The Washington Wizards’ 2020-21 season is officially over after the Philadelphia 76ers eliminated them in a 129-112 loss. Now, Ted Leonsis and Tommy Sheppard need to address the elephant in the room: head coach Scott Brooks.
The loss on Wednesday marked the end of a rollercoaster season that, in the last 30 games, helped shift the narrative around the Wizards. In less than two months, they went from being a laughing stock to a playoff team. Even though their time in the postseason was short-lived, their late-season run and postseason trip demonstrated a team full of potential that might be one piece away from being a contender.
Despite all the improvements and turnaround, the Washington Wizards need to move on from Scott Brooks.
However, moral victories aren’t what matters in playoff basketball. They certainly shouldn’t matter to Washington’s front office, especially given the uncertainty surrounding Bradley Beal. Will he ask for a trade? Will he stay put? There’s no telling what might happen, but Leonsis should do everything in his power to keep Beal in the District. Beal should stay. Brooks should not.
A recent Washington Post article asked if Brooks deserved another chance. The short answer: No. Emphatically no.
Brooks was once touted as a coaching virtuoso. That mystique should have finally worn off this season. At one point, the Wizards were allowing up to 120 points per game. Also, they were 15 games below .500 back in April.
Yes, the Wizards started winning and their defense improved slightly as the season progressed, except that improvement resulted in only having the 20th-ranked defensive efficiency rating. Such a glaring flaw couldn’t have been more obvious in the Philadelphia series.
The defense was nonexistent in terms of effort and schemes. The strategy was to try and outscore their opponent, not stop them. Anyone who knows basketball, let alone a head coach, knows that doesn’t work.
Reason #1 Scott Brooks needs to go: He can’t take the Washington Wizards to the next level.
Doc Rivers showed Wizards fans how a great coach conducts themselves. The 76ers knocked the Wizards out of the playoffs due to a lopsided matchup on the sidelines. By making in-game adjustments, lineup changes, and keeping Philadelphia focused in the face of adversity, Rivers ensured the 76ers were always the ones in control even after they lost Joel Embiid.
By comparison, with Washington’s injuries and scheduling issues because of the pandemic, it took Brooks an entire season to get back on track. Even then, they still ended up at the eighth seed with a sub-.500 record. Heck, it took him three weeks to finally put Daniel Gafford in the starting lineup over…Alex Len. Too little too late.
Reason #2 Scott Brooks needs to go: There’s too much of a stain attached to Brooks.
The biggest argument for keeping Brooks in Washington is that he led the Wizards to three playoff appearances in five seasons. On paper, that sounds pretty good. However, whenever they were out of contention, they were near or at the bottom of the league.
Scott Brooks has a proven track record of underachieving, and that’s the biggest reason he shouldn’t be re-signed. He’s had Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and James Harden on the same team and only went to the Finals once (and lost). All three eventually became MVPs.
Now, he has Westbrook (again) with an elite scorer in Bradley Beal, yet his team still underachieved, and they were atrocious until that April-May miracle. Nothing indicates things are going to get much better with him at the helm, either.
This year’s free agency presents many opportunities for the Wizards. They have a chance to sign players who could elevate them to contender status (like John Collins, DeMar DeRozan, even Kawhi Leonard).
In a perfect world, newly signed stars want to compete for a championship. If those stars see a coach with Brooks’s dossier, they’re likely to ask for more money to make it worth their while in case things don’t work out from a win-loss standpoint. When money becomes the primary motivator for signing, there won’t be enough cash in Washington to pay the solid role players required to build a competitive team. And if they keep Brooks for another season, we can expect more of what we saw from him this year.
It’s time to say goodbye and let Scott Brooks find work elsewhere.