This week in Wizards: Off to a hot start

By Faiyaad Kamal

*This column does not include Washington’s games against the Pistons on 10/25 or the Pacers on 10/28

It’s late October, the fall colors are booming, the weather is getting cooler, and NBA basketball is finally back, meaning the Washington Wizards are as well. After a disappointing 2021 season, the Wizards re-signed Bradley Beal, acquired Monte Morris and Will Barton via a trade with the Nuggets, and drafted rookie Johnny Davis. Washington also added big-man Taj Gibson to the center rotation, after losing Thomas Bryant to Los Angeles, as well as point guard Delon Wright who will add to the backcourt depth.

Similar to last year, the Wizards have opened the season hot, picking up a few early quality wins. While far from perfect, it’s clear that this team possesses tons of talent and has the ability to make the playoffs.

Season opener

It wasn’t the prettiest performance of all time, but the Wizards 114–107 win over the Pacers certainly left fans excited for the team’s future. The Wizards barely got by the inexperienced Pacers, whose top scorers were rookie Benedict Mathurin and 22-year-old Tyrese Haliburton. Allowing the Pacers, projected to finish at the bottom of the Eastern conference, to hang around until the final seconds of the game, is definitely not what the Wizards were looking to do. With two minutes left in the fourth quarter, Washington was up by 11; flash forward a minute and a half later, and it’s a three point game. Indiana was one missed three pointer away from sending the game to overtime and having a chance to win. The Wizards perimeter defense was especially worrisome, as they allowed the Pacers to put up 42 shots from behind the arc. Luckily for Washington, Indiana didn’t convert them at a high clip, but that is definitely an aspect the Wizards need to improve in. On the other hand, the performance of Washington’s big three proved to fans why this team could be scary. Beal, Kuzma and Porzingis combined for 60 of the team’s 114 points. Both Porzingis and Kuzma were active on the defensive end, racking up two blocks each. Porzingis successfully took advantage of his size matchup, scoring several buckets from right inside the paint. Barton also shined in his Wizards debut, scoring 14 points in 25 minutes, including some clutch free throws to close out the game. Daniel Gafford once again showed why he is one of the most reliable backup centers in the league, tallying 12 points and seven boards in just 16 minutes. Overall, it was an impressive opening performance for the Wizards and while there are certainly things to work on, fans can be excited for what is to come.


The Wizards came away with a nail-biting 102–100​​ win over the Chicago Bulls. Once again, Washington’s big three, more specifically, Bradley Beal showed out. Porzingis had 14 points and two blocks on solid efficiency, Kuzma hit four threes, scoring 26 points on 50% shooting and Beal scored the game winner to top off his 19-point performance. The Bulls served as a much tougher matchup than Indiana, and Washington felt that all the way until the final buzzer. The Wizards second string lineup of Wright, Barton, Rui Hachimura, Anthony Gill and Gafford proved to be effective to open up the second quarter, allowing the team to retake the lead. By the end of the quarter, the Wizards relentless frontcourt of Porzingis and Kuzma had exploded for 12 unanswered points, as Washington cruised into halftime with a 56–50 lead. In the opener, Washington struggled to defend the perimeter, but they vastly improved in that aspect against Chicago, forcing the Bulls to shoot a dismal 25% from deep. However, the real talking point of this game was Beal’s game winner. With just under 10 seconds to play, Beal knocked in a floater off the glass, showing the home crowd he’s worth the 250 million dollar contract he signed this offseason. All in all, the Wizards looked much more complete as a team in this game compared to their opener against Indiana.


Unfortunately, there will be no 82–0 season for the Wizards this year. In the toughest matchup of the season so far, the Wizards fell to the Cavs in overtime. Many say that basketball is a game of runs, and this game was the epitome of that. After the first quarter, it seemed like the Wizards were going to win by 50. Halfway through the fourth quarter, it felt like the Cavs were going to easily win. The Wizards scored seven straight points in the final minute to send the game to overtime. During overtime, the Wizards constantly turned the ball over, and seemingly forgot how to collect a defensive rebound, allowing Cleveland to pull away with a 117–107 victory. 

Even though there are obvious things the Wizards need to work on, it is clear that this team has tons of potential and fans should be excited for what is to come this season.