If you truly want to know what the 2017-18 Washington Wizards are like as a team this season, looking at their past two games might give you a pretty good indication. First came the Christmas Day showdown with the Boston Celtics. The Celtics’ first Christmas Day home game was a game to remember for the Wizards, who fed off 25 points from Bradley Beal and 21 points and 14 assists from John Wall to overcome one of the best teams in the East.
The good times, however, were short-lived. Two days later the Wizards traveled to Atlanta to face the last-place Hawks, and a lackluster performance resulted in a 113-99 loss to a team that is only 6-11 at home.
What to Make of the 2017-2018 Washington Wizards
What are we supposed to make of this Wizards team? They currently sit right in the thick of the playoff race in the Eastern Conference with a 19-16 record, but while the record looks decent on paper, there are problems in Washington that could get the way of a team chasing after its first conference finals appearance since 1979.
One of the main problems the Wizards face is playing down to their competition. The Wiz Kids are 9-10 against teams below .500, a troubling stat for any playoff team, though it is encouraging that they are 10-6 against teams above .500. Still, to be an elite team you need to beat the teams you’re supposed to, and the Wizards have not been doing that.
Everyone Needs to Pitch In
Another main problem is their distribution of wealth. While they do have one of the best backcourts in the NBA, they rely heavily on their guards to produce, which can mean that the rest of the team isn’t always stepping up to help. Example? Even though John Wall is averaging nearly 8.9 assists per game alone, the Wizards are only averaging a meager 22.6 assists per game as a team. Rebounding is even worse, as the Wizards sit in the bottom half of the league in rebounds per game at 43.3, routinely getting out-rebounded by teams that have lower rebounding numbers than they do. They are not dominating where they should, and it’s affected the team in many ways this season.
A True Team Effort
What do we make of this Wizards team? It’s hard to tell. The emergence of Mike Scott off the bench has been helpful to a team known for its lack of depth, but the Wizards will need a more all-around team effort to be effective going forward. It would be nice if they could rely on their superstars to carry them into the playoffs, but this year’s team doesn’t seem like it will be able to rely on any one player. The Wizards will need a true team effort in order to do well this season, and while it’s nice beating the big dogs like Boston, it’s the wins over the teams like the Hawks that will be a better indication of what type of team the Wizards can be.
WASHINGTON, USA – February 4: Washington Wizards’ John Wall (2) tries to dribble past New Orleans Pelicans’ Solomon Hill (44) at the Verizon Center in Washington, USA on February 4, 2017. The Wizards lead the Pelicans 53-49 at halftime and are trying to claim their 17th straight win at home. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)