Wizards: The Good And Bad From First Half Of Season

Jan 25, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) dribbles as Boston Celtics forward Jae Crowder (99) looks on during the first half at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 25, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) dribbles as Boston Celtics forward Jae Crowder (99) looks on during the first half at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports /

The Washington Wizards have had an interesting first half of the season, so what was the good and the bad?

It’s sometimes difficult to analyze a team that’s suffered so many injuries to so many guys. For instance, one may be hesitant to criticize a team’s struggles if that team has had key players missing significant time. But at the same time, it doesn’t feel right to dismiss a team’s problems simply because some players are sitting.

Nonetheless, the first half of the Washington Wizards’ season can be described more in depth that just citing the injuries the team has faced. There has been some good, and there has been some bad.

The Good

  1. John Wall: Wall has been absolutely magnificent so far this season. In fact, I’m not sure what’s more shocking; how good Wall has been despite the Wizards being so bad, or how bad the Wizards have been despite Wall being so good. Regardless, he’s having an All-Star caliber season. According to Basketball-Reference, if Wall keeps up the pace he’s currently on, he’ll be only the ninth player in NBA history to average at least 19 points, nine assists, four rebounds, and two steals in a season, joining the likes of big names like Magic Johnson, Chris Paul, and Russell Westbrook. He’s had the weight of the entire team on his shoulders for the majority of the season, and isn’t showing signs of slowing down.
  2. Running The Fast Break: The Wizards have quietly been one of the top teams in the league in scoring in transition, currently tied with the Warriors for the top spot in percentage of points scored in the fast break at 18.1, per NBA.com. Washington has a lot of athleticism in their backcourt, and with Wall leading the break, and Bradley Beal getting back into the groove of things, that should continue. Otto Porter and Ramon Sessions have been great at running with Wall in transition so far.
  3. Moving The Ball: Wall has been masterful in setting up his teammates this season, and it’s leading to some impressive assist numbers for the Wizards. Washington is currently third in assist percentage, per NBA.com, and they’re doing it while still taking care of the ball. They’re seventh in assist to turnover ratio, at 1.63.

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All things considered, the Wizards have been doing many things well. Those, to me, were the main positive takeaways from the first half of the season, and the things the Wizards need to continue doing. Here are some areas I think they need to improve on.

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The Bad

  1. Rebounding: The Wizards, perhaps for reasons beyond their control, have not been a very good rebounding team this season. They’re currently in the bottom four in rebounding percentage, per NBA.com, and need to start getting bodies on guys. Nene has helped when he’s been in, and Marcin Gortat has done his job, pulling down 9.9 rebounds per game, but they need help.
  2. Playing at Home: The Wizards have a pretty disappointing 10-13 home record this season, after being great at the Verizon Center a season ago (29-12, tied for ninth-best in the NBA). Improving their play in front of the home crowd will be crucial as the team makes a playoff push, especially since the second half of the season should be noticeably less difficult than the first.
  3. Defending the Perimeter: The Wizards have been terrible at guarding the three so far this season, allowing opponents to shoot 38.2 percent from behind the arc, which is the highest defensive percentage in the league, per NBA.com. This is not something that can just be overlooked with how important the three-ball has become in the league, and something I’d like to see the Wizards focus on in the second half of the season.

The Wizards have things to improve on, and things they need to continue to do well. They’re currently in 11th place in the Eastern Conference, which sounds worse than it is, being just two games behind the Pacers for the eighth spot, and only 2.5 games behind the Heat and Pistons for seventh and sixth, respectively.

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With the East standings being so close, the Wizards have a realistic shot at sliding into the fifth, sixth, or seventh spot if they can get into a groove.