The Washington Wizards have completed their first road trip of the young 2019-20 NBA season. They are 1-2, tied for 11th in the Eastern Conference after playing three Western Conference opponents on the road in just four days. It leaves me feeling a bit ... hopeful for a better than expected season. Here are some reasons why.
Washington has remained resilient throughout the season
The Wizards lost 108-100 to the Dallas Mavericks in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score indicated until they made a furious rally in the fourth quarter. They defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 97-85 and were really, really close to beating the Spurs before losing 124-122.
In general, the Wizards have been poised. They haven’t been afraid to at least try to play the way they want to. They are attempting 38.7 three pointers per game though their shots aren’t falling ... yet. They are also averaging 25.7 assists per game, a Top-10 average in the NBA so far.
Rui Hachimura is off to a stronger start than we expected
Before this season started, no NBA publication seriously considered the Wizards rookie from Gonzaga and Japan to be a serious contender for Rookie of the Year, even considering that New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson will sit out for as long as two months.
But now that the Wizards have a few games under their belts, it appears that Hachimura deserves to be in the conversation. He is averaging 16.3 points, fourth among rookies and an NBA rookie-high 7.7 rebounds per game. I still don’t think he will win the award, but he should be able to make the NBA All-Rookie First Team if he continues to play consistently all season long.
Isaiah Thomas is back earlier than usual
The veteran guard made his season debut on Saturday against the Spurs where he scored 16 points and dished 5 assists off the bench. It wasn’t too long ago when he was an All-Star and even an NBA MVP candidate. If he gets close to that form, that would be huge. I don’t want to say that the Wizards are a likely postseason team just yet, but they can make the standings a bit more interesting in the weeks and months ahead.