At the top of the NBA Eastern Conference is quite an unusual sight. In second are the splurging Chicago Bulls with the new additions of Lonzo Ball and Demar Derozan. However surprising that might seem, the top seeded Washington Wizards have been even more surprising. After flipping Russell Westbrook to the Lakers in the biggest trade this offseason, it seems like those moves are paying early dividends.
Out with the Old, in with the New
Two major departures mark the new chapters of this Wizards team. This includes the trade of Westbrook, and the firing of coach Scott Brooks. Replacing Brooks is first time head coach Wes Unseld Jr, and right now it looks like he has got this team on the right track. Meshing the new pieces acquired from the offseason with the talent already on the roster has allowed the Unseld Jr. and the Wizards to push right out of the gates. The other major move by the Wizards was to move on from the massive contract of Westbrook in exchange for budding star Spencer Dinwidde and young, up and coming players in Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Montrezl Harrell. This trade has turned out to be a major win for the Wizards, Dinwidde is proving to be a perfect running mate alongside Bradley Beal and Kuzma and KCP are just adding to the talent on the wings. It also can’t be taken for granted, the relentless energy that Harrell brings on almost every play. This team is deep and after drafting sharpshooter Corey Kispert out of Gonzaga, the Wizards are 2 or 3 players deep at every position.
The Backbone of the Wizards
This entire team hangs on the balance of their star, Bradley Beal. The Wizards are trying to make the best possible roster around Beal, and he is fully committed to getting this team deep into the playoffs. The entire offense has been sculpted around the shooting and explosiveness of Beal and his ability to create for himself and others. The Wizards seem to have found a team that can carry the slack when Beal is off the court, even take a few games when he is out, but also maximize his impact when their superstar is on the floor. With Westbrook last year, this team couldn’t function with the lack of shooting and closed lanes. Now the Wizards have shooters all around the floor, and Beal seems to have finally found a roster that maximizes his own potential as a superstar.
Top Image: AP Photo/Nick Wass