Why Wizards’ Hot Start To NBA Season Is Sustainable

Washington Wizards, NBA
NBA Analysis Network

The Washington Wizards have gotten off to one of the best starts in the NBA this season. They are tied with the Chicago Bulls for the best record in the Eastern Conference at 8-3. The Utah Jazz also has an 8-3 record and are second in the Western Conference behind the Golden State Warriors, who are 10-1.

There were a lot of people that believed the Wizards were heading toward another retooling when they traded Russell Westbrook to the Los Angeles Lakers. The looming free agency of Bradley Beal was another reason to believe the Wizards could start moving veterans, but those plans have likely changed.

Washington is playing excellent basketball under first-year head coach Wes Unseld Jr. He has the team playing well on both ends of the court, as they are 13th in offensive rating and sixth in defensive rating.

The success that the Wizards have found early in the season is a success that can be sustained. A big reason for that is the quality of depth that the team has.

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Turning Westbrook into Spencer Dinwiddie alone would have been considered a win. When you add in Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Washington came away as big winners.

Dinwiddie is rounding into form after missing all but three games during the 2020-21 season. He is averaging 15.4 points, 5.7 assists, and five rebounds in 29.4 minutes per game. Caldwell-Pope is providing the team with a 3-and-D option on the wing as well, but it is Kuzma and Harrell that have really taken off.

Kuzma is showcasing yet again that when given opportunities, he makes the most of them. He has stepped into the starting power forward spot and produced excellently, scoring 14.8 points with 9.1 rebounds and two assists per game.

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Harrell has performed more like the Sixth Man of the Year he was during the 2019-20 season than how he played with the Lakers last season. He is second on theWashington Wizards with 18.3 points per game off the bench. His 9.3 rebounds per game also lead the team. In addition, Harrell is adding 1.9 assists and 1.2 blocks per game.

Washington has excellent depth and it will improve even more with Rui Hachimura nearing a return and Thomas Bryant is not too much further behind. They may not remain as the No. 1 seed in the conference, but they certainly look like a playoff team at this juncture.