At the start of the season, the Washington Wizards were such a mess that the word train-wreck seems like an inadequate way to describe them. Playing without star point guard John Wall for the first 33 games of the season, Washington was a dreadful 5-28 to start the season.
Beyond just their record, the team seemed to have no purpose. Everything in their offense focused on isolation with either Jordan Crawford or Bradley Beal. Both of them struggled in this role.
Beal’s struggles were the most troubling, though. The rookie had a ton of promise as a complimentary scorer coming into the season, but failed to produce at a high-level in that iso-ball system. In the 31 games that he played in (he missed two with injuries) without Wall, Beal averaged 13.1 points on 36.7 percent shooting from the field and only 32.3 percent from long-range. Those numbers, specifically the percentages, are really poor.
But with Wall’s return, everything changed. Since that time, the Wizards are 10-7, including their current four-game winning streak. Of course, having the team’s leader and primary scoring threat back on the floor is huge for Washington, but more than that, it’s given us a glimpse of a special young backcourt duo developing in Wall and Beal.
Beal has missed five games due to a wrist injury. But in the 12 games that the two have played together, Beal is averaging 13.8 points per game with a 47.3 percent field goal percentage and a 51.1 percent three-point percentage. In addition to that improvement, Wall also plays slightly better with Beal on the floor.
In those 12 games they’ve played together, the third-year point guard has averaged 14.6 points and 7.1 assists while shooting 40 percent. In comparison, in Wall’s five games without Beal, he averaged the same 14.6 points per game and a slightly increased 7.6 assists per game. But he’s also only shot 38.5 percent from the field and been forced to take substantially more shot attempts per game.
That’s why these two playing together has a chance to be something special. Their games compliment themselves in so many ways. Wall’s slashing game opens up the outside for Beal to spot-up and have uncontested shots. Conversely, Beal’s shooting forces defenders to stick close to him and hedge-defend poorly, which opens up the lane for Wall to dribble and drive. They really seem like the perfect counterparts for each other.
The crazy part is how young both of these guys are and how little they have played together. Right now, Beal is only 19 years old, while Wall is only 22 years old. They have yet to even come close to entering their primes. Then, when you consider that they’ve only played 12 total games together, it seems like the success that they’ve been having together has been mostly about instinctive plays. Think about what they can do when they develop more chemistry together.
Washington looks like they have a backcourt that can do some amazing things going forward in place right now. For Wizards fans, it’s got to be hard to look at Wall and Beal and not get excited about the future because they have a chance to do some pretty great things.