Scott Brooks has apparently reached a breaking point. For the first time in his three years on the job, the Wizards head coach has made significant changes to his starting lineup.
With Dwight Howard out on Tuesday against the Clippers due to his strained piriformis muscle, Brooks is calling on second-year center Thomas Bryant to start in his place. Kelly Oubre Jr. will also take Markieff Morris' spot in the starting lineup, as the Wizards aim to shake things up amid a disastrous 5-11 start.
This is the first start in Bryant's NBA career. The 21-year-old has played spot minutes in six games so far this season with the Wizards, who signed him off waivers this past summer.
Brooks usually goes with backup center Ian Mahinmi to start in Howard's place. But with his team lacking energy, he believes Bryant can provide it.
"He plays with a high motor and he plays with a lot of enthusiasm," Brooks said. "We need better effort. We need better energy and we need better play."
Brooks said he hopes Bryant's eagerness will rub off on the other starters. John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter Jr. have been part of a Wizards' rotation that has far too often produced listless efforts this season, particularly on defense.
Bryant will have his shortcomings and a learning curve, but Brooks saw something in the team's game on Sunday he hopes translates to the starting lineup. Brooks emptied his bench with his team down big to the Blazers and Bryant helped key a near comeback.
There was one play in particular that caught Brooks' eye. Bryant threw down an alley-oop and ran over to the Wizards bench, smiling and pointing at his teammates. He was making the most of a rare opportunity to play, and he was having fun.
Oubre, 22, will get his first career start that wasn't created by an injury. He has made 26 starts in his four NBA seasons, but usually in the place of Porter or Morris when they were out.
Like Bryant, Oubre can infuse some much-needed life into the Wizards' lineup. He plays an emotional style and tries as hard as anyone on the team on the defensive end.
"Coach's decision," Brooks said of sitting Morris. "I just feel like we need to try a different lineup."
Morris is averaging just 6.9 points and 3.3 rebounds while shooting 34.7 percent in his last 10 games. He is being demoted mostly due to the simple need for a change and the fact he hasn't been playing well.
But Brooks believes Morris can help improve the bench by becoming a focus of their offensive sets.
"We're gonna try to stabilize that unit a little bit," Brooks said.
These are undoubtedly the most drastic lineup changes Brooks has made in his tenure so far in Washington. The team needed a shakeup, and this certainly qualifies as one.
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