The Odd Wizards are a group of people that have a knack for making things

The Wizards Of Odd

The Washington Wizards were in first place in the Eastern Conference just a few weeks ago, winning 13 of their first 20 games. Washington, on the other hand, has gone 8-13 since Nov. 29, slipping to ninth place in the East with a 21-20 record. What a humiliating fall from grace.

Along with the Chicago Bulls in the East, the Wizards were one of the early surprises of the season. Chicago’s rising trend has continued, and the Bulls now have a 2.5-game lead over the Brooklyn Nets for first place in the Eastern Conference. The Wizards have gone in the opposite direction, and the chances of their reversing course are small.

It didn’t take long for the drama to emerge in the Wizards’ locker room, with players loudly criticizing Bradley Beal’s shot totals in comparison to others. Back in December, both Montrezl Harrell and Spencer Dinwiddie expressed their displeasure with the offence’s performance. To Beal’s credit, he is taking three fewer shots per game this season than he did the previous two seasons. This, obviously, hasn’t been sufficient to keep Washington on track.

In 34 games this season, Beal has averaged just 24 points per game. That’s the lowest ppg he’s had since the 2017-18 campaign. Furthermore, for the second time in less than a month, Beal has been placed in the NBA’s COVID health and safety program. Call it terrible luck, strange karma, or whatever you want to call it, the Wizards have had a rough six weeks. Defense is by far one of their most serious problems, with a defensive rating of 22nd. It’s no surprise that the team is struggling defensively with Beal, Harrell, and Dinwiddie all coming off ACL injuries.

With the trade for Russell Westbrook that brought Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Kyle Kuzma here from the Lakers, it felt like they’d finally done something right. They made the right decision in selling Westbrook, but the club hasn’t performed up to its early-season standards in recent weeks. Beal averaging over 30 points per game didn’t help Washington, and now he’s averaging considerably less, and they’re still struggling. This franchise can’t seem to get a break.

The Athletic reported this morning that club sources told them about a brawl in the locker room during the Thunder’s 122-118 victory on Tuesday night. After Harrell became upset over Caldwell-Pope failing to pass him the ball on a particular play in the first half, things turned physical between the two. Despite the fact that they beat Oklahoma City (which isn’t saying much), this latest locker room episode captures the team’s downward trajectory since December. It sure pours when it rains.

The Wizards are still in the running for a play-in spot, but there’s no guarantee they’ll be able to keep their season alive in the second half. This is a terrific squad, and now that they have some pieces around Beal, they should be much better than they have been over the last month. Once Beal returns from his health and safety precautions, it seems like one of those «infamous» players-only meetings is in order.

Washington must solve a number of issues as soon as possible. Whether it’s the defense, the offence’s flow, or teammates squaring up to throw down, there’s always something going on. There are 41 games left to bring everyone back up to speed. With this squad, head coach Wes Unseld Jr. faces a monumental assignment. We’ll see if they can reclaim a spot among the East’s top six teams, or if they’ll drift away as the Wizards have in the past.

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