What is one of the most pressing questions for the new-look Washington Wizards was not answered on Wednesday night in their 108-100 season-opening loss to the Dallas Mavericks. We know Bradley Beal can both score and create his own shot, but who is the second scoring option with John Wall out long-term due to injury?
The Wizards have athleticism, they have outside shooters, they have speed; there are some elements that could collectively create a decent NBA offense. But the drop-off from Beal in the shot creation department is significant and it's one of the reasons why they lost a game in which they trailed by as many as 23.
Thomas Bryant and Rui Hachimura each had 14 points, second only to Beal's team-high 19, but they were mostly on plays set up by others. And Bryant only attempted nine shots. He is one of the best players in the NBA at shot selection, as he set a franchise record last season for effective field goal percentage, but on this revamped Wizards roster he has to be more involved and more aggressive looking for his shots, even if they aren't perfect opportunities.
The lack of offensive help for Beal manifested itself in two ways for the Wizards. One is that he struggled to counter a Mavericks defense that overloaded on him. He shot just 7-for-25 (28%) from the field and 1-for-11 (9.1%) from three. It was the fewest made threes for Beal in his career in games with at least 10 attempts.
The other way the lack of a second scoring option translated was in turnovers. The Wizards had 17, including six in the first quarter alone.
Granted, Dallas is a good defensive team. They were above average last season, ranking 13th in points allowed, and that was without Kristaps Porzingis who now adds over two blocks per game on average to the mix.
But some of the numbers the Mavs forced from the Wizards were just plain ugly. Washington shot 11-for-41 (26.8%) from three, the second-fewest makes in franchise history on at least 40 attempts. They weren't much better from the field, either, shooting just 39.8 percent overall.
It is not easy to win while shooting under 40 percent. For some context, they went 10-22 last season when they fell under the 40-mark.
The Wizards, to be fair, are dealing with a litany of injuries even beyond Wall's extended absence. They could have used C.J. Miles, Isaiah Thomas and Troy Brown Jr. in this one. WIth them available, guys like rookie Admiral Schofield, who had zero points in 16 minutes, would be lower on the depth chart.
Thomas, in particular, could help tremendously as he has traditionally been able to both score and create for others. But he played on 12 games last season and hasn't been a very productive player for two years now. It's hard to count on him being the savior until he comes out and proves he can make a significant impact.
Regardless, there will be better days for the Wizards' offense. They want to shoot lots of threes and will probably have plenty of nights where they get hot from long range.
Guys will also come back from injuries and help the cause. And Beal is so good that on many nights, he will be able to get his points no matter who they are playing.
But they will also play some defenses that are much better than the Mavs. Someone is going to have to step up and take some pressure off Beal, one way or another.
MORE WIZARDS NEWS: