Editor’s Note: Wiz Biz is back after a six week break! Apologize for the break, but many circumstances occurred here that prevented my work on writing, hopefully going forward this won’t happen again.
The Big Picture
The more things the more things stay the same with this season. Now more than ever the Washington Wizards are a franchise without direction on the treadmill of mediocrity. Of course the biggest thing that has changed was the trade with Phoenix Suns and the Memphis Grizzlies (cross out) that netted the Wizards Trevor Ariza and delt away Kelly Oubre and Austin Rivers. At the time of writing Washington is 3.5 games out of the playoffs and in 11th place. They are also without their “best player” John Wall for the rest of the season due to an ankle injury and are faced with his monster contract beginning next season, this contract is seemingly widely considered to be among the worst in the league.
All of this is to say, it is my opinion that the Wizards should do a “mini-tank” similar to what the Memphis Grizzlies did last season. In that, for one season a team tanks while retaining its best players in order to get a high draft pick that they can either use or trade for a high value player. The Ariza trade seems to indicate that the club will continue to try to make the playoffs though, so I guess that’s is the goal for the 2019 season.
The Last Week
W vs ATL 114-98 (1/2)
The Wizards tipped off the new year with a win over the team directly below them in the standings. Washington dominated the first half, but, as it often does, the shooting for the Wizards dried up towards the end of the 3rd quarter and into the 4th. The wiz managed to turn back on in the 4th and won with a cushy margin.
Several Wizards had good to great games in this battle of eastern conference welterweights. Bradley Beal did his share once again with a team leading 24 points, it really is a crime that he is behind John Wall in the all-star vote as he has been the far superior player this season. Jeff Green continued his strong season, coming in second in terms of scoring with 22 points. Tomas Satoransky came near a triple-double with 14 points, 11 assists, and 7 rebounds. One the biggest positives of Wall being out is that Sato will be forced to get more run, let’s hope he makes the most of it.
The other revelation since I have been gone is the rise to near stardom of Indiana product Thomas Bryant. Bryant had another deadly efficient performance going 5-7 from the field for 16 points and grabbing 15 boards. He is the brightest spot this season.
L @ MIA 114-98 (1/4)
The Wizards really could’ve stood to win this one. While the Heat are five spots ahead of Washington in the standings, they are only four games behind them in actuality. If the goal is to make the playoffs, then a tiebreaker like this could hurt the team down the line. Onto the actual game.
The Wizards were absolutely dragged on the interior, once Thomas Bryant got in foul trouble early Hassan Whiteside absolutely dominated Ian Mahinmi. With Markieff Morris out for six weeks due to a neck injury, and Otto Porter on minutes restriction, there simply wasn’t enough even semi big men to do anything to really stop the Heat from assaulting the inside.
Bradley Beal attempted to will the team to victory on his own with 33 points and Otto Porter played well leading the bench mob (an interesting idea to play with in the future) with 14 points. However once the Heat retook a sizable lead in the 4th, it just seemed like the team was one of gas as they couldn’t put together enough defensive stops. A good team effort though.
W @ OKC 116-98 (1/6)
If anyone knows how the 16-24 Wizards beat one of the best teams in the league at home please tell me. It was just the Wizards night as Russell Westbrook and Paul George combined to shoot 39% from the field for only 42 points (not a lot by their standards). The Wizards dominated the high powered Thunder basically all game past a competitive first quarter and were able to slip Troy Brown and the now waived Ron Baker for the last few minutes. A totally shocking result in Oklahoma City
Ian Mahinmi was strong defensively and had the 2nd largest plus/minus on the team. He was able to keep Thunder Center Steven Adams in check for most of the game on the glass. Bradley Beal and Trevor Ariza were both wildly inefficient from the field, but the slack was picked up by the Otto Porter led bench. I’m really starting to think that Otto coming off the bench as a 6th man is the best path moving forward.