Washington Wizards Player Grades: Week 12
Unsteadily as usual, the Washington Wizards are starting to roar back into it.
Wins over Chicago, Milwaukee and Indiana got the Wizards back to .500 for the first time in weeks, but the Wizards squandered a chance to get over the hump against the Boston Celtics on Saturday night.
The Wizards have made some headway, though: they’re only two games out of the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference, and only a game under .500.
The Wizards have a chance to get over the hump this week, with dates with the Trail Blazers, Heat and Jazz coming up. If they don’t have a winning record by this time next week, it’ll be a disappointment.
John Wall: 25.0 PPG (46.8 FG%), 6.0 RPG, 9.8 APG, 3.0 SPG
While his campaign to start the All-Star Game for the first time falters because NBA fans are unforgivably stupid, John Wall has continued to elevate his game as the Washington Wizards force their way back into the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
Wall’s missed layup at the end of the Celtics game – costing the Wizards a chance at going over .500 – was a heartbreaker, but the Wizards were literally only in the game because of his remarkable performance, as he put up the first 36-7-13-7 statline since steals started being tracked in the 1973-74 season.
The key: John Wall’s jumper has been wet as hell. A recent surge has Wall’s season 3-point percentage at a career-high 35.4% – he’s hitting 52% over the last seven games. He’s even flashed Stephen Curry range from time to time.
Remember how for years everyone always said, “When John Wall gets a reliable jumper, he’ll be impossible to guard”? Yeah, that’s actually happening.
Garrett Temple: 10.5 PPG (41.2 FG%), 3.5 RPG, 3.8 APG, 1.5 SPG, 1.3 BPG
The time has come to answer a question that had been on the horizon for quite a while now.
Bradley Beal is back. Garrett Temple is still playing well. Who starts?
The biggest consideration here has to be Beal’s health, and with the Washington Wizards’ young star continually fighting through stress reactions in his leg, it’s probably better for the Wizards to limit his minutes, at least for a while.
The best way to do that is to bring him off the bench, meaning Temple would continue to hold down the role of starting shooting guard. In my mind, he’s earned it, as he’s continued to bring a consistent level of energy and effort that Beal is unable to every night.
I believe in Garrett Temple, starting NBA shooting guard, and you should too.
Kelly Oubre: 6.0 PPG (30.8 FG%), 3.5 RPG, 1.5 SPG
There’s always one sequence a game where Kelly Oubre takes over: a minute or two with a dunk, a steal and a lefty 3-pointer. Even though Oubre has a long way to go, he finds ways to contribute.
That’s enough to keep Oubre in the rotation with the team vying for playoff position, despite the fact that he’s shown his inexperience in recent weeks.
Over the last eight games, he’s shooting 28.6% from 3 – and while his verve on defense should be praised, opponents are shooting 9.3% higher than their season against Oubre this year, 18% better near the basket.
Jared Dudley: 9.8 PPG (50.0 FG%), 5.5 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.0 SPG
With Nene and Marcin Gortat back in the lineup, the Washington Wizards have a lot more rotation options than they did before – but it looks like Dudley will maintain his spot in the starting lineup, with Nene backing up Gortat.
This is the right way to go. Nene and Gortat have always have a nice rapport on the court, but the Wizards’ offense functions best when Nene is the sole big man, getting the ball down low and having the offense run through him.
The Wizards’ best lineups this year have featured three guards, Dudley and one big. Dudley’s metronome-like consistency hitting open shots means that he can slot into any lineup, anywhere, and continue to produce.
Nene: 10.3 PPG (58.1 FG%), 3.8 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.5 SPG, 1.3 BPG
With Nene back to his full capabilities this week, we were reminded that even after everything that’s happened, the Brazilian big man is still the Wizards’ most indispensable player behind John Wall.
Nene was the only player to earn a positive plus-minus in all four of the Washington Wizards’ games this week. Albeit in a relatively small sample, Nene has by far the best average plus-minus on the team: +2.8, well ahead of the second-place player, Garrett Temple with a mark of +1.5.
Nene is still a fantastic player on both ends of the floor, possessing the ability to control a game on both offense and defense – his incredible defensive effort late against Indiana carried the Wizards back to .500. Let’s hope the big man is back for good, this time.