Why The Washington Wizards’ Back Court Could Be Legendary


Why the Washington Wizards‘ back court could be legendary

Mark Jackson and Reggie Miller, John Paxson and Michael Jordan, Penny Hardaway and Nick Anderson were some of the backcourts in the East during the 90’s.

Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton, Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen were a few of the best backcourts in the East from the 2000’s. These are just some of the more memorable backcourts in the Eastern Conference in recent years.

John Wall and Bradley Beal have a chance to leave their mark and add their names as one of the best backcourts in Eastern Conference history. The dynamic, All-Star, and other worldly athletic leader of the team in Wall and the smooth stroking, nasty streak underneath a calm demeanor in Beal tends to remind you of another backcourt with similar characteristics —the backcourt of the back-to-back NBA Champions Detroit Pistons – Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars.

Thomas came from humble beginnings in Chicago to first lead Indiana to the 1981 NCAA Championship in his only year at the school, to later becoming an All-Star and arguably the best point guard in the league, to the eventual leader of an NBA Championship team.

Wall similarly came from humble beginnings hailing from Raleigh, North Carolina to lead a stacked 2009-2010 Kentucky Wildcats team to the Elite 8 in the NCAA tournament.

Wall would later declare for the 2010 NBA Draft after one wildly successful year at UK to become the number 1 draft pick of the Washington Wizards paralleling Thomas at Indiana/Detroit Pistons (who was actually the 2nd pick in the 1981 draft).

The similarities are eerie between Wall/Thomas: both played for a fiery college coach, both possess elite quickness and speed to get up and down the floor, both are in complete control of the team offense and set the tone for the team’s defense.

The only difference between Thomas and Wall is that Thomas’ jump shot was already a thing of beauty coming into the NBA and he usually used the threat of his pull up jumper to free himself to drive to the hole.

While Joe Dumars went to a small, obscure college in McNeese State and Bradley Beal went to a large D-1 hoops powerhouse in the University of Florida, there are many similarities to these two also.

Aside from their soft spoken personalities and calm demeanor, both come from huge families where they both played sports to keep up with their brothers and football being the first love for both Dumars and Beal.

Dumars and Beal both are largely known as smooth players that have picture perfect jumpers but also underrated on the defensive end.

They both also have a nasty streak right below the surface.

More from Wizards News

Isiah Thomas is largely credited for taking on the lead role with the Pistons “Bad Boy” image, but Dumars often did a lot of the “dirty” work that went unnoticed by many.

Starting with the 2014 NBA Playoffs against Chicago, Beal’s soft spoken demeanor changed and he became a focused, more aggressive version of himself that needed to be held back from Chicago players on more than one occasion.

Many within the basketball world (regular Washington Wizards watchers included) were surprised to see this out of Beal.

This carried over to the 2015 playoffs in the Toronto series where Beal was caught on camera saying the now classic “Don’t (mess) with me, Kyle” referring to Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry.

The pieces are now in place for Wall and Beal to become not only one of the top backcourts in the East, but the league also.

In the past, many would point out how young Wall and Beal were and mention that neither are in their primes just yet. Without mentioning their ages, this makes Wall’s sixth year in the league and Beal’s fourth year. Throw in some playoff series, and suddenly, they are a little more experienced than you think they are.

While the Pistons had some success in the playoffs, the Thomas/Dumars led Pistons teams spent most of their primes in the brutal Eastern Conference and trying to breakthrough in the playoffs against Larry Bird and the classic Celtics teams of the 80’s.

Once the Pistons got a few key pieces (Dennis Rodman, Mark Aguirre, etc), they were able to finally beat the Celtics on their way to the NBA Finals. Wall/Beal’s script is somewhat following the same path.

While the Washington Wizards are somewhat overachieving by winning the opening playoff series of the last two seasons, expectations are now starting to be ramped up for this pair and so far they are producing.

Wall is being more vocal than the past and is putting the “Who will take the last shot for the Wizards in crunch time?” question to rest as evidenced by his go-ahead bucket to beat the Orlando Magic this past week.

Wall also is playing at a pace that while he’s pushing the rock more, is measured to find other players in the offense to get them involved. Wall is also using the same “I’ll show them” motivation tactics that other great players (Michael Jordan and Dwyane Wade come to mind) used to drive them during the season.

A recent GM poll was released and Wall’s name wasn’t included on the list of the who the GM’s thought were the best point guards in the league. However, after two straight All-Star seasons from Wall, the basketball world is beginning to take (more) notice.

Even with Wall already playing possibly the best ball of his career, the biggest story from the Washington Wizards so far this season has been the development and effective play out of Brad Beal.

He is not letting early offense struggles (read: turnovers) affect him the way it has done in the past. Beal has been warming up in the past few games during “money time” and pushing the Wizards ahead with his steady and confident shooting.

Beal is also foregoing the long two point shot (a staple in last year’s offense) for either drives to the bucket or three pointers, which is key for how the defense plays him. The Washington Wizards needed Beal to have a big year to be competitive in the improved Eastern Conference and he has responded and then some.

He is currently showing the same fire that he usually reserves for the playoffs and even dropped the eye-opening statement of “no one can stop me” in a recent interview.

Obviously, the Wall/Beal backcourt has a long way to be able to claim the same kind of success that the tandem of Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars had during their run, but one can’t help but see the similarities between the two backcourts.

Next: Wizards Need Porter To Increase Offensive Production

With Wall/Beal clicking and taking the team on their backs (and maybe adding a piece or two…ahem) this Washington Wizards team can count on a big and bright future that could include some trips to the NBA Finals very soon.