Wizards

Wizards

Isaac Bonga has played two good games in Orlando, they just showed up differently in the box score. Against the Nuggets on Wednesday, it was his +18 on/off point differential that stood out. On Saturday vs. the Clippers, Bonga did it all with 15 points, 12 rebounds and a +15 rating.

Plus-or-minus is by no means a perfect stat and especially when applied to single games. But for some players it tells a story that other, more conventional numbers do not. Bonga is one of those players.

He does a lot of his best work off the ball and is never a focal point of the offense. Yet, he produces for the Wizards. Usually it is in small sample sizes, but in Orlando with so many key players missing from the roster, Bonga is getting the opportunity to shine to a greater degree.

"It's funny, you can go through the league and find X number of players that don't have a good shooting night or don't score a lot of points, but they impact the game. He's one of those players," head coach Scott Brooks said.

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Brooks spent much of his two video conferences with the media on Saturday singing Bonga's praise. Bonga is clearly the type of player who Brooks appreciates. As a coach, he wants players who work hard and want to learn.

Brooks just couldn't say enough about Bonga and the intangibles he brings to the Wizards.

 

"He impacts the game because of his enthusiasm and his effort and just his spirit. Everyone wants to play with him because he just plays so hard. He makes the right plays. He's not thirsty out there," Brooks said.

"He wants to make plays for his teammates and that's why he's loved by everyone. When we first got him, [general manager] Tommy Sheppard told me 'you're going to love this kid.' He said 'he's going to grow on you from the first day you have him' and he has."

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Bonga was asked about Brooks' compliments, particularly the ones about his attitude. He suggested it is very much intentional to be Mr. Positive.

"I think the positive energy is a good thing to have around," Bonga said. "It's kind of easy for me because I really just like being around everybody out there."

While Bonga's words were brief, Brooks kept going... and going and going.

"The thing I love about him is his work ethic. He works every day. He doesn't come with a bad work ethic ever. I've never seen him with a bad work ethic and I've never seen him in a bad mood. The guy is always ready to play," Brooks said.

One theory for why Brooks loves Bonga so much is that he doesn't have to cater anything towards him. As he pointed out postgame, he ran zero plays for Bonga, yet he still managed 15 points. While seven of those came free throw line, many were just effort plays around the rim. 

Bonga has a knack for being in the right place at the right time because of his consistent motor. And he has decent tough around the basket, even when fighting through contact.

The Wizards' time in Orlando is all about figuring out who is worth keeping around for next year when the expectations will go up considerably once John Wall returns to a team with Bradley Beal and, the Wizards hope, Davis Bertans in the mix. So far, Bonga has stood out as much as anyone in making a case for himself.

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