At times against Boston on Wednesday, rookie shooting guard Bradley Beal also was a must-watch player. With Beal, pay attention to how aggressive he is on offense. When shooters are confident, they’ll roll off of screens and shoot no matter how tight opponents are sticking to them. Beal’s three-pointer gave the Wizards an 83-82 lead late in regulation. That was definitely worth watching. Beal’s solid showing against the Celtics is the sort of thing that could help him get into a good rhythm.
In addition to watching the guys on the court now, Wizards fans also should look forward to the return of point guard John Wall and center Nene. How will Wall and Nene, the best players on the team, fit in when they eventually recover from injuries? Does Seraphin’s role in the offense decrease once Nene steps back on the court? Is Wall capable of elevating the Wizards from bad to at least mediocre?
I have serious doubts that anything could jump-start center Emeka Okafor and forward Trevor Ariza. Okafor and Ariza, acquired in a June trade, were the key players in management’s offseason plan to improve the roster. You could say they’ve been end-of-the-bench awful. But that would be unfair to even the worst guys relegated to the end of benches throughout the league.
Okafor and Ariza have been so bad that they sat the entire fourth quarter the past two games. They also watched all of overtime Wednesday from their seats. Combined, Okafor and Ariza are averaging 8.7 points a game. For that, Wizards owner Ted Leonsis will commit about $43 million in salary to them over the next two years.
Meanwhile, forward Rashard Lewis, whom the Wizards dealt for Okafor and Ariza, is averaging 9.4 points off the bench for Miami. He’s shooting 54.5 percent from the field and making 47.1 percent of his three-pointers. Nice trade.
Even Okafor and Ariza, however, provide reasons to tune in. Can they overcome rock-bottom starts and emerge as productive members of the team? Are they capable of surprising with some timely plays? Will they at least break a sweat during crunch time? It’s all part of what could keep you interested when the team’s record simply isn’t enough.
The Wizards say they intend to become winners. Until their plan takes shape, we’ll just have to celebrate the little things. That’s all the Wizards ever give us.
For previous columns by Jason Reid, visit washingtonpost.com/reid.