4 Takeaways from the Washington Wizards’ 129-119 loss to the Utah Jazz

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Washington Wizards Shabazz Napier

Washington Wizards Shabazz Napier (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

Shabazz Napier, Starting Point Guard

Stop me if you’ve heard this before. The Washington Wizards have a new starting point guard. Ish Smith started the season as the number one guy. Then Isaiah Thomas took over once he was healthy. Then Gary Payton II when the Wizards were riddled with injury. Then Ish Smith again once Isaiah Thomas got traded. Now, it looks like newly-acquired Shabazz Napier will be handling the starting point guard duties.

Napier got his first start as a Wizard against the Brooklyn Nets and was once again with the starting unit against the Jazz. So far, the NBA journeyman has been solid in just nine games with his new team, including an incredibly efficient 27-point performance in the Wizards’ overtime loss to the Bucks. As a Wizard, he’s averaging 10.6 points and 3.8 assists but is also making a big impact on the defensive end. He came into the game vs Utah owning the team’s best defensive rating over the previous eight games.

The move to the starting lineup is the right one. Offensively, Napier might not push the pace the same way Smith does, but he’s not much of a dropoff. He’s certainly more of a three-point threat than Smith, and his defense is better. Plus, Smith is a great catalyst off the bench, helping spark the Wizards’ bench unit, which has been one of the NBA’s most productive all season long.

In just a few games, Napier’s played himself into the starting lineup. More strong performances down the stretch and Napier could force the Wizards to make a tough decision about who will backup Wall next season.

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