Wizards

5 takeaways from Wizards-Sixers, including another big game from Jerome Robinson

Wizards

The Washington Wizards lost to the Philadelphia 76ers 107-98 on Wednesday afternoon in Orlando. Here are five takeaways from what went down...

Still winless

The Wizards arrived in Orlando with the worst record of the 22 teams invited by the NBA and without their three-best players. Though they have been competitive against some good teams so far, they have yet to win a single game.

They pushed the Sixers admirably on Wednesday, only to see Philly hold on late in the fourth quarter. With the loss, the Wizards are now 0-4 in the NBA's restart. They also lost all three of their exhibition games, so technically they are 0-7 in Orlando and haven't won a game since March 10.

The strangest part is they now have the eighth-worst record in the NBA based on win percentage, but remain stuck with the ninth-best lottery odds. That is thanks to the rule change the NBA made as part of its restart format. Just imagine if that stands and the Wizards go into lottery night with fewer ping pong balls than the Hornets, who are locked into the eighth-best odds. What if either team lucks into a top pick?

There was some potentially big news from this game as Sixers star Ben Simmons suffered a knee injury. It was a non-contact play and it was hard to tell exactly what he hurt, but he left the game immediately in the second half and went to the trainers room. Sixers general manager Elton Brand then followed him through the door.

 

Simmons' status could have a large impact on the Eastern Conference race, which appears relatively wide open at the moment with Milwaukee showing some cracks.

Robinson continues to shine

There is reason to believe several Wizards players improved since March despite the unusual circumstances of quarantine and, in some cases, the lack of resources. But no one has made a bigger leap than Jerome Robinson, if you consider where he was before the league's hiatus began.

Robinson has mostly thrived in a larger role with Bradley Beal out, now finally able to spread his wings in big minutes at shooting guard. He popped off for 19 points on 5-for-11 shooting with three assists and three rebounds. He had a team-high 11 points at halftime, including a three to beat the buzzer.

Robinson looks like a very different guy than we saw before the break. We haven't seen many signs at all of hesitation or a lack of confidence with his shot. He seems patient, calm and fully in control when the ball is in his hands and he has been able to show off some play-making skills that weren't really apparent before.

Now through four games, Robinson is averaging 17 points. Not bad at all.

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Brown more than held his own

The box score may suggest Troy Brown Jr. had merely a solid game, but this was an important showing for him because he from start to finish looked the part against a really tough and defensively versatile team. It was another game where he carried a very large load offensively and he did not back down by any means.

Brown ended up with 17 points, eight rebounds and four assists (also four turnovers) and, perhaps more importantly, remained decisive and confident all the way through. He was tested by the big and physical frontline of Philly and showed resiliency in bouncing back from plays that didn't go his way.

While Robinson has been the most improved Wizards player, Brown has arguably been their most impressive. He has shown enough already to warrant plenty of responsibility next season on a team that figures to be quite a bit better with John Wall back.

Wagner is struggling

While two 2018 first round picks are playing well in Orlando (Robinson and Brown), another is having a bit of a tough time. Moe Wagner (five points, 2-6 FG) had another rough game, which was to be expected given he was facing a mountain of a task in matching up with Joel Embiid. 

Embiid had his way with Wagner, including on a first half sequence where he used a pump-fake to get a step on him and finished with an and-one two-handed dunk. Wagner recovered late and committed the foul. Him learning how to defend without fouling remains a work in progress. 

 

Wagner did have some moments, though. He made a three for the first time since the games returned. And he took a charge, which is his signature move. Wagner has now drawn 27 charges on the season which is more than double the Wizards' leader from last year, Bradley Beal who had 12. Wagner, in fact, is third in the NBA in the category only behind Kyle Lowry (32) and Montrezl Harrell (30).

Where are the threes?

Whether it is an intended strategy or not, the result of the Wizards missing Beal and Davis Bertans, two of the league's best three-point shooters, has been very few threes from the remaining players. They started out in Orlando taking plenty of them in the exhibition games, they just couldn't make them. But now they aren't even taking them, relatively speaking.

The Wizards entered this game averaging the second-fewest three-point attempts of any team at Disney World, only to the Spurs. Then they went out and took one (!) three in the first quarter. You just don't often see that these days.

The Wizards ended up going 7-for-21 from long range. They would probably prefer to attempt a lot more than that. Head coach Scott Brooks explained before the game how the lack of threes are affecting Rui Hachimura, who now has less space to work with in the midrange. He had another off-day, by the way, with eight points on 2-for-11 shooting.

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