The Washington Wizards must have found some magic because they’ve been on a tear of late. Winners of seven of their last eight games, the once left-for-dead Wizards have turned things around after they stumbled coming out of the All-Star break. Washington lost their first five games and went 3-12 before this streak.
The Wizards Change Of Fortune Is No Magic Act
Everyone knows Bradley Beal is one of the best scorers in the NBA. Up until Stephen Curry dropped 40-plus in back-to-back games, Beal led the NBA in scoring.
It would be the second year in a row Beal finishes in the top two in scoring in the Association. Beal also missed the one game Washington lost in the aforementioned streak.
He averaged 27.4 PPG post-break but has averaged 29.7 points during the Wizards run. He also hasn’t done it all by himself.
Russell Westbrook might need to have an award created just for him to signify all the times he’s been written off in recent years. And while his numbers are certainly down on the year, his impact has not been.
Sitting on a 21.8/10.9/10.9 line, Westbrook is putting up 23.5/12.3/12.3 since the break has been at 21./13.5/13.1 during the recent string of wins. The most encouraging development might be his improved efficiency from deep.
He’s shooting better than 30 percent from beyond the arc on the season and 33 percent since the deadline. It’s a modest percentage but it’s a massive step up for Westbrook.
The “Other” Guys
Davis Bertans was a hot commodity on a watered-down free-agent market in an abbreviated offseason. He re-signed with the Wizards on a five-year deal after recording the best deep-shooting advanced metrics in the NBA.
The honeymoon didn’t last long though as Bertans averaged just over 11 points while shooting under 39 percent from outside.
Bertans, just like Beal and Westbrook, has been much better over his last seven games. He’s averaging 14.7 points and shooting 50 percent from beyond the arc.
On the less glamorous end, Daniel Gafford is providing a very nice return on Washington’s investment. Since joining the Wiz, the former Chicago Bulls big man is averaging 11.4 PPG and 5.8 RPG; both up substantially from his time in Chicago and mostly thanks to more playing time.
But it’s his 2.0 blocks per game that have caught the most eyes.
That’s because, as the Bulls have struggled with their rim protection even with Gafford in the fold, he’s been rejecting some of the game’s most notable dunkers in DC. It’s a testament to his work ethic to turn what could be damaging to a young player into an opportunity.
Wizards Re-Discovered Magic Spellbook
Washington is currently 11th in the East, just outside of the play-in tournament. But they have one of the easiest remaining schedules, per Tankathon.com, and have six games remaining against four Eastern Conference opponents that are set to make the playoffs themselves.
This is the perfect situation for the Wizards to take advantage of and the best time for the Wizards to re-discover their magic. How long can they keep this up?