7 Ways to Improve the Struggling Washington Wizards
The Washington Wizards have started 0-9 this season, and many are wondering what they need to do to turn their season around.
Yes, the Wizards are not at full strength and that plays a big part into their problems.
Their poor record, however, stems from a variety of problems that must be solved if they are going to turn their season around in the near future.
Bring Back a Healthy John Wall
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John Wall’s importance to this team could not be more obvious at the present moment.
Wall, the first overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, has been sidelined with a knee injury to begin this season.
The Wizards have seemed out of sorts without their lightning fast point guard at the helm.
When Wall returns, he will bring with him an explosive scoring drive that accounted for 16.7 points and eight assists per game last season.
Wall will form a deadly duo with Bradley Beal. Both players complement each other very well. Teams will have to collapse on the driving Wall, but they will also have to play out to the perimeter with three-point gunner Beal on the court.
Wall will drive this offense and will set the Wizards back on track when he is healthy.
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Nenê was one of Washington’s big offseason acquisitions this year, but a foot injury has kept him from seeing any action this season.
He is expected to return soon, and the Wizards could turn a lot of their problems around by integrating him well into their starting five.
The Wizards' main problem is simple. They have been giving up 94.6 points on average this season, which exceeds how many points they have been scoring on average, which is 86.9.
Nenê can help in this category. Last season, he averaged 13.7 points per game for the Nuggets.
The Wizards desperately need a post scorer.
Emeke Okafor, a defensive player at heart, has only averaged 7.6 points per game this season.
When Nenê returns, he and Okafor will form a great tandem that is strong both offensively and defensively.
Sustain Success over the Entire Game
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Washington has seen moments of good play this season. The pieces seem to be there.
Besides the hole left at point guard by Wall, the team has managed fairly well this season.
The problem is that you have to control the game to win in the NBA—not just manage to get by.
Jordan Crawford put it best when he said, “We're a team that plays in spurts, instead of the great teams that play 48 minutes."
This team has been in games late and will begin to win some games if it can sustain its reasonably good play until the final whistle.
Be Patient with Bradley Beal
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Bradley Beal has had his ups and downs to begin his NBA career.
Speculation that he would live up to the expectation of being the next Ray Allen in his first season of professional basketball was absurd.
Beal, however, has had moments of greatness this season.
He is averaging 11.7 points per game. Most importantly, Beal is living up to his reputation as a three-point shooter by averaging 35.9 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
The Wizards are nowhere near ready for a playoff run, and that is why this is the perfect time to develop their very promising group of young talent, headlined by Beal.
Imagine how much more experienced and more deadly Beal will be when John Wall returns to relieve some of the scoring pressure from him.
If the Wizards can continue to be patient with Beal, he will reward them with wins not too far down the road.
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To win games this season, the Wizards need to find a way to score more buckets.
The Wizards rank dead last in the NBA in scoring with only 86.9 points per game. That is at the level of a college basketball team.
To be fair, the Wizards do not need to score too much more. They simply need to average more points for than against.
Currently, the Wizards give up 94.6 points per game. If the Wizards can find seven more points then they are bound to break even.
This will likely become easier when players such as Nenê and John Wall return from injury.
Until then, a player such as Jordan Crawford, who currently leads the team in points per game with just 12.6, or Bradley Beal, a rookie who is still learning the ways of pro basketball, must step up and get this team the points it needs to win ball games.
Take Better Shots
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Washington ranks dead last in the NBA in field-goal percentage. The Wizards have shot a miserable 40.1 percent from the field.
Washington, a team that featured a more run-and-gun break behind John Wall last season, has become more stagnant this season.
The team lacks an identity because, for the most part, the team is entirely new.
Trevor Booker and Jordan Crawford are the only two contributors on this year’s team that saw significant playing time for the Wizards a season ago.
The result has been a nasty inability to establish an offensive identity, and players have been putting up the wrong shots as a result.
As the team begins to form a better cohesion, these poor shot choices should diminish as players understand their roles better.
Plan for the Future
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After a dreadful 0-9 start, the Wizards can pretty much say goodbye to their playoff hopes.
The Wizards have several pieces that speak to a bright future, though.
John Wall is a proven NBA commodity. Bradley Beal should develop into Washington’s everyday two-guard.
The Wizards, however, are not without their flaws when it comes to selecting future talent in the draft.
Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton have not lived up to expectations.
Vesely has been disappointing in particular since he was picked sixth in the 2011 NBA Draft, ahead of players with considerably more talent such as Brandon Knight, Kemba Walker, Klay Thompson, Kenneth Faried, Kawhi Leonard and Chandler Parsons.
The Wizards must avoid another mistake of this magnitude if they are to continue to build towards the future.
If the Wizards could pick up one or two more solid young players, they will be well on their way to building from the ground up just as Oklahoma City did.