What’s Wrong with the Washington Wizards?

Toby Wynn, Staff Writer

In the 2016-17 NBA season, the Washington Wizards finished with a 49-33 record. For the first time in franchise history, they won the Southeast division title but lost a hard-fought second-round series to the Boston Celtics. The following season, injuries bombarded the team’s star, John Wall. However, another player stepped up in his place to help the Wizards squeeze into the 8th seed in the East. His name is Bradley Beal. Beal has been very good for the Wizards recently and even made his first all-star team last year. So with John Wall healthy, Bradley Beal shining as a new co-star, and the acquisition of Dwight Howard over the summer, why are the Wizards 2-7? Even though Dwight Howard has been sidelined with a lower back injury, there is no reason that the Wizards should be bottom feeders like the Bulls or the Hawks.

I believe one of the main reasons for the Wizards’ lack of success is that John Wall is underperforming. To prove this, I’m going to show you John Wall’s win shares per 48 minutes. According to basketballreference.com, win shares per 48 minutes is defined as “an estimate of the number of wins contributed by a player per 48 minutes.” Since his rookie year in 2010-11, John Wall has had the following win shares per 48 minutes: .041, .071, .134, .128, .132, .098, .149, 0.92, and .046. The most recent statistic, .046, is the lowest he’s had since his rookie year and it’s showing. As the team’s leader, John Wall is not stepping up and I believe this is one of the biggest problems with the team’s situation.

Another problem the Wizards have is their coach Scott Brooks. Brooks was previously famous for coaching the extremely young and talented Oklahoma City Thunder teams of the early 2010s. He was highly criticized as he had all the talent in the world, yet he somehow could not produce a championship, and he was ultimately fired by the Thunder in 2015. One of his big problems with coaching was his lack of creativity when calling plays. He would frequently rely on the main stars to do everything while not really thinking up too much strategy. I see parallels to this situation in Washington because, like in OKC, the Wizards offense tends to be really mundane and predictable and the team is paying for it. The Cleveland Cavaliers are one of the few teams worse than the Wizards right now and they’ve already fired their head coach so I wouldn’t be surprised if Brooks is out the door soon. Despite all the problems in Washington, I like how Beal has played thus far and I think other young talent and role players such as Kelly Oubre Jr. and Markieff Morris will help push the Wizards in the right direction. Oubre Jr. is currently averaging 13 points per game which is career high and Morris is averaging 10.1 points per game with 4.5 rebounds per game. Although not stars, these two are producing at a nice rate and I think that if more of the Wizards played like these two, they could turn their season around.