For the Washington Wizards, last season’s struggles came down to the team’s inability to defend. Washington allowed 119.1 points per game, which was 29th in the NBA. In addition, the team was 29th in opponents’ field goal percentage(48.8).
It isn’t easy to win in the NBA if you’re not defending, and Washington has to improve on that end of the court if they want to have success this season.
Conversely, on the offensive side of the court, Washington was one of the top-scoring teams in the league. In the 2019-20 season, the Wizards averaged 114.7 points a contest, which was 7th in the NBA.
Now, Washington will have more firepower with the addition of nine-time All-Star and former league MVP Russell Westbrook. You add that to what you got out of Bradley Beal last season, who was second in the NBA in points per game(30.5). Plus, they have arguably their best shooter back in Davis Bertans, who signed a five-year, $80 million contract this offseason, and was the team’s second-leading scorer last season(15.4 ppg).
With Westbrook and Beal, Bertans expects to get easier looks, and he expects the team to be tough to stop this season.
“I think it’s just going to be easier for everybody in a sense,” Bertans said on Wednesday. “There’s a lot of defensive attention toward Brad(Beal), and now having Russ(Westbrook), too. We got, I think, more shooters. Everybody improved in the summer. You can see that Rui(Hachimura) is making threes. Deni(Avidja) is a pretty good shooter, so I think, in that case, it’s going to be a lot easier for Brad and Russ to attack the rim, and the defense has to pay more attention to them, and everybody else going to be open around the perimeter. So, I think the team is built, offensively, pretty great.”
However, according to Bertans, Washington has to play better defense if they want to have a productive season.
“It’s going to be more on what we going to do on the defensive end,” Bertans said. “How we’re going to talk on defense. How hard we’re going to play on defense. That’s going to be the main differential on whether we’re going to win games or lose games.”
Defense wins championships, and Washington has to be committed to defending this season if they want to make the playoffs and contend in the Eastern Conference, which means the back end of the defense has to be better, especially C Thomas Bryant, who will be called on to anchor the defense. Adding a defensive center in Robin Lopez should help, but time will tell if it will be enough for Washington to improve on the defensive end next season.
When the NBA returns in late July, the Washington Wizards will be without one of their best shooters and could be without their best player. Davis Bertans, who can become a free agent at the end of the season, has decided not to play when the NBA restarts in Orlando, and at this point, Bradley Beal is unsure if he is going to play.
“I am still working my tail off every single day as if I am playing,” Beal said via a video call with the media on Wednesday. “It is more or less a decision that will come down to the medical staff and coming back from zero to 100, and then I have some nagging stuff from the end of the year that we are trying to clean up, too. We are looking at it from all angles. I am definitely working out every single day here. It is good to be back in the facility.
“I am not swayed one way or another.”
Beal also revealed that he talked to Bertans before the third-year player made the decision to opt out public.
“I didn’t feel any type of way about Bertans’ decision,” Beal said. “He actually contacted me before he officially announced it… He explained it and just seeing where he comes from, seeing his situation, and understanding what’s at stake for him and his future. I 100 percent understand it.”
The 27-year-old Bertans, who in 54 games averaged 15.4 ppg this season, has an opportunity to make a lot of money in free agency. He has the size(6-10) and is a knockdown three-point shooter(42% from three-point land), so his decision to skip Orlando is understandable.
Currently, the Wizards(9th seed) are 5 1/2 games behind the Orlando Magic for the 8th and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. If the team with the eighth-best combined winning percentage in a conference (Currently, the Orlando Magic) is four games or fewer ahead of the team with the ninth-best combined winning percentage in the same conference, then those two teams would compete in a play-in tournament to determine the eighth playoff seed in the conference. The play-in tournament will be double elimination for Team 8 and single elimination for Team 9.
Therefore, Washington must make up some ground if they want to compete in the play-in tournament.
It was a tall order for the Wizards to make the playoffs with Beal and Bertans. However, it’s probably impossible for Washington to qualify for the playoffs without them.
With Beal(30.5 ppg), who is having a big-time year, they have a fighters’ chance. It should be interesting to see what Beal decides, but if Washington wants to make a run at the playoffs, they need Beal out there in Orlando.
The San Antonio Spurs today announced that they have acquired forward DeMarre Carroll from the Brooklyn Nets. In the three-team deal, San Antonio sends forward Davis Bertans to Washington and the draft rights to Nemanja Dangubic to Brooklyn, while the Wizards send the draft rights to Aaron White to the Nets.
Carroll, 32, played in 67 games for the Nets last season, averaging 11.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 25.4 minutes. The Birmingham, Alabama native recorded 12.3 points and 5.9 boards in 140 appearances during his two-year stint in Brooklyn from 2017-19.
A 10-year veteran in the NBA, Carroll holds career averages of 9.1 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 24.2 minutes while shooting .430 from the field and .360 from beyond the arc in 554 games. His teams have reached the playoffs in five of the last six seasons, with Carroll logging 62 games of playoff experience. He has career averages of 9.1 points, 4.4 boards and 1.1 assists in 28.2 minutes in the postseason.
Prior to his time in Brooklyn, Carroll spent two years each with the Toronto Raptors (2015-17) and Atlanta Hawks (2013-15). The former Missouri Tiger also spent time with the Houston Rockets, Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz after being drafted in the first round of the 2009 NBA Draft by the Memphis Grizzlies (27th overall), where he spent parts of his first two seasons.
Bertans spent his first three seasons in San Antonio, averaging 6.2 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.0 assist in 16.0 minutes over 220 career games with the Silver and Black.
The San Antonio Spurs today announced that forward Davis Bertans has entered the NBA’s Concussion Protocol.
Bertans will not play in tomorrow’s Spurs-Warriors game and the team will provide updates on his return to the court as appropriate.
Bertans is averaging 6.0 ppg in 10 games with the Spurs this season.