If your memory of what has happened during the 2019-20 Wizards season so far is foggy, you deserve a pass. They last played months ago and some pretty serious and important stuff has happened in the world since.
But now that the NBA is on its way back according to reports, it wouldn't hurt to brush up on the Wizards, who stand 24-40 on the year after 64 games. With that in mind, here are some storylines surrounding the team that remain worth watching when the games are back...
Beal was playing really, really well
In hindsight, the only thing that could stop Bradley Beal this season was the league shutting down. Because before everything was put on hold, he was tearing up the NBA like a guy with an axe to grind, as if he had recently been a historic All-Star snub or something.
Beal was absolutely dominating before the games stopped. In 10 games from Feb. 23 to March 10, he averaged an absurd 37.5 points and 6.1 assists while shooting 48.1 percent from three on 10.8 attempts.
The scoring itself went back further than that. He has averaged 35.5 points per game since Jan. 20 and during that stretch raised his season clip from 27.2 all the way to 30.5, good for second in the league.
Lots to play for
Thanks to a top-heavy Eastern Conference, the Wizards had played themselves into a sort of boom-or-bust spot when it comes to their draft lottery odds. They are ninth in the East, but also ninth from the bottom of the NBA.
The details of the NBA's lottery odds have been released and the Wizards have a lot to gain or lose in terms of ping-pong balls. They can be as high as ninth in lottery odds, or pick no better than 15th if they make the playoffs. What they can't do is help their lottery cause, as the odds will be based on the standings from March 11. So, in a way, the Wizards could be hurt by the new format.
Defense was getting better
The Wizards are 16 games under .500 in large part due to their defense, which for much of the season has been terrible. But, to their credit, the tide appeared to be turning before the season was paused. After ranking last in the NBA with a 116.3 defensive rating before the trade deadline, they placed 11th in the league with a 110.8 defensive rating after that. They went 7-8 during that stretch.
That is a sample size of 15 games, or about five weeks, so a legitimate trend. And there seemed to be a clear correlation, that after they traded Isaiah Thomas they got better as a group.
Now, ranking 11th in the NBA in defense is probably unsustainable. Trading Thomas didn't land them a rim protector or a gritty wing defender. But they have shown progress and will hope to build on it when they return to the court.
Bertans is on pace for threes record
One of the best developments of this season for the Wizards was the emergence of Davis Bertans, whom they basically acquired for nothing in a trade last summer. He is enjoying a breakout season, one that has him now considered among the very best three-point shooters in the NBA.
Bertans, in fact, still has a chance to break the Wizards/Bullets franchise record for threes in a single season. He's only played in 54 games and now only eight remain, yet amazingly he only needs 24 more threes to set the mark. That means three per game and he averages 3.7 for the season.
The current record is Beal's, as he made 223 in the 2016-17 season. With 200 already, Bertans may beat Beal's record in only 62 games played.
Inexperience has shown
Another reason why the Wizards are where they are in the standings is their lack of experience. They have a lot of young players logging heavy minutes as they learn the ropes in the NBA.
The inexperience has shown up in a few ways, one of them being their home and away records. The Wizards are a solid 16-16 at home, yet a hideous 8-24 on the road. Keep that in mind as they travel to Orlando, FL to play away from D.C., albeit at a neutral site.
The Wizards also have a 6-18 record against teams with .500 records or better. And that is something else to consider as they play an adjusted schedule in which the bad teams have been removed by way of the NBA's 22-team cut-off.
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