The last six games for the Washington Wizards well encapsulate their inconsistency this season shooting from three. Three times in the last six games they have made at least 16 threes, shooting 40% or above. In the other three games they made fewer than 10 threes and in two of those games shot below 25%.
The Wizards' inability to make threes at a consistent clip has been a season-long issue for them, and also somewhat of a confusing one. They have plenty of players on their roster with proven track records of at least being decent three-point shooters and some have a history of being elite.
Monday's win over the Charlotte Hornets was a glimpse at what it looks like when they shoot to their full potential. The Wizards made 16 threes at a 42.1% clip. Leading the way were Kyle Kuzma with six threes and Davis Bertans who had four. Bradley Beal added three triples while Corey Kispert, who was drafted in the first round over the summer for his shooting, made two.
The Wizards made seven of their 16 threes in the fourth quarter, going 7-for-10, as they blitzed the Hornets with 40 points and ran away with the win.
"Finally," Kuzma said of the Wizards getting hot from three.
The Wizards are last in the NBA in threes made per game (10.2), 28th in attempts (31.1/g) and 26th in percentage (32.7). Beal and Bertans are among those who have shot well below their career norms.
When Beal was asked by a particularly cool and good-looking reporter after Monday's game about that being a general trend for the Wizards, he made a self-aware joke about all of it.
"Damn, Chase, just say you’re talking to me," Beal cracked.
Beal thought the difference on Monday was the Wizards shooting with confidence, while also finding high-percentage shots for high-percentage shooters. It sounds simple, but it worked against the Hornets.
"Tonight it’s probably a testament to who we can be, but we can obviously be better, for sure," Beal said.
Part of the Wizards' problem has been their execution when they do create open shots. According to NBA tracking data, they shoot just 35.5% on wide open threes (closest defender is 6+ feet away), which ranks 26th in the NBA.
The emergence of Kispert is one element that could help the Wizards have more nights like they did on Monday. Though he is only a rookie, his track record in college suggests he could raise the ceiling of the Wizards overall when it comes to three-point shooting.
Lately, he has been growing far more comfortable shooting from the outside. Over his last 10 games, Kispert is shooting 40.5% from three on 3.7 attempts per game.
"It’s another uptick in his growth. It’s a good sign that he’s shown a level of consistency with his play," head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said.
If Kispert's exceptional shooting can continue to translate from the college level, the Wizards could have a true long range weapon added into the mix. That, in addition to Beal, Bertans and others finding their level, could collectively lift the team out of the NBA's three-point shooting basement.
Bertans is also heating up. Over his last 10 games, he's shooting 45.3% from deep on 5.3 attempts per game.
The consistency hasn't been there for the team, but there are some signs their shooters are heating up individually.
"We’ve had so many games this year where if we could just shoot league average, you’re handling teams," Kuzma said. "That’s been a part of some of our struggles this year and we’re aware of it... If we could just hit some threes, we’ll be alright."