Washington will try again to get their first win of the New Year on Friday night when the Portland Trail Blazers come to town.
When: Friday, Jan. 3 at 7 p.m. ET
Where: Capital One Arena
How to watch: NBC Sports Washington
Wizards: Moritz Wagner (Ankle, Out), Rui Hachimura (Groin, Out), Davis Bertans (Quad, Out), (Calf, Out), C.J. Miles (Wrist, Out), Thomas Bryant (Foot, Out) John Wall (Achilles, Out)
Trailblazers: Mario Hezonja (Back, Game-Time Decision), Skal Labissiere (Knee, Out), Jusuf Nurkic (Lower Leg, Out), Rodney Hood (Achillies, Out), Zach Collins (Shoulder, Out)
What’s going on with the Wizards’ rotations?
Here we are, two months into the season, and the rotations still don’t make a ton of sense. Now, in Scott Brooks’ defense, injuries have played a major role in this as he’s got to make sense of this roster with five of his rotations players (and two starters) are sidelined with injury.
Washington signed Isaiah Thomas to a one-year ‘show me’ deal this summer. Thomas made it clear in the offseason that he was playing for his next contract. Thomas’ production on the floor hasn’t correlated to more wins so it’s unclear why he continues to get starters minutes over Ish Smith or Troy Brown Jr. So unless the team has some kind of behind the scenes handshake agreement, playing Thomas for 25+ minutes per night doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
Meanwhile, Ish Smith is having one of the better years of his career so far and will be in Washington for at least another season barring a trade so if Brooks needs two have one of the two on the floor at all times, why not Smith in the starter’s role?
If Brooks really wants to get creative and potentially build his confidence in the process, he’ll put Troy Brown Jr. back in the starting five. After a few games where Brown looked comfortable and in the flow of the offense running the second unit, against Orlando, he reverted back to the guy who often looked lost and forced the issue whenever the ball was in his hands.
With all do respect to Gary Payton II who has played well since arriving in Washington, I’m not quite sure why he’s starting over a guy like Jordan McRae. Payton was signed to the Wizards as part of the injury hardship but that doesn’t mean that he’ll be on the roster for the remainder of the year. Meanwhile, after returning from injury, McRae has averaged nearly 20 points per game over the past four contests and is looking like a guy who could be here for the long-term.
Welcome back Carmelo Anthony!
Friday evening will be the first time since the 2017-18 season that Carmelo Anthony matches up against the Wizards. Since signing with the Trail Blazers this past November (and guaranteed in December), the 35-year-old has averaged 15.7 points, 6 rebounds and 1 assist per game.
The Wizards’ guards and wings can expect Anthony to launch plenty of shots as he is averaging a maximum of 14 field goal attempts a game. He’s also coming off a season-high 26 points against the Knicks on Wednesday.
Jordan McRae’s stepped up the last few games
McRae is having a strong season for the Wizards so far, averaging 11.3 points, 2.6 rebound, and 3 assists per game. Across the stat line, the shooting guard has improved from last season. It’s evident he’s more comfortable and confident in his abilities.
McRae has also quietly been putting up solid numbers the past four games. His stats are below:
- 1/1 vs ORL: 15 points, 7 rebounds
- 12/31 vs. MIA: 29 points, 4 rebounds, 8 assists
- 12/28 vs. NY: 20 points, 5 rebounds
- 12/26 vs. DET: 15 points