Wizards Weekly - Week 3
After three weeks of play, the Wizards have affirmed the negative team projections that preceded the season. On HYPE’s calendar, the week starts Wednesday and ends Tuesday. Washington enters week four 2-6, with a home matchup looming vs. the 8-1, first-place Boston Celtics on Wednesday.
The Wizards lost twice last week; first to the Pacers in Indy, 106-121, then to Cleveland at home, 100-113.
In Indiana, a depleted Pacers team was without their two best players (who happen to double as two-way talents), Victor Oladipo (#hometeem) and Myles Turner and still limited Washington 39% shooting. The Pacers led most of the game, pulling away in the second and stamping victory with a massive 22-2 run in the third that built their lead to 25. Indiana is very well-coached and rich with two-way talent. After Bradley Beal went for 21 points and shot 62% in the first half, Aaron Holiday and Malcolm Brogdon honed in on that end of the floor. Beal trudged his way to a 30-5-5 line, shot 8% – YES EIGHT PERCENT – from three. Rookie Rui Hachimura has been the Wizards’ second option, but finished with a donut against Indiana’s frontcourt rotation.
I think he needed that, just to refresh his hunger. Hachimura is still adjusting to the NBA game, but until he sees every frontcourt defender and defensive scheme, he’ll have to find his confidence after bad nights and accept the humility that NBA defenses produce.
Somewhere between the flight home and Friday’s game, Rui found that confidence. In the 100-113 loss, Hachi played an aggressive game, shooting a career-high 77% against another strong front court, but his success didn’t permeate the team.
The Wizards shot a horrible 3-6 from the free throw line (the “horrible” here is in the measly six attempts) while Cleveland shot 86% on 29 attempts. Washington lost an easily winnable game against a team actively rebuilding – at home. The culprit this time was defense.
“Defense kills you,” said Beal postgame. “You can make and miss shots in a game, you can’t control that but you can control your defense.”
In a point guard’s league, Isaiah Thomas is an automatic liability. The Wizards’ starting PG is the league’s smallest at the position, and his backup Ish Smith is barely six feet tall. In Boston, when IT was in the game, he usually shared the backcourt with Marcus Smart or Avery Bradley, aka guys who were NBA All-Defense. Beal is a very good defender, but he’s not quite the same as Smart or Bradley.
Last week I told you to look out for Troy Brown Jr., the second-year G/F from the University of Oregon. I want to clear that up, especially after an underwhelming week of work. He averaged 5 points and shot under 24% FG in the two games.
What I’m really calling for you to watch for is his growth into his potential. At 6’7” with a 6’10” wingspan and guard-like nimbleness, Brown can be a stud defender that guards multiple positions. With the ball, he is one of his team’s most creative playmakers. As the team dealt with injuries, Coach Brooks started Isaac Bonga at the 3. After getting back into the rotation, Brown Jr. made his first start versus Cleveland. The game he had was probably his worst as a professional, scoring three points on 13% shooting from the field.
My gut feeling is he’ll be aite. Everyone in this organization is growing up. Beal has been shooting 29% from three, going 1-12 @ IND and 3-9 vs CLE. As a two-time All-Star, Beal knows he’s good, but for this year’s team to find any success, even in growth, he’ll have to be All-NBA.
Washington heads to Boston Wednesday night, where Thomas will make his first start as a visitor since February 2014. Catch HYPE! live each Wednesday night at 10pm!