Without Bryant and Wagner, Washington Wizards can’t compete with Memphis Grizzlies

Washington Wizards Bradley Beal Ja Morant (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
Washington Wizards Bradley Beal Ja Morant (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Washington Wizards need to get their centers back. Badly.

No Thomas Bryant. No Moritz Wagner. No problems for the Memphis Grizzlies as they beat the Washington Wizards 128-111.

Frontcourt problems defined this game for Washington. With their top two centers dealing with injury and sidelined, the Wizards turned to Ian Mahinmi. Mahinmi got his first start of the season, but couldn’t do much to stop the Grizzlies’ onslaught on the rim.

The paint was always going to be a problem in this one. The Wizards rank among the league’s worst at defending down low even when fully healthy, giving up an average of 51.8 points per game in that area, per NBA.com. The Grizzlies, however, are one of the NBA’s best teams at scoring in the paint. They proved that against Washington.

As you can see in their shot chart from StatMuse, the Grizzlies attacked where the Wizards were weak. By the end of the night, they had scored 70 points in the paint and far exceeded their total points per game average of 109.

No one hurt the Wizards’ interior defense more than Brandon Clarke, who is probably still dunking the ball somewhere. It was Clarke, not Ja Morant or Rui Hachimura, who was the most impressive rookie, and he did nearly all of his damage around the rim.

As the only real rim protector left on the active roster, Mahinmi tried his best to stop the rookie, but he never stood a chance.


Now Bryant and Wagner are not exactly top-tier rim protectors. Wagner probably is better suited taking charges under the hoop than he is trying to swat shots away. Besides, the Wizards give up some of the most points in the paint in the NBA, even when those two are healthy. But at the very least, they are bigger bodies that could have bothered the Grizzlies down low.

Even if they weren’t rejecting shots, the two could have at least altered shots and made sure everything around the rim wasn’t a highlight-reel dunk. Davis Bertans was offering little resistance against Jonas Valanciunas, even if he did draw a technical foul from the Grizzlies center.

Without Bryant and Wagner, the Wizards also struggled on the boards, losing the rebounding battle 46-34. It’s unclear exactly how long the Wizards will be without both Wagner and Bryant, but the sooner they get them back, the better.

4 solutions to the center position for the Washington Wizards. dark. Next

This was the second game this season that the Wizards have been without both of their top two centers. They’ve now lost both of those games. And things aren’t getting any easier. Up next, Andre Drummond, Blake Griffin, and the Detroit Pistons.