3 ways the Washington Wizards can fix their defense

Washington Wizards Thomas Bryant Marcus Smart (Staff Photo By Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)
Washington Wizards Thomas Bryant Marcus Smart (Staff Photo By Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald) /
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Washington Wizards Isaiah Thomas Jayson Tatum
Washington Wizards Isaiah Thomas Jayson Tatum (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images) /

Isaiah Thomas works better off the bench

The Isaiah Thomas story has been great this season. Seeing all the love that the city of Boston still has for their former floor general was amazing. But all that said, it is time to move Thomas back to the bench.

Easing his way back from injury, Thomas started this season outside of the starting lineup, but it didn’t take long before he was promoted from the bench. Thomas spent three games as the second-unit point guard before swapping places with Ish Smith. Since his promotion, though. Thomas’s numbers have slipped in nearly all major categories.

In three games off the bench, Thomas was averaging 16 points, 7.3 assists, and 3.0 rebounds on 46 percent shooting from the field and 40 percent shooting from three.

Since becoming a starter, though, everything besides his minutes are down. His shot attempts and makes are both down, dropping his field goal percentage to 42 percent as a starter. His three-point shooting is hurting, too, dipping from 40 percent as a bench player to 36.8 percent as a starter. When Thomas starts, he’s averaging 12 points, 5.5 assists, and 1.3 rebounds.

Thomas’s offensive abilities have traditionally outweighed his defensive inabilities. But that might not be the case here. In man-to-man defense, Thomas is an obvious liability, and teams attack that matchup as a result. It’s why the Wizards are using a decent amount of zone defense. They’re trying to hide Thomas! And rightfully so.

On the one hand, Thomas does make the Wizards offense better. Per NBA.com, their offensive rating jumps about ten points when he’s on the court compared to when he’s off of it. However, Thomas decimates the defensive rating. It skyrockets from 104.7 to 125.8 when he steps on the floor. With efforts like this, it’s easy to see why.

If they want to hide him, the Wizards might have better luck hiding him in plain sight on the second unit.