Washington Wizards: Home opener proves scoring will not be a problem this season

Washington Wizards Bradley Beal Thomas Bryant Moritz Wagner (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images)
Washington Wizards Bradley Beal Thomas Bryant Moritz Wagner (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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The preseason predictions about the Washington Wizards were pretty ho-hum, but we’re four games in, and it looks like they’ll be lighting things up all season.

The most points the Washington Wizards have scored in a single game in franchise history was 161. Back then, they were still called the Bullets. How many people had them getting within one possession of that total without John Wall this season?

In their season-opening loss to the Houston Rockets, the Wizards gave plans plenty to cheer about in a 159-158 nail-biter. If you listened to any preseason podcast or prediction regarding the Wizards, chances are you heard that this team would struggle to score behind Beal.

Four games into the season, and nothing could be further from the truth. In their season opener, Bradley Beal and company kept pace with two of the NBA’s greatest scorers in James Harden and Russell Westbrook.

Beal, as expected, carried the scoring, load with a 43-point performance, bested only by a bearded 59 from his opponent. But Beal is getting the help he needs to turn this team into an offensive juggernaut. The defense was a problem last season, and it looks like it could be again this year, so they might as well try and outscore their opponents. Right?

We’re only four games in, so the sample size isn’t exactly reliable, but what the Wizards have done is still noteworthy. They’re currently fifth in the NBA in scoring, trailing the Rockets, New Orleans Pelicans, Brooklyn Nets, and Milwaukee Bucks. Their offensive rating of 113.6 trails only the Rockets and LA Clippers.

While Beal has undoubtedly been the catalyst for this early offensive explosion—he’s currently on pace for another 25-5-5 season even after a rocky first two games—he hasn’t been doing it alone.

Davis Bertans has been a flamethrower from deep. He’s currently attempting over seven threes a game and making 55.2 percent of them.  All that sharpshooting is helping him average a hyper-efficient 16 points per game off the bench. Thank you, San Antonio.

But Bertans isn’t the only second-unit scoring threat hurting opponents off the bench. Isaiah Thomas has finally made his long-awaited return as a healthy basketball player and is looking more like Boston Celtic IT than Cleveland Cavalier or Denver Nuggets IT.

In his first two games, Thomas has met if not exceeded expectations. After a 16-point, five-assist debut, Thomas got even better in the home opener, dropping a 17-point, 10-assist double-double in 24 minutes.

Thomas is looking like a gamble that will pay off well for Tommy Sheppard and the Wizards. The bench unit has been dangerous with him at the helm. Give these guys more time to get comfortable together and watch them light it up.

The most impressive and exciting wrinkle to this high-powered offense, though, is Rui Hachimura. The rookie looks like anything but through his first four games. From the floor, he’s shooting an even 50 percent. And with a game built around the mid-range, his shooting percentage gets better inside the arc. He’s shooting 54.7 percent on all two-pointers. These are great shooting numbers from a rookie, no doubt, but even better when you consider Hachimura’s role.

Per Basketball-Reference, Hachimura is second on the team in scoring and rebounding. He’s second on the team in shot attempts and minutes played. He’s second among all rookies in field goal attempts per game. He’s fourth among all rookies in points per game. And he leads all rookies in rebounds per game.

Rui isn’t merely performing nicely in a small role as the Wizards ease him into the NBA game. He’s been thrown directly into the fire and has quickly emerged as the team’s second option behind Beal. There’s a reason everyone in and around the Wizards organization has called him some variation of “special,” and we’re seeing why every night.

Hachimura shows excellent poise for a rookie, rarely looking flustered and showing no fear amongst the trees around the rim. Unfortunately, that fearlessness has gotten his shot rejected more than a few times early on, but he’s learning and showing more every game.

Against Houston, he decided to break out the three-ball. He was 0-8 from distance before the home opener. In front of the Wizards faithful, he was 3-3. Plus, he showed off a smooth turnaround fadeaway in the post, a move he worked to perfection twice, once over P.J. Tucker. For a prospect that some scouts predicted might have a low ceiling, Hachimura sure is showing a lot of potential.

Next. Ish Smith, Isaiah Thomas make a promising point guard committee. dark

One week ago, you might have thought (like most) that this Wizards team would struggle all season long. And they still might struggle to get wins. They’re currently 1-3. One thing they won’t struggle to do, though, is score. This should be fun.