Preview: Washington Wizards looking to upset rolling Los Angeles Lakers

Washington Wizards Bradley Beal (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)
Washington Wizards Bradley Beal (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images) /

The Washington Wizards will look to make a statement when they visit the rolling 16-2 Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center.

Coming off of a victory over the Phoenix Suns, the Washington Wizards will face their toughest challenge yet when they face off against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Los Angeles put all their chips in on the LeBron JamesAnthony Davis duo this offseason, and so far, it’s paying off. It hasn’t taken much time for these superstars to gel. The two are combining for an average of 51.9 points and 16.3 rebounds per game.

Their successful partnership has resulted in the Lakers rolling to a league-best 16-2 record. Surprisingly, the Lakers have been getting it done with defense. When the Wizards arrive in LA, they’ll bring the NBA’s second-highest offensive rating with them. The Lakers will be waiting for them with the second-best defensive rating in the NBA, per Basketball-Reference. Something has to give.

Matchup on Paper

The Wizards have earned their six wins mostly on the shoulders of All-Star guard Bradley Beal.

Averaging 28.9 points and seven assists, Beal is willing his team to the depths of competition, night in and night out. But on some nights (ten nights so far) it hasn’t been enough.

And that’ll likely be the case against the Lakers. On most nights, no matter the opponent, the Wizards can usually claim the best player, Bradley Beal. But against the Lakers, Beal shoots down to the game’s third-best player. He’s not quite at LeBron or AD’s level yet.

With James and Davis on the floor, Washington will have to execute on defense, something they’re certainly not known for. They currently own the NBA’s worst defensive rating.

The Los Angeles frontcourt poses the most significant threat for these Wizards—they’re allowing just 43 points in the paint on average—which ranks them 5th best among the league, per

Along with Davis, the Lakers will be rolling out promising forward Kyle Kuzma and savvy vet talents like Dwight Howard, who’ve both contributed to their top-10 defense.

Rookie forward Rui Hachimura and third-year center Thomas Bryant will have their hands full, to say the least. But there is good news for the Wizards.

Through 16 games, the Wizards currently have the number one ranked offense, behind a league-leading 119.4 points per game. If they can’t stop the Lakers, maybe they can outscore them.

Wizards to Watch

On the defensive end of the ball, keep an eye on Troy Brown Jr. He’s been in a sort of slump offensively, but the Wizards plugged him into the starting lineup, hoping for a defensive impact. They didn’t do it for his scoring. They’ll need some stops from him tonight.

He’ll likely start the night out guarding LeBron, so it’ll be worth watching to see how the second-year forward handles one of the league’s toughest assignments.

On the offensive end, it’ll be hard to keep your eyes off of Beal, who will face favorable matchups against the Lakers’ guard. Aside from two-time NBA champion Danny Green, no one else among the Los Angeles’ guards are considered tenacious defenders.

Elsewhere, watch for the Wizards’ bench to continue providing a spark. Washington’s reserves currently rank second in the league in points per game with 48.3 nightly.

Lead by Davis Bertans (shooting 44 percent from deep) and former Lakers center Moritz Wagner (averaging a career-high 12.3 points), the bench is bound to have an impact in this matchup.

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The Wizards’ matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers will present not only a challenge but a true litmus test to how far they have to go until they can run with the league’s best.

Expect Bradley Beal and company to exert their forces on offense, but inevitably struggle with the two-headed beast that is LeBron James and Anthony Davis.