points, they have the worst Defensive Rating in the NBA and the second-worst Net Rating in the league at this point in the season. Then again, the Wizards have been either tied or held a lead in the fourth quarter of all three games, so it isn’t just blind optimism either. There is at least some reason to believe the Wizards aren’t quite as bad as they’ve shown up to this point.
1. Washington’s opening schedule has not been favorable
Opening on the road in Atlanta, facing the Grizzlies in Memphis, and then hosting the Raptors in their home opener is not a great way to get into a good rhythm. All three of those teams made the playoffs last season, and have been steady playoff teams for some time. Even though all three teams made big moves over the summer, they still have good systems in place that make them formidable every night.
2. The Wizards’ top free agent signing hasn’t played yet
Ian Mahinmi hasn’t played this season due to his knee surgery, and it’s had ripple effects on the rest of the roster. The bench has been abysmal defensively because they don’t have Mahinmi there to clean up the defensive miscues the rest of the second unit is prone to making. And when it comes to the three games they’ve played specifically up to this point, they’ve had to face Dwight Howard, Marc Gasol, and Jonas Valanciunas. You’d have to think he could have helped slow those guys down if he had been available.
3. Beal won’t stay in his funk forever
As we discussed earlier this week, Bradley Beal’s slump is discouraging, but it probably won’t last forever. Whether you attribute it to bad luck, adjusting to Scott Brooks’ new schemes, or just pressing too much after signing his big deal over the summer, at some point he’s probably going to snap out of it.
4. Everyone is still getting up to speed, especially John Wall
Any time there’s a coaching change or a major roster overhaul, there’s going to be an adjustment period. When you’re dealing with both, that complicates things even more.
And then you’ve got everything with the team’s top player. Even though Wall has played and put up some dazzling numbers so far, it’s important to remember he’s still getting his legs under him after offseason knee surgery. That could help explain part of why the Wizards have fizzled down the stretch of all three games this season. And since he wasn’t ready to go right at the start of training camp, he hasn’t had as much time to develop chemistry with the roster, which is playing a big part in why his turnovers are up a bit from last season. As he and the rest of the team get more comfortable, that should fix itself.
At the end of the day, I disagree with the Beal’s assessment that the Wizards could be 3-0 at the moment. They could be 3-0 right now in the same way the Warriors could have gone 82-0 last season if everything had broken right for them. You can’t just cherry pick the opportunities you missed without acknowledging the opportunities your opponents had to make things worse. For instance, the Wizards lucked out not having to face Tony Allen & Chandler Parsons in Memphis, and part of the reason they were able to get out to a hot start vs. Toronto was because Kyle Lowry missed time in the first half do a cut on his face.
Besides, as Kevin Broom points out, a three game losing streak isn’t uncommon for a team projected to do as well as the Wizards:
PSA for #Wizards fans: don't get too worried. For a .500 team, there's a 100% chance of a 3-game skid during an 82-game season.— Kevin Broom (@Broom_Kevin) November 3, 2016
Realistically, the Wizards are more like a 1-2 team that just happened to let a golden opportunity slip through their fingers in Memphis. They’re not as bad as their winless record indicates, but they’re also nowhere near where they should want to be at this point of the season, regardless of what the record shows right now.
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Taking your Wizards questions and explaining why things aren't as bad as they seemPosted by Bullets Forever on Friday, November 4, 2016