The Washington Wizards are coming off a season where they finished with a 25-47 record, with seven fewer wins than the previous year. With All-Star point guard John Wall out for the season with an Achilles injury, Bradley Beal played his best season for the Wizards and put them within shouting distance of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
With the Wizards trading Wall to the Houston Rockets in exchange for another All-Star guard and former MVP in Russell Westbrook and selecting Deni Avdija with the ninth overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, the team was expected to improve on last year’s record and contend for the playoffs.
But four games into the season and Washington finds itself as one of just four winless teams in the NBA, with their latest setback being a 115-107 loss at the hands of the Chicago Bulls that sent Beal, Westbrook and Co. into a disappointing 0-4 start.
A string of losses can’t be blamed on a single reason, as is the case for Washington’s slow start. Westbrook has struggled with his accuracy so far, averaging 19 points on 41.4 percent shooting from the field and just 10 percent from beyond the arc, his lowest numbers since his sophomore season in Oklahoma City. Beal, despite putting up an average of 32 points in four games, is making just 24 percent of his 3-pointers.
Washington’s losses have also been close, with three of them being decided by eight points or fewer. It will be a long season, and there’s a strong chance the Wizards can still turn it around, especially once Westbrook and Beal shoot better from outside, Davis Bertans can increase his playing time and role, and they can close out games strongly.
But if the losses pile up and a season full of promise continues to be disappointing, then the blame may fall on head coach Scott Brooks, even if he has been reunited with Westbrook, his former floor general with the Thunder. In four seasons in charge of the Wizards, Brooks has guided the team to two winning records and two playoff appearances in his first two years but has since compiled a 57-97 record over the last two seasons.
Granted, it happened at a time when Wall was out with injury, but with the arrival of Westbrook, Avdija, along with expectations of contending for the playoffs, more losses could signal an end to his tenure in Washington. Even before the start of the season, Brooks was already the betting favorite as the coach most likely to be removed from his post and the losses have no doubt only made his seat that much hotter.
The blame shouldn’t fall entirely on his shoulders, especially given his players’ early struggles and a relatively short offseason, but teams mired in a losing streak could look to shake things up, and history has shown that front offices are more willing to replace coaches than players.