For an ailing team, faith in the future can do wonders.
Fans of the Washington Wizards are faithful that their dynamic duo of John Wall and rookie wing Bradley Beal will finally get things on the right track. With only 13 wins on the season the Wizards are clearly a team in disarray, but the potential for an emerging combo like Wall and Beal is at least a step in the right direction.
Injuries have been an unfortunate trend all season for the Wizards—as a result, this is a team that is still trying to figure out chemistry and build a solid rotation. That being said, how has the energy been between Wall and Beal? Let's examine how they played together in their first couple of games. They'll be graded based on efficiency, big plays and whether they pulled off the win or not.
Washington Wizards versus Atlanta Hawks
In an abysmal season with few games of significance, this certainly was a moral "test" of sorts. John Wall made his season debut and fans finally got to see how he'd play on the court with Beal. The Wizards got the W, but it was more a result of collective effort than Beal and Wall by themselves.
Beal shot 6-16 to notch 16 points, four boards and two assists, all while playing 40 minutes. Wall wasn't outstanding either but he certainly looked solid for someone still not 100 percent in basketball shape. While he looked a little rusty at some points, there were glimpses of chemistry—especially between Wall and Beal. Wall had 14 points and four assists, but two of his dimes were to the rook.
Wall connected with Beal in transition for a dunk, and also hit him with a pinpoint crosscourt pass to give him a wide open three-ball. Wall was shaking off rust, and Beal overshot a bit, but they still looked fairly in sync with one another. Wall was still efficient enough to not be a burden, and what matters most is the Wiz got the win, 93-83.
Wall-Beal Combo Grade: C+
Washington Wizards versus Orlando Magic
Coming off their solid win against the ATL, the Wiz would host the similarly-struggling Magic to try and keep their momentum going, and they did indeed. Just like they did in the Hawks game, they just looked solid all-around. This is a team that is prone to playing too much iso basketball, but when they do stay on the same page they have proven to look solid.
Aside from the collective unit looking good, Wall and Beal proved to be extremely efficient—especially Bradley Beal who was 70 percent from the field to notch 17 points. Wall came off the bench in this one just like the previous effort, and he was fairly efficient. One missed shot from 50 percent, but he did make some big plays—multiple times he broke down defenders and made plays, and he also had some nice transition buckets. Wall finished the game with a solid 14 point four assist game off the bench still trying to get back into playing shape.
Beal was incredibly lethal with his smooth stroke and Wall had a nasty cross-over on Ish Smith along with a few beautiful plays in just his second game returning from his knee injury. They had a fairly solid outing together, and most importantly, they blew out the competition 120-91.
Wall-Beal Combo Grade: B+
Washington Wizards at Sacramento Kings
"Good job, good effort!"
That's really all you could say after this contest. Brutal, brutal finish for the Wiz as John Wall clanked two crucial free throws within the final minute en route to a one-point, 95-94 road loss to the Kings. Now, from a purely statistical standpoint (not counting Wall's field goal percentage, of course), the Wall-Beal combo looked pretty good.
Beal was 9-14 and he hit some big shots to score a highly efficient 26 points with six dimes to go with them. Wall contributed a 14 point 10 assist double-double with three steals, but those bricks from the stripe really make his numbers seem a bit hollow. He did shoot a mediocre 6-15 from the field as well, so that just throws a bit more dirt on this forgettable game for Wall.
Great numbers from Beal, frustrating game for Wall, but the Wizards did give it their all until the buzzer sounded. Had they edged the win, they would've earned a more favorable grade, but Wall failed to execute when it mattered most.
Wall-Beal Combo Grade: B
Washington Wizards at Denver Nuggets
After their disappointing loss to Sacramento previously, the Wiz certainly wanted to make up for it. Their next challenge called for them taking on the Nugs in the Mile High City, and that would be no easy task. The Wizards would end up winning a game that would be only one of three games all season that the Nuggets have lost at home, and it was due in large part to Wall and Beal.
Beal continued his stretch of nice shooting with a solid 23 points and four assists on 8-13 shooting. Wall looked extremely dynamic notching a 14 point 12 assist double-double, but he unfortunately committed six turnovers. Aside from the sub 50-percent shooting and six turnovers, Wall still made some nice plays, and the Wizards came in as double-digit road dogs and pull off the upset 112-108. It couldn't have been done without their dynamic youthful duo.
Wall-Beal Combo Grade: A
Washington Wizards at Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers are a great squad, and after that great win at Denver it would appear that another tough road opponent would prove to be too much for the beleaguered Wizards.
Well, it did.
The Wiz were felled by a margin of seven points in their 94-87 loss to the Clips as road dogs. Looking closer, the tandem of Wall and Beal was a bit trigger happy. They just flat out forced some looks, and at times they just couldn't finish plays when they had to. Beal finished with 13 points on 5-11 shooting, not horrible, but not great.
Wall was very aggressive—which was encouraging to see—but he too wasn't great from the field. He shot 7-16, but he did get to the stripe 14 times, and he finished with 26 points and six assists. His aggressiveness is admirable, but at times they relegated into one-and-done possessions that ended with forced shots. The Wiz had a valiant fourth quarter but it wasn't enough to defeat the Clippers, who are a formidable opponent at home with their 20-5 home record.
Beal and Wall were a little out of control, but they did what they could against a tough opponent.
Wall-Beal Combo Grade: C+
Overall, Wall and Beal have shown enough potential in their first handful of games to demonstrate that the Wizards might have found a combination that works. Beal still has a ways to go, and Wall will still have to refine his role as a floor general, but they certainly have a solid enough chemistry to build on something. Aside from their road bumps together, there's nothing stopping a Wall-Beal tandem from developing into a serious threat once they make the necessary adjustments to their game; assuming the Wiz acquire more talent, of course.