The Washington Wizards kicked off their season with a 120-115 win Wednesday night at home over the Philadelphia 76ers.
John Wall & company welcomed 1st overall pick and Maryland native, Markelle Fultz, 2nd-year rookie Ben Simmons and Mr. #trusttheprocess himself, Joel Embiid, to Washington in the newly named Capital One Arena.
Leading scorer for the Wizards Wednesday night was Wall with 28 points; also racking up 8 assists and 5 rebounds. Wall picked up exactly where he left off as he begins made his first case for possible MVP candidacy, in what was a night of flashy passes and left-handed impressive dunks.
Wall, was most impressively in sync with Marcin Gortat as he also had a pretty productive night.
As Gortat put up 17 rebounds and 16 points in 33 minutes of play. While the other big man Jason Smith, who started for injured Markieff Morris, only saw 7 minutes of play with just one rebound. Gortat will need to be just as active in the paint as he was Wednesday night because that’s what the Wizards lack right now with the absence of Morris, who is out for 6-8 weeks after a sports hernia suffered on the 22nd of September. When any other PFs or centers were on the court, they were under at least -11. An interesting stat that outlines the Wizards main weakness far too well.
Another impressive performance came from Kansas’ Kelly Oubre Jr., as he’s peaking a breakout year. Oubre saw 32 minutes on the floor, more than any other non-starter. In 32 minutes of action, he tallied 14 points, 8 rebounds and 2 assists, including an emphatic putback dunk on a Bradley Beal, missed three. What was really impressive about Oubre was his defense on 76er players like Simmons. Oubre also tallied two blocks inside the perimeter. What the Wizards needed from Oubre was constant aggressive play on both ends of the ball and that is exactly what they got from him; now it’s a matter of how consistent he can be for this Wizards team.
Now, when we look at other contenders in the east such as the Cavs and the Celtics, one thing that sets them apart from the Wizards is their depth. Wednesday night, we saw plenty of times the B team struggling to keep the lead set by starters. When Wall or Beal were on the bench the chemistry quickly went away and the offensive rhythm was completely gone.
If the Wizards are going to contend against teams like the Celtics and Cavs, they need to stay healthy and add some more role players to add depth.
For the time being, look for Jodie Meeks to be that role player, and hope he can repeat or surpass his 14 point performance vs. the 76ers.
The Wizards will play tonight at home against the Detroit Pistons, in what should be a more favorable matchup.
Prediction: Wizards 122-109 Pistons
Player of the game: John Wall