The Wizards won all four of their games so far in a five game west coast road trip. They defeated the Suns and Nuggets in back to back days last Tuesday and Wednesday. Then they defeated the Kings and Trail Blazers in two overtime games on back to back days while coming back from double digit deficits. This is unprecedented since I think many of us would have been content seeing Washington win just two of these last four games given the “tempered expectations by default” nature we have.
Anyway, the Wizards are now in sole possession of 2nd best in the East. Furthermore, they have the NBA’s best regular season record since January 11:
The Wizards are now alone in second place in the East. Since losing at Boston on Jan. 11, they have gone 22-5 – the best record in the NBA.— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) March 12, 2017
Let’s hand out some virtual hardware:
Keys to the Palace
John Wall, 29.8 ppg, 11.3 apg
After a couple weeks of below average shooting performances, Wall came back shooting at a much higher rate (51.7 percent). His best performance was last Saturday against the Blazers when he scored 39 points and dished 9 assists. They helped Washington come back from a 21 point halftime deficit!:
Bradley Beal, 28.5 ppg, 3.8 apg
Beal’s best showing was a 38 point, 10 rebound performance against the Kings last Friday night. Furthermore, he made five three points in each of the last three games on this road trip AND shot 54.8 percent from three overall. The man’s been a flamethrower!
Jason Smith, 8.7 ppg, 4 rpg
Smith earns a key once again this week though he only played in three games of this road trip. He played at least 23 minutes each in the Suns and Kings victories where he shot over 90 percent from the field in each game! In addition, he made all three of his three pointers. Yes, he gave a hard screen to a small Suns guard and triggered a scuffle. But it was a legal play. And he still scored 17 points in that game!
Ian Mahinmi, 7.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg
Mahinmi finally gave us the big time performance we were hoping for during the Suns game when Marcin Gortat was ineffective. He scored 15 points and grabbed 9 rebounds in a 26 minute spell. Furthermore, he stole the ball SEVEN TIMES as well. Mahinmi’s worst showing was against the Blazers. But given how much money he’s making, we needed to see him give a performance like he did against Phoenix. Mahinmi finally answered the bell.
Bojan Bogdanovic, 16.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg
Bogdanovic scored in double figures every game, highlighted by his 29 point performance against the Suns where he also made 16 free throws.
However, his shooting efficiency is starting to regress. Part of it is because of the law of averages. But he also shot 0 for 7 from three in the Nuggets and Kings games. Yes. We can get a bit more picky about things like this when the Wizards are winning, right?
Otto Porter, 15 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 2.3 spg
Porter had a much better week during this road trip than the last couple weeks when his shooting efficiency went down a bit. In each of the last three games, Porter didn’t just score more (like his 22 point performance on 10 of 15 shooting against the Nuggets. He also shot 6 of 11 from three, clearly Meesssemanesque.
That said, his 2 point, 1-of-6 shooting performance against the Suns was a bit too much to ignore when it came to deciding between a key and a pass. So guest pass it is.
Markieff Morris, 10 ppg, 6.3 rpg
Morris probably wasn’t earning a key either way, but his pedestrian showing against the Suns ensured that he was in guest pass territory.
Marcin Gortat, 8.5 ppg, 10.5 rpg
Gortat’s minutes fluctuated a bit where he played noticeably fewer minutes in the first game of back to backs. His best performance was a 15 point, 15 rebound effort against the Blazers, but his showing against the Suns was anything but memorable.
Brandon Jennings, 2.3 ppg, 4.3 apg
The good news about Jennings is that he’s a better distributor than I anticipated. The bad news is that he shot under 25 percent from the field, shot 25 percent from the free throw line, and made some finger gun gestures in the Suns scuffle which he paid some money for.
For most teams, this isn’t appropriate and they can forgive and forget. We’ll forgive Brandon because he’s a newbie on the Wizards, but we can’t simply forget it. It’s because:
- The Wizards changed names because of the association “bullets” have with gun violence back in 1997.
- The Wizards are the only NBA team that we know of where guns were brought into the locker room in 2009.
- Gilbert Arenas, who brought some of the guns in, is still acting erratically on social media today and people associate him as a former Wizards player who’s carefree about guns.
- Javaris Crittenton, the other player in that incident, is now a convicted felon who killed a woman with his guns.
So yeah Brandon, that’s something you just can’t do, especially on a team that has been negatively affected by its association with guns and bullets.
Kelly Oubre Jr., 1.5 ppg, 1.8 rpg
He shot 25 percent from the field. That’s an easy lockout.
Not enough time for an evaluation
Tomas Satoransky played three games last week but not enough time in any one for me to judge. Trey Burke only played in one game. Chris McCullough’s on D-League assignment, while Daniel Ochefu and Sheldon McClellan didn’t play at all.