The Washington Wizards Are Fickle, and There is No Fix In Sight


Washington Wizards are fickle and there is no fix in sight

John Wall grabbed an inbound pass, raced down the court with blistering speed, his threatening gravity drawing four defenders to him.

Bradley Beal, who ran with purpose to the left corner, sat wide open. Wall found his partner with a line drive pass that we have seen many times before.

Beal, 0-5 from three to that point, calmly swished the shot. The Wizards led the Cleveland Cavaliers, 72-52, in the third quarter at Quicken Loans Arena, a feat that silenced a once undefeated crowd.

That’s Washington Wizards basketball. A defensive stop, fast break, and three-pointer with an assist from John Wall. It was the team’s trademark throughout last season, a magical ride that suffered little breaks from winning basketball.


But as soon as Washington recovered the confidence and shooting touch against Cleveland on December 2, — two traits that suddenly all disappeared during the prior four-game losing streak — it was all taken away just a day later against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Wall, who put on a peerless performance in Cleveland (35 points, 10 assists, 5 steals, 4 rebounds) played arguably even better against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers (34 points, 11 assists, 7 rebounds, 2 steals). On the other hand, Beal — the Wizards’ top scorer — put up just 11 points in 38 minutes on 4-12 shooting. He didn’t play well against the Cavaliers either — 18 points in 42 minutes on 6-19 shooting.

Even with Wall performing at his highest level since April, the Wizards couldn’t beat the Lakers team that lost to an 0-18 Philadelphia 76ers squad. Is it plausible for a team to muster everything they’ve got against the second-best team in basketball one night, only to leave it all in the locker room the next?

More from Wizards News

Apparently, yes.

First, this 3-15 Lakers team is bad.

Its flaws are accentuated with Kobe on the floor (at least it was, until he scored 31 points on 10-24 shooting against the Wizards shoddy defense).

Bryant uses up 29.8% of the Lakers’ total possessions in the midst of the worst shooting season of his career.

It’s a shame it’s even possible for that kind of basketball to win games.

Before looking into the stats, I assumed that John Wall is the super-glue that holds this team together. Without Wall, this team would be having a complete breakdown, right?

Not exactly. The stats show that Wall’s performance has little bearing on a win or loss.

  • When Wall shoots over 45%, the Wizards are 3-3
  • When Wall shoots under 45%, the Wizards are 4-6
  • When Wall has 7 or more assists, the Wizards 7-3

The last stat makes obvious sense: when his teammates are making shots, Wall gets more assists, the Wizards win games. But when he himself is efficient offensively, the Wizards are .500 so far, at best. So if it’s not Wall, maybe it’s Bradley Beal.

  • When Beal shoots over 45%, the Wizards are 3-3
  • When Beal shoots under 45%, the Wizards are 2-5

Nope. The backcourt efficiency has no correlation with wins. How about when they are both playing well?

  • When Wall and Beal both score over 17 points, the Wizards are 4-3.
  • When Wall and Beal both shoot over 45%, the Wizards are 1-0.
  • When Wall and Beal both shoot under 45%, the Wizards are 7-8

Another dead end. Granted, Beal has missed three games, and this isn’t the best sample size, but the data is there. If there was a player or combination of players Washington could rely on offensively to win games, we would likely see it somewhere.

The obvious answer is the defense. Otto Porter hasn’t developed on that end nearly as well as expected; he is allowing opponents to shoot 11.1% better than the league average. Wall and Gortat have been fine, but the same isn’t true for the rest of the roster. The Wizards are 25th in points allowed and 29th in opponent 3P%.

Even so, this team is hard to figure out. Landmark wins against the Spurs and Cavaliers are accompanied by 111-78 drubbings at the hands of the Celtics.

It’s not as if Wall, the unquestioned leader of this team with Paul Pierce now gone, is unfit. He is a very astute individual that was aware of his future stardom from a young age, according to Reddit user Minia15.  He doesn’t treat the media with kid gloves as many players like to do; rather, he takes criticism head on and filters it into motivation — an essential trait for success on this stage. Many a player has come up short due to the absence of that ability.

“When you’re playing well, you can’t just read and look at everything everybody’s saying great about you,” Wall said in a recent interview. “When you’re playing bad, you gotta look at the film, when you’re playing bad, you gotta take the criticism people say about you…When I go out there and play I wanna be great every night…So I don’t take [any] grudge or disappointment in what [the media says]. I just use it as more motivation and encouragement to help me get out of my slump.”

His leadership skills have improved drastically since his was drafted. The problem isn’t with him.

So where can this team go to find a fix? It’s a conundrum. The trade market is their best bet, because there clearly isn’t any in-house fix.

Next: Wizards' Lack Of Hometown Support Is Troublesome

The clock is ticking.