Washington Wizards: Isaac Bonga lived up to star billing

Washington Wizards Isaac Bonga (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)

The Washington Wizards have a new star and his name is Isaac Bonga.

The “star tracker” is nothing new for televised sports. Sports fans of all kinds know the familiar graphics: the face of each team’s biggest star, a list comparing their stats, there’s really not much to it. What Washington Wizards fans aren’t used to is seeing Isaac Bonga on the star tracker graphic.

But that’s exactly what they saw if they were acting the local broadcast of the Wizards’ scrimmage vs the Clippers on NBC Sports Washington. Isaac Bonga’s face floating next to Kawhi Leonard.

On the surface, it doesn’t make much sense. Isaac Bonga? A star?! The 4.6 ppg, 3.6 rpg, defensive stud in training was the guy to watch?

The immediate reaction: Eye roll. Long sigh. Google new draft lottery date for the 800th time. So Wizards.

Isaac Bonga lived up to star billing vs Los Angeles Clippers.

But then, something happened. The 20-year-old Bonga lived up to the star billing he was given by default. With Bradley Beal, Davis Bertans, John Wall, and Troy Brown Jr not playing vs the Clippers, someone had to fulfill the star tracker void. Bonga filled in just fine.

In the team’s first scrimmage, Bonga was quietly effective vs the Nuggets. The stat line wasn’t crazy: Five points, three assists, one rebound, one steal, one block. But somehow, +18 in 22 minutes.

Against the Clippers, Bonga made sure his contributions didn’t go unnoticed. In 28 minutes vs LA, Bonga was +15, but there’s no way he flew under the radar this time.

15 points. 12 rebonds. 57 percent from the field. Bonga was a beast. And considering Bonga’s strenght  – his defense – this type of dominance is somewhat surprising.

Bonga (along with 15-point scorer Rui Hachimura) led the team in scoring vs the Clippers, something Bonga has never done this season with the Wizards. His 12 rebounds were also a team high, another first for Bonga.

Although it won’t count as an official double-double, this is the first one of Bonga’s short career. His 12 rebounds are a career-high, and his 15 points trailed his career-high of 17 by just one bucket.

On the defensive end, Bonga was able to limit his fouls, committing just three. In their first scrimmage, Bonga fouled out.

Bonga’s age and size have made him an interesting prospect for the Wizards since he came to D.C. It’s one of the reasons a cheap flier on him and Moritz Wagner was a nobrianer last summer.

He’s young, athletic, and lenghty, but still so raw. The Wiards have a great opportunity to mold him, however,  that’s far easier said than done.

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While players and coaches alike have praised his work ethic, but he’s struggled to put it all together on a nightly basis. Although, his offense, especially his shooting, has gotten much better since the season began. It’s something he needs to keep working on in the bubble.

Against the Clippers we finally got to see what Bonga can do when he is set free. There’s not denying the potential.

Slotting in Bonga as the next star in Washington might be a bit premature after a loss that won’t even count. But the Bonga bandwagon is loading up. I suggest you hop on.

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