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The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly: The Early November Edition

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A look at Wizards highlights and low-lights of the early season

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Washington Wizards Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

After an entertaining launch to the season, the 2-6 Wizards have slid back towards preseason expectations. Here’s a look at The Good, The Bad and The Ugly through the team’s first eight games:

The Good

Rui Hachimura

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I wasn’t a huge fan of the Wizards drafting Hachimura. I thought he would have a low ceiling and struggle to adapt to the NBA, but so far I have been pleasantly surprised by his game. One thing undervalued in today’s NBA is a mid-range game. Hachimura’s is smooth and confident and a centerpiece of his offensive game. Efficient mid-range shooting can still be effective in today’s game, but it doesn’t mean he can’t expand his game more.

So far on the season he is shooting 52% from mid range. He is also fifth among rookies in points per game (13.6), sixth in field goal percentage, and fourth in rebounding (6.1). Definitely a nice start. Hachimura needs to extend his range — currently hitting just 25% on threes. Being able to stretch the floor, will help the team’s spacing and make him a more challenging defensive assignment. Becoming a three-point threat takes his ceiling up a couple of notches and changes the dynamics of this team on offense.

3 point shooters not named Beal

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Speaking of three-point shooting, several players have picked up the slack, and none of them are Bradley Beal. Davis Bertans, Mo Wagner, and Isaiah Thomas are all shooting at least 36 percent from three. Their long-range shooting has been timely and has kept the Wizards in games when Beal has struggled to find his shot. In the two wins this season, Beal has shot only 27% from three and has been markedly worse on offense in those games compared to the Wizards losses.

Coming into the season without a healthy Wall, questions have arisen about who would be able to step up to help Beal in the scoring department. Having three players shooting well from distance helps, but of course the hope is Beal will begin to shoot better. It’s still early so Beal will probably soon revert to previous norms.

The Bad

Bradley Beal

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Beal is the best player on this team, but so far this season he hasn’t been as sharp as normal. His performance against Houston was amazing, but even that was muddied by his unsightly turnover at the end of a one-point loss.

Going forward, Beal’s shooting must improve, but his turnovers have to be drastically reduced as well. Things are different this year for him. This is the first time in his career, where he is unquestionably the number one option on the team going into the season. Teams will focus on him in their game plans. The Wizards are asking him not only to create for himself, but to create for others too. At times his handles have been loose. Other times he threw weak passes that made for easy steals by opposing defenders. He will need to clean these things up going forward to help an already young, inexperienced team. Maybe, as Kevin Broom suggested, it’s time to scale back Beal’s usage and perhaps those issues will not flare up as much.

The Ugly

Defense

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How in the world does a team score 158 points in a regulation NBA game and lose? The 2019-20 Washington Wizards have the answer: allow 159. The biggest concern I had with this team going into the season was the roster construction. I still believe there are too many players on this roster who have struggled on defense throughout their careers in the pros and even in college. Exhibit A:

Putting together lineup combinations of these type of players and the results are disastrous. Isaiah Thomas is an issue, but even when he is not on the court, there is room for improvement.

As the season has played out, I have been asking myself, when the Wizards need a stop at the end of a close game and they are going against the other team’s number one option, who is going to get the call? Position matters, but realistically there aren’t many options regardless of position on this roster.

The Wizards are in the bottom third in the league in opponent field goal percent, opponent three-point percent, rebounds allowed and points allowed. New assistant coach and defensive guru, Mike Longabardi needs to dig deep in his bag of tricks to offer solutions to cure what ails the Wizards’ defense.