Washington Wizards: January 2019 Month in Review

Washington Wizards, Bradley Beal (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Washington Wizards, Bradley Beal (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

Coming into January, the Washington Wizards’ season outlook was unclear, but the team is still fighting for the playoffs thanks to some important wins.

At the end of December, the Washington Wizards‘ season seemed dire: The team had lost seven of its last 10 games and John Wall had just announced that he was out for the rest of the season with a heel injury. One month later though, the squad has given fans a reason to feel encouraged, although the situation looks close to the same on paper.

The Wizards wrapped up January 2019 with a 8-6 record for the month—the team’s first month with a winning record since February of last season—with an overall record of 22-29. This is due in large part to victories over some of the league’s top teams. They defended their home court against the Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks on January 9 and 11, respectively, and picked up a big win on the road against the Oklahoma City Thunder on January 6.

And even though they ended in losses, the Wizards inspired confidence with competitive showings against the NBA’s two best teams, forcing the Toronto Raptors to double-overtime on January 13 (thanks to a Bradley Beal‘s 43-point triple-double) and playing the champion Golden State Warriors tough on January 24.

Unfortunately, the Wizards remained plagued by their road woes, going 2-4 away from Capital One Arena to start off 2019 (compared to 6-2 at home). There’s no shame in falling to the 76ers (January 8) and San Antonio Spurs (January 29) on the road; it’s the January 29 loss at the Cleveland Cavaliers that really stings. At a point where the Wizards are clawing to get into the playoffs and every game matters, becoming the only team in the league to lose to Cleveland twice this season is not helping.

Fortunately, they took care of games that they needed to at against less-talented opponents like the Atlanta Hawks (January 2) and a Victor Oladipo-less Indiana Pacers (January 30), as well as teams in the playoff mix like the Detroit Pistons (January 21) and at the Orlando Magic (January 25). A January 4 loss at the Miami Heat would have been nice, but acceptable.

Meanwhile, Beal continued his tear throughout the month of January, assuring himself not only an All-Star nod, but consideration for an All-NBA team if he can keep it up. In 14 games this month, Beal averaged 27.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 6.1 assists per game.

Thomas Bryant also continued to shine, including with his game-winning goaltended basket against the New York Knicks in London on January 17, averaging 11.4 points per game on 64.4 percent shooting to go with 7.5 rebounds this month. Other complementary players on the roster stepped it up at various points: Tomas Satoransky proved himself as a versatile, playmaking guard (10.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, 6.5 assists per game); Otto Porter had an promising stretch as a sixth man; and veterans like Trevor Ariza and Jeff Green were reliable contributors.

Next. Washington Wizards: Revisiting the Ariza trade after 20 games. dark

At the end of the day—or month, rather—the Wizards are pretty much in the same position they were in at the beginning of January, which is 2.5 games out of the playoffs. Overall, the Wizards picked up some momentum with some solid showings across the board in January, but will have to raise their play even more moving forward.