Remember last year when the Washington Wizards were the joke of the NBA?
You remember, right after the John Wall trade, when Brad Beal was throwing chairs and literally begging for help? Admitting that yes, the Wizards couldn’t be tasked with guarding even a parked car.
NBA fans started a #FreeBeal movement. Brad had no help. It was just a bum-legged Westbrook and really no one else. Everyone, and I mean everyone, wanted to see Brad Beal traded.
Everyone except Brad Beal. Brad Beal was adamant he wanted to win in DC.
Yesh for sure, Brad. WINK WINK. At that moment it felt like Brad was just being the nice guy, like Dame a guy who loved his community but wouldn’t admit the truth publicly the big truth: you can’t win in DC.
Here was the other narrative. If Brad really wanted to win, he would need to join a plethora of other All-Stars in Boston, LA, Philly, Golden State etc. Join a super team or be relegated to obscurity.
And that was the only way.
It’s early yet but it turns out that isn’t really true. What Brad really needed was just competent role players and depth. The most complicated, complex trade that sent out Russ turns out to have been a BOON, and seemingly restocked the Wizards' depleted cupboards in an instant.
The Wizards are now 5-1, and that is not a fraudulent 5-1 either. They have GRITTY wins over teams they would have lost to last year. Like their two wins over Boston and Indy. They also have a signature blowout win over a team that went to the Eastern Conference Finals a year ago, and they did it without 40% of their starting lineup.
To beat the life out of a fully healthy Atlanta team without your starting point guard and starting center? It’s rather stunning. It was the moment I thought 'hmmmmm … this Wizards team might not just be a fluke. They might be for real.'
And it all starts with the roster.
Spencer Dinwiddie is probably the most underrated free agent signing of the year, and they got him for almost nothing, as an extra in the Russ trade. He is a bona fide bucket-getter and a hell of a playmaker that can take a load of pressure off of Beal. Because Beal has offensive help, and he’s able to focus on defense; being the two-way player he’s been wanting to be that no one believed he was.
Spencer is definitely alleviating pressure from Brad. He’s averaging 20 and 5 a game. And to think people laughed when he said he thought he was worth $25 million a year.
Aaron Holiday, their backup point, who was a throwaway piece, is now the best defender on the team and is hell on earth for players like Trae Young. He is CLAMPS.
Montrezl Harrell, who was getting DNPs in Laker Land, is averaging 19 off the bench and will probably run away with Sixth Man of the Year again.
Kuzma and KCP are actually very good pieces that can score, hit open corner 3s, and give some help in the defense and rebounding departments.
Kyle Kuzma is a top-10 rebounder. Let that sink in for a minute.
Nevermind that their power forward has been MIA for personal reasons, and this team is not only in great shape, but only getting better.
This is what Brad had to say after their gritty win over the Celtics:
“Just imagine when everything starts clicking, when everybody’s gelling, when everybody’s healthy. It’s going to be scary,” Beal said.
Wait, they’re not gelling right now? They put up 130 points against the Pacers… and things aren’t even clicking yet?? People aren’t healthy?
They are 5-1 against the seventh-toughest schedule in the NBA.
The Wizards to me are the most surprising team in the East this first 6 games into the season, and the small sample size shows me everything I need to know about Brad’s future. Forget that Tatum is recruiting Brad to Boston. Brad Beal is NEVER going to Boston.
In fact, these first games to me shows Brad Beal would NEVER leave DC to pair with another star. Beal wants to be THE STAR. I mean, he is the star.
Brad’s not a second fiddle to the latest version of John Wall, he is the player you build your franchise around. Deservedly so. Brad is Batman. He just needs a Robin and an Alfred or two to make sure when trouble comes, he has backup.
How far can the Wizards go? They could be this year’s Hawks. The team that nobody saw coming.
Except for me… Right now. Mark it.