After five games, this season is not only looking a lot like last year. It's sounding like it, too.
After a bad loss against the Kings, John Wall and Bradley Beal questioned the commitment of their teammates to the collective goals of the team. All of it sounded very familiar.
It was after they lost a winnable game to a less-talented opponent. That happened many times last season. And, quite often, Wall and Beal explained the problem as guys focusing too much on themselves and their own individual stats.
One year later, it's happening again.
"Everyone has their own agenda," Wall said (see video above). "We've got guys that are worrying about not getting shots and where the ball is going on the offensive end. We shouldn't worry about that. No matter if you're missing or making shots, you gotta be able to compete on the other end. If you can't do it on both ends of the floor, then you don't need to be playing."
"We suck right now," Beal added. "I feel like sometimes we have our own agendas on the floor. We complain about shots or complain about playing time; whatever it may be. We're worried about the wrong s***."
Last year, when Wall and Beal said these things, there were many assumed culprits. But year-over-year changes to the roster allow for some deductive reasoning.
Marcin Gortat is gone. So are bench players like Jodie Meeks, Mike Scott and Tim Frazier.
The main holdovers, excluding Wall and Beal, are Otto Porter Jr., Markieff Morris, Kelly Oubre Jr., Ian Mahinmi and Tomas Satoransky. Certainly they could be referring to new additions like Austin Rivers or Jeff Green, but if Wall and Beal are saying many of the same things they said last year, it likely comes down to a combination of those aforementioned names.
On Friday night, Porter certainly stood out on the box score. He played only 21 minutes and scored five points on six shots. For what seems like years now there has been a narrative that Porter needs to get more shots.
Whether Porter expressed that himself or not, the team seems tired of talking about his shot totals. Wall even said as much last week, remarking "this is the last time I will talk about Otto Porter shooting threes."
Porter had a dreadful game against the Kings, no matter how you spin it. Usually, he can help out in other ways like rebounding or on defense. But on Friday, head coach Scott Brooks opted to play Oubre instead of Porter for much of the second half.
Morris is praised by his coach and teammates for not complaining about his share of shots. Unless those are empty platitudes, it has to be something else for him. If they are referring to Morris, it could be his costly turnover in the closing seconds, or the fact his frontcourt counterparts had huge nights offensively. It could be about his defense and rebounding.
Power forward Nemanja Bjelica had 26 points and 12 rebounds and center Willie Cauley-Stein had 17 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. Morris and others did little to stop them.
Oubre had a strong game offensively, but made key errors on the other end. He had a bad turnover himself with 5:19 left in the fourth quarter.
Satoransky only played 11 minutes and took two shots. Mahinmi seems unlikely because getting shots isn't really his thing.
Wall and Beal may even own up to some of their criticism themselves, as they have done so in the past. But the real question is how they can stop all of it, knowing the problem just won't go away.
Wall said they have tried very recently to hash it out as a group. It's just not working.
"[During team meetings] everybody is just listening. It's either me, Brad, Jeff [Green] or one of the veteran guys. They just kind of listen. It's like, when are you going to put it all together? We talk about it like every game so far. It's a veteran team and it's like we go back to the same thing," he said.
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