City Sports Report

The Washington Wizards Are Fading Fast

Can Gortat and John Wall get Washington going again? (photo via www.gannett-cdn.com)

At the beginning of the season, the Washington Wizards were a team to look out for. They had two veteran big men in Marcin Gortat and NeNe that could affect the game in many aspects along with who some thought to be the best backcourt in the NBA in John Wall and Bradley Beal. With the addition of veteran forward Paul Pierce, many thought the Wizards could be major players in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. At the beginning of the season, the Wizards were making it happen and John Wall was playing outstanding basketball. But recently, it seems like the Wizards have hit a bump in the road. Washington has lost their last five games and eight of their last ten as they have stumbled out of the blocks from the All-Star break. This funk has hit the Wizards at the wrong time of the season and they could end up finding themselves freefalling in the standings in the Eastern Conference. So what seems to be going wrong with the Wizards to cause this funk?

One big piece that has been missing for parts of this season is shooting guard Bradley Beal. The third-year guard from Florida can be very explosive and can catch fire as well at times. But this season has seen him catch the injury bug yet again. It just seems like he can never stay healthy for a long stretch of time. Even though he is scoring two points less than he did last season, he is still a threat everytime he is on the court. Unfortunately, there isn’t anyone that can replace his numbers on the roster while he heals. The Wizards have tried Otto Porter and Garrett Temple at that spot recently and neither have seemed to give them what they need from that spot on a consistent level. The more time Beal misses, the more uneven the Wizards offense will continue to look. And with that being said, that could mean more pressure on John Wall to make happen. Wall is not having a bad season at all, but he needs his sidekick bad in the worst way.

Beal may be struggling with injury, but there is no doubt that Paul Pierce is struggling with age at this point. Pierce was brought in from Brooklyn last season to give this team mental toughness along with championship experience. And along the ride this season, he has had some big moments. But he is also a player that has become a defensive liability. The veteran small forward used to be able to guard his position as well as give you consistent offense. He is not depended on to score as much offensively for the Wizards, but the Wizards probably thought they were getting a better defender than what they have gotten so far. Pierce clearly has lost a step on the defensive end and it’s not even a debate. And when a perimeter player loses a step, it can compromise the defense of a team. If this was the Brooklyn Nets last season, you could put Pierce back at the power forward position for a mismatch. But since the Nets have NeNe and Marcin Gortat, there really is no room for him to play that position with them. This late in his career and season, Piece will not be gaining back any speed as Father Time always wins. But the one thing the Wizards could do is figure out how to use him without hurting you defensively.

But one of the absolute biggest issues for this team is the inconsistency of Marcin Gortat and NeNe this season. The Wizards are at their best when these two forces are playing physical and with extreme effort. It seems that this season both cannot show up for the same game at the same time. The once strong chemistry looks to only be a fragment of their imagination. And as a result, the Wizards have been struggling at times to even provide a basket inside. For the Wizards to make it, these two big men have to play special. When they do, they can make some noise in the East and they make the Wizards very special. When they don’t show up, both can cause this team to have what happened on Wednesday night, a 20-point blowout versus the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves. Gortat has to crash the boards, block shots and finish around the rim like he did last season. NeNe has to finish inside and be a better defender inside. If that happens, then that can alleviate some of the pressure on the perimeter players of this team.

The Wizards have the pieces to cause some issues in the East. They have the big men that can be good on both ends of the court and they have some guard play that can be amongst the best in the NBA when healthy. But all the potential of this team will all go for naught if they don’t come together as a team. There is no way they can fully cover up for the slowness of Pierce, but with the big men they have, they could assist in helping Pierce out. This team has to find itself amidst the trouble they have had. If they find that formula that they had to start the season, they can get back on track. But if they don’t find that magic they had from the beginning of the season, then that train they are riding on will never get back on the track. The choice is there for the Wizards and the Wizards could be a factor perhaps. It’s up to Washington whether they want to make that move or not.

For more sports talk, feel free to follow me on Twitter @General_MP or check me out on Facebook at Mike Patton-The General .

One Comment

  1. Lee Love

    March 1, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    Injury and age has taken a toll and I agree Wall nexts someone along side that can put up points.

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