The Wizards are off to a 11-5 start, sitting just 1.5 games back of the Nets for the first seed in the East.
However, Washington has flipped the script defensively this season, as they’re currently fifth in defensive rating in the league.
“I think it’s just our unity and our togetherness,” Bradley Beal said in an interview with Chris Miller of NBC Sports Washington. “It doesn’t matter what it is on the court, we just find a way to get it done. We figure it out, we stay in it, we don’t let go of the rope. That’s how we are. It’s not a lot of finger-pointing, not a lot of blame. It’s more encouragement more, ‘let’s be better,’ more constructive criticism than anything. That’s what’s been missing, that’s what we need, and that’s what we’re kind of feeding off of. Wes [Unseld Jr.] instilling his schemes, his kind of culture on to us, we’re buying into it, we’re buying into his stock… This has been a great, great, great group to be around.”
Many of the pieces Beal is referring to weren’t even on the roster last season. Spencer Dinwiddie, Montrezl Harrell, Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope all came back in the five-team trade that sent Russell Westbrook to the Lakers, and now all of them are finding their niche again in Washington.
“We have a group of guys who have a chip on their shoulder,” Beal said. “Everybody we traded for wasn’t played in their respective positions that they like, that they have the freedom that they do now. They’re able to flap their wings a little bit now over here and we have a lot of guys and even coach, has a chip on his shoulder. He’s been waiting 20-plus years for this opportunity.”
More Wizards Notes
- In that same interview, Beal shared that he believes there is room for improvement. “I haven’t even played well yet, and I don’t think none of us have really played up to our level and our potential of where we know we can play it,” Beal said. Beal also believes that re-integrating Hachimura, Bertans and Bryant could make things “scary” for the Wizards’ offense.
Hachimura and Bertans were full participants in practice on Tuesday, per Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Bertans is expected to return for Wednesday night’s game against the Pelicans.
Hachimura has no timeline, but looked good shooting the ball as he was outshooting his teammates in drills where the media was present. Hachimura is also learning the team’s new playbook, terminology and how to operate spatially with his new teammates.
Beal is carrying a different mindset following the loss of his grandmother, he opens up in an interview with Miller. “It’s tough at times to walk on the floor because…it reminds me of her,” Beal said. “It hits you unexpectedly but at the same time, it encourages me to keep going and encourages me in the fact that I have another level that I need to tap into and I can get to and I just serve this as motivation to get there.”