Second Unit Struggles
As much energy as Russell Westbrook, Bradley Beal, and Thomas Bryant brought to the starting lineup on Wednesday, the second unit did the exact opposite. Aside from Davis Bertans’ 14 points off the bench, nearly every member of the Wizards’ bench had nights to forget. Troy Brown, the Wizards’ former first-round pick, had three points with a -23 plus/minus, and backup point guard Ish Smith put up seven points on 28.5 percent shooting in 23 minutes of play.
Each of these players has proven to be a capable scorer in the NBA and by no means will this season-opener be a complete representation of the Wizards’ bench for the rest of the season. However, head coach Scott Brooks’ decision to restrict Russell Westbrook’s minutes and pull him from back-to-back contests means that it is imperative that players like Brown and Smith provide a spark off of the bench. Against the 76ers, there was no spark from the second unit. Especially not when Brooks sent out the oddly configured line up of Westbrook, Smith, Raul Neto, Brown Jr, and Robin Lopez.
With Russell Westbrook now on the team, seeing Smith get 23 minutes in the opener is a bit odd, especially when he played fairly poorly. This storyline will certainly be something to monitor as the season progresses and bench players get more experience in their rotation spots.