Wizards

Quick Links

State of the Wizards: Scott Brooks' offense reaching new heights

State of the Wizards: Scott Brooks' offense reaching new heights

Top storylines

Brooks' offense is reaching new heights - The teams Scott Brooks coached in Oklahoma City were so talented that someday there will probably be an ESPN '30 for 30' on how they never won an NBA title together. Just look at the current list of the top scorers in the NBA. Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Kevin Durant are all in the top 10 and Westbrook leads the entire league with 31.2 points per game. All three are probably on track to be in the Hall of Fame.

Those OKC teams were absolutely stacked on offense, yet Brooks' current Wizards team has done several things offensively this season that the Thunder never accomplished with Brooks in charge. On Sunday, they had a 23-game streak of scoring 100 points or more snapped. That was the longest such streak in Brooks' coaching career. And this season the Wizards are averaging 107.9 points per game as a team. The Thunder never did that for a full season.

Somehow, Brooks' system is being taken to new heights by John Wall, Bradley Beal and company. Neither Wall or Beal had heard the points per game stat, but it makes sense to them.

"We’re shooting the ball very well. We have five guys in the double figures in the starting five. We all move the ball very well," Wall said. "You know who is going to get the most shots, but you don’t really know who is going to take the big shots at the right time. We all trust in moving the ball and going from the good-to-great pass. That’s what makes our team great."

"I didn't know that. That's kind of hard to believe with the three-headed monster that he had before. That's unique," Beal said. 

When asked if it was all about ball movement, Beal offered this:

"I think we are a little bit better at that than they were."

Brooks didn't directly compare his current team to his former players, but he too thinks it's been a collective effort. 

"We have good players, guys that know how to play and that pass the ball. We are passing the ball as well as we have all season long the last couple of months," Brooks explained. "We've got good scorers. We've got good guys that understand that it takes everybody to make an offense work. We have good screen-setters. Marcin is one of the best in the league, if not the best at getting guys open for points. I think guys are just enjoying playing with each other on the floor."

All of the Wizards' success is making Brooks look very smart. There were critics who wondered if he could coach given all the talent he had in Oklahoma City. There were some who downplayed his impact. 

It's not like Wall and Beal are scrubs, but clearly what Brooks preaches actually works.

"You can talk to any coach in the history of this game and not one of them has won at a high level without talented players. If they don't think that, they don't have good enough friends to tell them the truth," Brooks said. "You win in this league with good players. We had a successful run. You can argue probably that the three players are one, two and three in the MVP voting. The same thing we have here, we have a really good team with a lot of good players. They are high-level players and All-Star players. Brad eventually is going to be one. You win with good players. I don't look back on what happened to me and the what ifs. The injuries the trades; those are all part of the game. Unfortunately, it happened. But I've moved on. I've got nothing but good respect for the guys that I've coached and I'm looking forward to creating that same atmosphere here with our group of players."

The Wizards are happy to have Brooks and they seem to have completely bought in to his message. Just look at this play in Wednesday's win over the Raptors and how well the offense moved:

As Beal said earlier this season about Brooks and the Wizards: "our flow is awesome." Indeed.

[RELATED: Why Wizards chose to waive House and keep Burke after Jennings signing]

Eastern Conference standings

Stat line of the week: Bradley Beal 2/24 at Sixers - 40 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, steal, 15-for-25 FG, 8-for-10 FT

[RELATED: 5 things to know about new Wizards guard Brandon Jennings]

Quote of the Week

Tweet (or Instagram) of the Week

Schedule at a glance

Mon. - OFF
Tue. - 112-108 win vs. Warriors
Wed. - 105-96 win at Raptors
Thu. - OFF
Fri. - 7 p.m. vs. Raptors
Sat. - OFF
Sun. - 5 p.m. vs. Magic

[RELATED: Barkley and Shaq say John Wall is East's best point guard]

Quick Links

With nine games left, where do the Wizards stand in the East and NBA Draft Lottery?

With nine games left, where do the Wizards stand in the East and NBA Draft Lottery?

At the beginning of the week, the Washington Wizards had 12 games left on the schedule and needed to win a minimum of eight or nine of those games if they hoped to make the playoffs.

It’s Thursday night and Washington’s loss to the Jazz makes three in a row.

With nine games left on the schedule, where do they stand in the East postseason race and the draft lottery order?

Eastern Conference Standings

Losing three-straight games hasn’t actually dropped the Wizards from the 11th spot in the East, where they’ve hovered the last couple weeks. For that they can thank the tanking Atlanta Hawks.

Don’t think those L’s aren’t costing Washington, though. In the same span of time, the 8-seed Heat have won three in a row.

Now Bradley Beal and Co. are a full six games out of the final playoff spot with nine games to go. They also trail Orlando (34-38) in ninth and Charlotte (32-39) in 10th.

They’re not absolutely, certainly, 100-percent eliminated from playoff contention, but they must win every game left.

Even that might not be enough.

NBA Draft Lottery

Back-to-back-to-back losses took a major toll on whatever playoff hopes Washington had left. For a silver lining, look no further than the team’s draft lottery position.

The Wizards started the week ninth in the draft lottery order, which gave them 20.3 percent odds of scoring a top-four pick (preferably in the form of a Duke freshman or Ja Morant). That ninth spot also carries a 4.5 percent chance at the top-overall pick.

While the Wiz kids were busy dropping 3 games, the two teams immediately ahead of them in the lottery order had better luck.

The Grizzlies won their only game so far this week, while the Pelicans won one of two.

Those results dropped New Orleans to number nine, boosted Washington to number eight and left them tied with Memphis at 15.5 games out of number one in the lottery order (though Memphis’s win percentage is fractionally lower and keeps them in seventh).

If the Wizards can pass the Grizzlies and climb into seventh, that’s a big deal in terms of lottery odds. Simulating the drawing, the ninth-place team gets a top-four pick once in every five simulations. The seventh-place team gets a top-four pick once in every three simulations.

Look Ahead

Washington can’t lose another game if they want to make the playoffs. This is literally must-win territory.

Even winning out is no guarantee they’ll advance to the postseason.

Up next, Washington hosts Miami at home on Saturday, followed by a West Coast road trip the following week.

Games to Watch

Heat at Wizards, Saturday 7 PM

Timberwolves at Grizzlies, Saturday 8 PM

MORE WIZARDS NEWS: 

Quick Links

Ja Morant turning into a 'hell, yeah' NBA Draft option if Wizards get lottery lucky

Ja Morant turning into a 'hell, yeah' NBA Draft option if Wizards get lottery lucky

The Washington Wizards selected John Wall first overall in the 2010 NBA Draft. Other lottery picks followed in subsequent years. None were point guards. Nobody bothered contemplating such a scenario.

That’s no longer the case.

There is Wall’s uncertain physical status for next season and beyond because of a ruptured Achilles.

Thursday’s mind-blowing performance from Murray State point guard Ja Morant put such contemplation into overdrive.

For many NBA-only fans, the 12th seeded Racers' 83-64 thrashing over no. 5 Marquette in its West Region first-round game marked the initial opportunity to watch the buzz-worthy Morant. He did not disappoint.

Morant, who only trailed Duke phenom Zion Williamson for jaw-dropping highlights this season, dazzled with 17 points, 11 rebounds and 16 assists for the first triple-double in the NCAA Tournament since 2012. His next chance to wow comes Saturday against fourth-seeded Florida State.

Imagine the Wizards receive some lottery luck ahead of June’s NBA Draft. Not the overflowing pot of gold kind that means grabbing Williamson first overall, but jumping up above the average options to the second or third selection. Washington (30-43) has a 26.3 percent chance of landing a top 4 selection, according to the draft website Tankathon.

Williamson might be the only player selected ahead of Morant in June in what one NBA executive deems a two-player draft. “Zion makes it feel better than it is. After Zion and Ja, just an average draft,” the executive said.

You’re on the clock. Duke’s RJ Barrett is another top 3 candidate, but Morant gained ground on the wing guard and others all season by averaging 24.0 points, 10.0 assists and multiple viral video moments a game. By June, Morant might be the clear-cut second-best player.

Wall’s recovery timeline keeps the five-time All-Star sideline for the majority if not all of the 2019-20 season. He will eventually return, however. That factor cannot be ignored especially with his 4-year, $170 million supermax contract starting next season. Ideally, the selection compliments Bradley Beal and Wall in the starting lineup.

Wall also turns 29 in July and recovery from such a devastating injury presents significant unknowns.

Tomas Satoransky, Wall's primary backup and the current starter, is a restricted free agent this summer. The Wizards would like him back, but the marketplace might have other ideas.

Time’s up. Turn the selection card in. Take Morant or not?

“Hell, yes!” multiple college basketball sources responded via text.

Others went with a standard roster-building approach.

“I take the best player available and figure it out,” an NBA scout texted.

In other words, hell yeah on Morant.

Another NBA scout received his first extended look at wispy yet athletically super-charged Morant last summer at Chris Paul’s basketball camp. “I thought he was ordinary because he played more off the ball,” the scout said of the 6-foot-3, 174-pound Morant. “But now he’s really, really good. Can pass with either hand.”

The scout offered an NBA comparison: John Wall. “Not as fast as John, but he’s got the same explosive athleticism at the rim.”

The counter-argument, a mild one at that, looks beyond next season.

Playing time ranked high among the reasons why the Wizards sought low-cost backup point guards over the years for Wall. Combo guards aside, if Wall goes 35-38 minutes nightly, why invest significant assets into a 10-13 minute-a-game player.

There’s some debate over whether Morant could play off the ball next to Wall. The sophomore is shooting 33.6 percent on 4.8 three-point attempts per game this season.

Based on the initial reaction from the various sources, nobody cares. Take the talent and figure out the rest. It's unclear what the Wizards have in Wall going forward. Maybe trade one of them down the line. The Wizards only have three healthy players under contract for next season. The 2019 first-round pick could immediately become a high-rotation player.

Such expectations rise if the Wizards jump up in the lottery. Historically there’s no chance they consider a point guard in the lottery with Wall on the roster. Times are different especially if there’s a chance to grab a hell yeah talent like Morant.

MORE WIZARDS NEWS: