Washington Wizards Playing With Urgency
Over the past couple of years, the Washington Wizards had been known as a gritty, defensive team that hustled and willed their way to victories. With Randy Wittman leading the club, the Wizards always had a sense of passion and pride behind their brand of basketball. This season, all of that went away.
Washington never really found an identity this season.
Although the Wizards were supposed to be an up-tempo, versatile team, they failed to execute an efficient offense and the defense suffered greatly.
At times, John Wall has been the team’s best shooter this season. If a team wants to run a modern offense, having an inconsistent shooter as the best one on the floor won’t yield much success.
The change in personnel was supposed to help the Wizards become, like, a weird version of the Golden State Warriors — except, they don’t have Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson nor Draymond Green. They had Wall, an injured Bradley Beal and Jared Dudley.
The poor roster construction and Wittman’s inability to make adjustments on the fly has resulted in a ridiculously disappointing season for the Wizards. Currently, the team is three games below .500 and placed 10th in the Eastern Conference.
Washington, though, has looked pretty impressive over the past few games.
The Wizards, led by Wall, dominated the Detroit Pistons en route to their most impressive blowout victory in years. They backed that performance up by securing another home win against the Chicago Bulls. Washington now holds tie-breakers against the Pistons and Bulls should they finish with the same record.
More importantly, the Wizards are finally starting to play with some fire.
I don’t know why, but the Wizards have lacked intensity this season.
Perhaps it’s because the players they have on the roster just don’t play with fire.
Washington is missing someone like Trevor Booker, who helped give the team energy off the bench a few years ago.
Ernie Grunfeld added several veteran pieces to the team this past summer, but none of them were known as fiery players.
Now that Markieff Morris is on the team, the Wizards are starting to embrace their underdog status once again.
After experiencing some success in the NBA Playoffs, it might have gotten to the team’s head. They coasted against opponents that they should’ve beaten and ultimately lost. Since Morris has arrived (or, at least while he’s on the floor), Washington is beginning to embrace the physical nature of the game more.
At the end of the day, Wall will lead the team and his play will dictate how everyone else performs.
If Wall enters the game and seems out of it, the rest of the team will enter autopilot as well.
Against Detroit and especially against the Bulls, Wall was aggressive from the get-go and his teammates fed off his energy. Wall is having the best individual season of his career, but he often took days off against lesser opponents, allowing the likes of Shelvin Mack and Emmanuel Mudiay to outperform him.
There’s less than 20 games remaining in the season and it looks like the Washington Wizards are finally beginning to play with a sense of urgency. At this point, they don’t have much to lose. They aren’t competing for a top spot in the conference anymore. If they continue to take it one game at a time, the Wizards might end up surprising some folks — including me.