Before diving into a more nuanced analysis of the team’s first three games, let’s just get this out of the way: It’s pretty clear that this year’s Wizards team looks better than last year’s team in a small sample size. Three of the team’s top six players (Beal, Porter, Oubre) are noticeably better than last year. Wall and Gortat are still doing their thing and we haven’t even seen Markieff. The bench, both by the eye test and statistically, has been just as bad as last year, but has shown a few flashes of what it could grow into as the season progresses.
Offense Producing Despite Mediocre Shooting
What’s been truly remarkable about the first three games is that the Wizards have the seventh-best offense in the league despite being one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the league, both in number of makes (28th) and percentage (24th). Wall and Beal have been particularly bad from behind arc. The Wiz are overcoming this poor shooting by getting to the line, hitting the glass, and limiting turnovers. When the shooting comes around, this team has the tools to be a top-five offense in the league this year.
Defense Continues to be Up and Down
The story for the defense through three games has been the opposite of the offense. The Wiz are giving up a ton of good looks and have run into some hot shooters, like Robert Covington.
They’ve been able to make up for this by forcing bunches of turnovers and keeping their opponents off the line and offensive glass. Brooks deserves credit for the high intensity level and the improvement in the switching D. They’ve done a lot of effective switching 1 through 4 this year and Oubre has really shined in this role. This team will never be great defensively, but they could be above average. The goal for this team should be to only have five plays per game where you yell “WTF” at the TV vs. ten per game last year. So far, they are averaging seven per game in my house.
The Late Game Offense is Stagnant
This falls on Brooks, especially with his track record in OKC. There’s no rule in the NBA that says if you are up by 5 points in the last six minutes of the game, you have to waste half the shot clock before getting into a set or running an isolation. The Wiz were up 97-92 against the Nuggets with 5:50 remaining in the game and only scored thre points over the next four and half minutes. Against the Pistons, the Wiz had a fourth quarter stretch where they only scored 6 points in six minutes. This needs to improve.
Hey Scott – Stagger Your Rotations
All bench lineups have been getting smoked even worse than last year with a current net rating of -25 points per 100 possessions. Compounding the problem is that most other coaches in the league are staggering starters which means this bench unit is playing against some pretty good players (including all five Philly starters at one point). Brooks shouldn’t wait until the playoffs to start experimenting with different rotations. One obvious move would be to give Meeks more time with the starters and let Beal initiate the offense with the backups. Don’t hold your breath that this will happen.
Individual Player Analysis
John Wall (Grade: B-): Hasn’t shot well and still has way too many defensive brain farts, but man is he good at basketball. Post game is looking improved again and he’s definitely communicating better on D. Please don’t get injured flying through the air trying to draw fouls.
Bradley Beal (Grade A-): Looks terrific. His defense, playmaking and driving to the basket all improved from last year. His shot will come around.
Otto Porter (Grade A): Super aggressive on offense. Elite midrange shooting and floor running. He’ll never be a lockdown defender but looks stronger this year and had a good second half guarding Ben Simmons and a solid game guarding Paul Millsap. Ultimately, guarding the 4 could be his best defensive position in the modern NBA.
Kelly Oubre (Grade A-): Now looks like a competent player for 95 percent of the time! He has great hands and ability to contest on D. He still commits one or two too many stupid fouls per game, but if he keeps hitting threes like this, he’s a legit NBA player.
Marcin Gortat (Grade B+): Sneaky old man tricks abound. Great screens, offensive rebounding and finishing so far this year. Rim protection not in the skill set anymore at this age but usually in the right position.
Ian Mahinmi (Grade B-): Better than last year without a doubt. More aggressive offensively and has had some nice moments on D. Hopefully will continue to get more comfortable on the court.
Jodie Meeks (Grade C+): Everything will depend on if his shot is dropping or not. Looks pretty good coming off screens and has done a decent job drawing BS fouls in the Lou Williams vein.
Mike Scott (Grade C-): Doesn’t really do anything well but does a lot of things OK. Unless his shooting takes off, he could get some DNPs when Morris comes back.
Tim Frazier (Grade C): Plays really hard but has physical limitations on D and can’t shoot. Still an upgrade over the backup PG situation last year.
Tomas Satoranksy (Grade A+): UNSTOPPABLE