Most NBA fans already had an idea of which teams they were going to keep an eye on when the 2019 season began. There were the new star duos formed out in Los Angeles, the reunion of Russell Westbrook and James Harden in Houston, and the now Kemba Walker-led Celtics trying to barge into the expected two-team race between the Bucks and Sixers out East.
Beyond the hopeful title contenders, there were the teams that didn’t have much in the way of playoff dreams, but had young players worth keeping an eye on, like the Grizzlies, Cavaliers, or Hawks. If you were to rank those teams prior to the season in terms of excitement, however, it’s a safe bet that the Wizards would have been near the bottom of most lists. They were miserable to watch last year, and this season was supposed to be even worse. John Wall is probably not playing all season as he recovers from an Achilles injury, leaving Bradley Beal as the lone All-Star caliber player on the roster. Washington sent away Otto Porter Jr. and Kelly Oubre Jr. in trades last season and appear to be in the process of re-tooling their roster. It’s not a rebuild, because they have too much money attached to their stars, but they’re definitely re-working the pieces around those stars. Considering all of this, most people assumed the Wizards would not be good this season.
And right now, the Wizards are absolutely a bad team. They’re 3-8, have the 20th worst net rating in the NBA, the second worst defense, and their second best player is a toss up between Thomas Bryant, Davis Bertans, and Isaiah Thomas. This is a pretty terrible basketball team but you should absolutely be watching them every single chance you can. Why? Because they not only currently have the best offense in the NBA, but they’re an absolute blast to watch.
Ever since putting Thomas into the starting lineup, Scott Brooks and the Wizards have completely abandoned the idea of defense. Sure, they make a polite gesture at attempting to play it, but in reality, their defense is more like a facade as they wait out a chance to get the ball and go score again. They’re seventh in pace, but what’s interesting is that they’re middle of the pack in the number of shots they attempt from 3-point range. This is not the typical bad team you see where all they do is sprint down the floor and chuck up a 3-pointer. They’re running an actual offense with ball movement and motion and have turned Bradley Beal, already a great scorer, into one of the NBA’s biggest offensive threats. After a rough start to the season from distance, he’s now lighting teams up from most of his high volume areas.
The Wizards are getting him the ball in areas where he knows he can score and he’s firing away with absolutely no fear. The only player with a brighter green light for shooting this year are probably James Harden. Unsurprisingly, the two leaders in points per game right now are Harden and Beal. This is team that knows what it is and has fully embraced that identity. Frankly, not enough teams do that. Too many try to be something they aren’t and slog through bad games and losses. The Wizards may lose, but at least they play to a style that fits their personnel. It just so happens that the personnel is that of a video game team: All offense, no defense. Washington skips past the boring parts to get the fun stuff, which for a non-playoff team is somewhat commendable.
On Sunday, they even managed to get the Magic, one of the league’s worst offenses and best defenses, to open things up and play an up-and-down game, in which Beal put forth a Herculean effort with 34 points and eight assists in a 125-121 loss. You can see in the highlight reel of Beal’s night the terrific offense the Wizards run — they just create similar space for opponents’ offenses on the other end.
Bradley Beal's 📊:
— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) November 18, 2019
So do yourself a favor and catch the Wizards on the early slate of games sometime this week. Whoever they play will more than likely give up 120 points and still win. That’s who the Wizards are. They’ve already produced the third highest scoring regulation game in NBA history this season, and each game seemingly becomes a track meet. In a way, that makes them one of the most entertaining teams in the NBA right now.