As the first half of the NBA season starts to wind down, the Washington Wizards have shown themselves to be very inconsistent. One minute they play like a team that could potentially make some noise deep into the playoffs, the next minute they look like a team that might miss the playoffs entirely.
With that being said, one of the bright spots this season has been the Wizards’ performance in clutch situations. Washington is outscoring opponents by 14.7 points per 100 possessions in situations where the scoring margin is within 5 points with 5 or less minutes left to go in the game. That’s the fifth-best mark in the league, and better than some notable teams like the Warriors, Raptors, Celtics, and Rockets.
After struggling in some clutch situations early in the year, they’ve really stepped it up on the defensive end as the game gets down to the final minutes. They have the second-best defense in the NBA in clutch situations, holding opponents to 35.4 percent from the field and 21.2 percent from deep. And you can’t blame those numbers on a small sample size. The Wizards have played 89 minutes in these clutch situations, the fourth-highest total in the NBA this season.
The biggest reason for Washington’s improvement has been John Wall. In fact, Wall’s remarkable play in the clutch is part of the reason why he was so dominant in the month of December and why he earned Eastern Conference Player of the Month honors.
Wall assists on 48.5 percent of Washington’s buckets in clutch situations. The only players who have played in at least 15 clutch situations and assist more often than Wall are LeBron James and Russell Westbrook. Wall also gets to the line very effectively in the clutch. He’s attempted the fourth-most shots in those situations. Bradley Beal is also top 10 in that category.
Marcin Gortat has also been great for the Wizards in the clutch. Gortat has logged more minutes in clutch situations than anyone else on the team, and the team’s Net Rating is outstanding. Opposing teams have only scored 83.8 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor in those situations, and he isn’t just getting by on everyone else’s hard work, he’s protected the rim quite well with 6 blocks in clutch situations this season.
The Wizards should be better than 16-18 right now and a lot of that comes from the team’s inconsistent play this season. If Scott Brooks can find a way to get his team to play the entire 48 minutes the same way they play in those clutch situations then the Wizards would be one of the most difficult teams in the league to play against. Washington has so many bright spots on this roster but the clock is still ticking on whether or not they can figure it out before it’s too late.