“I look at things from a whole, because this is how — when I played, I was a backup, and I didn’t like to be divided,” Brooks said. “We don’t have two teams here, we have one basketball team, and right now we’re not happy and content on being 2-7.”
The Wizards’ lack of depth was particularly evident Saturday, when they were without starters John Wall and Bradley Beal. (Wall was sitting out the second of back-to-back games, and Beal had tightness in his right hamstring.) After that game, Washington’s second unit has a minus-11.2 rating, the fourth-worst in the NBA.
Still, Brooks said it’s difficult to evaluate the group as a true second unit, he reasons, when they’re busy plugging holes left by Wall and Beal (who together average 37.7 points per game) and missing backup center Ian Mahinmi, who had surgery on his left knee to repair a partially torn medial meniscus in October.
“It puts a lot of pressure on our team to compete against the tough schedule that we’ve had – and I’m not making an excuse and nor have our guys made an excuse – but we’ve stayed competitive,” Brooks said. “I want to get everybody back in the mix so we can really judge how we play and how we can put the units together and we can find out a good rotation.”
Beal, on the other hand, views his and Wall’s injures as perfect opportunities for his teammates to gain experience. Rookies Sheldon McClellan and Tomas Satoransky played well Saturday in Chicago. Beal thinks others should follow their lead.
“They have to take advantage of the opportunity,” Beal responded when asked how the second unit could be more active. “You know, I’m not playing right now so this would be a perfect time for the young guys to get in practice, get their rhythm, get their flows and get used to the plays, get used to playing.
“Because Coach is gonna need everybody throughout the season. Everybody’s not gonna be healthy; it’s 82 games. … You gotta go out there and step foot just knowing that you belong here and we have a great team. And we gotta believe that we’re a great team and just play with some confidence.”
Beal said he hopes to be healthy enough to be back in a more normal looking lineup in Wednesday’s game in Philadelphia. Brooks is unsure if he’ll be available.
The guard practiced some Monday and can jump off two feet and shoot jumpers without issue. But lingering hamstring tightness affects his ability to move and cut, and limits his stride despite what Beal describes as constant progress.
“It’s not great,” he said. “It’s not 1,000 percent, but it’s pretty close.”
With games Wednesday at Philadelphia and Thursday at home against the Knicks, Brooks hasn’t decided which Wall will sit out. So the Wizards could play again Wednesday without their two stars.
With that possibility hanging over them, Brooks promised Gortat’s comments had no lingering effects on the team’s mind-set.
“You move on, and we have a good group of guys that understand that,” Brooks said. “We all make mistakes at times, but we have to move on, and we will. We’re not happy, and that’s a good thing. If we were happy and we’re 2-7, I would be really concerned. And if we haven’t had good practices, I would be really concerned. But we’re not having any of that. Our guys are focused on playing better, and we know we get Brad and get John back into the mix and Ian back into the mix, we have a really good basketball team.”