Washington Wizards Mid-Season Observations


With the All-Star game approaching and no Wizards games scheduled until next Friday, this seemed like a good time to look back at some of the season’s highlights.

With 54 games in the book, the Wizards are sitting comfortably at 33-21 in the Eastern Conference, which would currently be the 5th seed in the playoffs. The last few weeks have hurt as the Wiz have lost 6 of their last 10, which included a five-game losing streak.

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Despite losing Trevor Ariza and Trevor Booker, this year’s team has fared better than last year going into the All-Star break. Last year, the Wizards entered the break at 25-27. Below are the mid-year awards for the Washington Wizards. Among the categories: MVP, Biggest Bargain, and random team observations.

MVP: The team MVP is clearly John Wall who is proving the naysayers around the league wrong (I’m looking at you Skip Bayless). Wall leads the league in assists (10.1), is tied for seventh in the league for steals (1.87), and has the fifth most double doubles (29). Wall has grown into a pure point guard constantly finding opportunities for teammates.

The way to realize the impact of an MVP is to imagine the team without that player. Without Wall, the Wizards would be lost and would definitely not be contending for the playoffs.

Biggest Bargain: When the Wizards traded their 2nd round pick in the NBA Draft, a majority of the fan base was angry and thought the team was being cheap. However, that move or non-move, however you look at it, led to the addition of Rasual Butler.

Feb 9, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards forward Rasual Butler (8) reacts after making a three point shot during the third quarter against the Orlando Magic at Verizon Center. Washington Wizards defeated Orlando Magic 96-80. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Butler signed for the veteran minimum and is making $1.4 million this season. Butler has helped replace some of Ariza’s production from last year and is averaging 8.8 points per game while shooting 42% from 3-point range. Butler has scored over 20 points on four occasions this season and has provided quality minutes coming off the bench.

Best Replacement: After having Trevor Ariza leave to go to the Rockets on a 4 year $32 million deal, the Wizards lost their second-leading scorer from last year. Paul Pierce was brought in as a much-cheaper albeit older replacement and has performed better than expected.

Pierce, 37, is in his 17th year in the league but has given almost equal production when compared to Ariza. Pierce is averaging 12.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game while playing around 27 minutes per game. Ariza, on the other hand, is averaging 12.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game while playing around 36 minutes per game. That’s a pretty even comparison despite Pierce playing around nine minutes less per game. With the addition of Butler, it is evident that the combination of Pierce and Butler is greater than Ariza, and at a cheaper combined cost.

Worst Addition: When free agency began, it was clear that big men were a priority for the Wizards. They traded for DeJuan Blair, Kris Humphries and brought back Kevin Seraphin. I was fairly excited about the addition of Blair, but thus far, that has been the worst move for the Wizards. In the limited minutes he’s gotten, Blair is average 1.8 points and 1.6 rebounds per game. That is definitely worth the 3 year-$6 million contract Blair is currently signed to.

Fragility Award: I want to start by saying that I think Brad Beal is a great shooting guard. I believe him and Wall will form one of the best, if not the best, backcourt in the NBA in the coming years.

However, I had to give out the Fragility Award to Beal who has yet to play a full season in his three years in the league. In his first year, Beal’s season was ended due to a stress injury in his right leg. He had also missed games that season due to injuries to his left ankle, right wrist, and a sore back.

This year, Beal missed the first nine games of the season due to having surgery on his left wrist. Beal has been out the last few games with a stress injury in his right leg. Beal also dealt with a stress injury in his leg last season. Beal will have a good amount of time to rest with the All-Star break. Beal is only 21 years old and has a long career ahead of him. He’s averaging 16.2 points per game and his return will definitely help the team come playoff time.

Best Game: The best game of the season had to be the 101-93 home win over the San Antonio Spurs on January 13th, 2015. It was the first time John Wall has beaten the Spurs and the first time the Wizards have gotten a win against the storied franchise since 2005.

Jan 13, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3) shoots a jumpshot as San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills (8) and forward Jeff Ayres (11) look on during the second half at Verizon Center. The Wizards won 101-93. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Prior to this victory, the Wizards had lost 17 straight to the Spurs. John Wall had 25 points and 8 assists, while Kevin Seraphin had one of his best performances of the season adding 17 points and 8 rebounds.

Another reason why this game was the best game of the season was because it came right after a 31-point blowout loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

Worst Game: The worst game of the season preceded the best game of the season and was the 120-89 loss at the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks absolutely destroyed the Wizards and left no question who the best team in the Eastern Conference is. The Wizards allowed 16 3-pointers as the Hawks hit 51% of their shots from beyond the arc. The Wizards had a -11 turnover ratio with Wall leading the team with 8 turnovers. Wall’s number of turnovers matched his number of assists for the night, never a sign of a successful game.

Biggest Problem: The biggest problem the Wizards have had all season is losing to the top-tier teams in the league. The Wizards have lost three times against both the Raptors and the Hawks. The Wizards are only 10-15 against teams that are .500 or better on the season. The team will have to improve in this facet if they want to make another deep run in the playoffs.

Home Sweet Home: The one area where the Wizards have had major success is in home games. The Wizards currently have the 2nd best home winning percentage in the Eastern Conference. The team is currently 20-8 at home and has only two less home wins than all of last season. The team has improved its attendance from last year and is currently ranked 9th in attendance. Last year, the team was ranked 18th in attendance.

Next: Revisiting the Mike Green Situation in Washington