Believe it or not, the Washington Wizards are in a three-way fight for first place in the 10 games of the Eastern Conference season. Washington is flying under the radar at 7-3, as teams like the Bulls and the Heat get everyone’s attention to improve their offseason rosters. But the wizards are saying, “To sustain… just wait a minute. “
No one paid attention to the wizards in the offseason, or had them on their radar when the season kicked off a few weeks ago. The Russell-Westbrook-to-the-Lakers trade has been attacked from every angle, mainly centered around LeBron James and the Lakers. Or how the addition of Westbrook would play, and whether the trio of Westbrook, James and Anthony Davis would work. Let’s see how it’s going so far, and it wasn’t nice.
Washington has picked up what appears to be a nice booty in exchange for Westbrook. Montrezl Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Kyle Kuzma seem to be just the supporting cast Bradley Beal needed. Even with a future Hall of Famer at Westbrook last year, the Wizards needed an end-of-season run to get into the postseason. The way this team is playing right now, it looks like they should finish in the top six, securing them a place in the playoffs and avoiding the play-in tournament.
Harrell had a bad year with the Lakers but now looks to be thriving in Washington. Montrezl has averaged 17.7ppg, 9.1rpg (the highest in his career) and is shooting 66% from the field. Kuzma enjoyed its highest ppg average (14.1) since 2018-19, which was the first year of the LeBron era in Los Angeles. Kuzma also set the career board record with 9.5 rebounds. Caldwell-Pope is providing that shooter’s touch by making over 40 percent of his 3-point attempts. Even though Beal’s average has dropped to 24.2 from 30 or more over the past two years, I’m sure he’ll accept it if the team continues to win.
Spencer Dinwiddie is another great off-season pick up for wizards, averaging just under 16 points per game and shooting over 38% from behind the arc. I’m pretty sure the Nets would give up a lot to get Dinwiddie back right now.
With some Eastern teams appearing to be taking many steps backwards, this is the perfect opportunity for the wizards to make a move and cement themselves within the framework of the Eastern Conference playoffs later in the year. The Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics, Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, and Indiana Pacers are all under .500 at the start. No one expects the Bucks to struggle year round, but Hawks, Pacers, and Celtics may need more help if they hope to bounce back from their rough beginnings.
Meanwhile, Philly has to deal with all of them The Ben Simmons drama, and now Joel Embiid is out of COVID-19. It is unknown where the 76ers will be in terms of records in a couple of months. Cleveland is another young team that played crazy earlier this year, but I don’t expect it to last much longer. The Cavs have a nice young core, but as the season progresses I see them finish in play-in tournaments. I’m not sure the Cavs can maintain this momentum all season. Younger teams usually struggle to consistently win in the NBA. They have veterans like Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio, but they won’t be enough to help them get where they want.
These wizards may have enough to roam at least near the top of the East this year. They have quite veteran leadership and if Beal stays on the pitch, they will be in most games. No clear Eastern Conference favorite has come forward yet, so first place is still open. It looks like the Wizards can keep an eye on him and may be ready to surprise a lot of people.