The Washington Wizards are one of the league’s best teams this season.
Unfortunately, they fell out of the top spot in the Eastern Conference on Thursday with their 112-97 loss in Miami.
Nevertheless, it has been an impressive season thus far.
Wes Unseld Jr., the son of late Hall of Famer Wes Unseld, is doing his father proud early in 2021-22.
Unseld went from Denver Nuggets assistant coach to Wizards head coach and is excelling.
He is taking over from Scott Brooks, who coached the team the last five years.
In the former coach’s final three seasons with the team, the Wizards played sub-.500 basketball.
They also have not won a playoff series since 2017.
The Wizards look like they are ready for success this season.
Here are the three reasons the Wizards are off to a great start:
3. Bradley Beal Is Doing His Job On The Offensive End
Before the season, Bradley Beal seemed like he wanted to remain with Washington to be the star in the nation’s capital.
Heading into Thursday, Beal led the team with 23.4 points per game, which ranked 15th in the NBA.
In the previous two seasons, he ranked second in the league in scoring.
Although his scoring decreased, he leads all players in free throw percentage this year.
The three-time all-star has not had to do as much heavy lifting this season.
The reason why he has not had to do as much heavy lifting is that he now has helped by a lot of new teammates.
2. The Wizards Won The Russell Westbrook Trade
The Wizards received plenty of rotation players in the five-way trade that sent Russell Westbrook to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Here is what the final version of the five-team trade looks like, according to sources:
Rights to three more
18 total trade pieces pic.twitter.com/6Uoy74XMcr
— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) August 5, 2021
The Wizards received 3-point shooting in this trade.
The top four 3-point shooters on the team were acquired in the trade (3-point percentages heading into Thursday):
In comparison, Westbrook has shot just 30 percent from downtown.
Let us not forget Montrezl Harrell, who is second on the team in scoring behind Beal.
What a sequence from the Wizards!
Harrell block ➡️ Beal 3️⃣ pic.twitter.com/g3IpC9WcQF
— NBABet (@nbabet) November 18, 2021
Also, it is good to see Harrell’s defense turning into Beal’s offense.
1. The Team’s Defense Is Astounding
The Wizards have their best defense in seven years.
Maybe it is their decreased pace.
It could also be their change in personnel.
According to Basketball-Reference’s roster continuity graph, the Wizards are second only to the Lakers in terms of their roster change.
All the Wizards needed was a change, and they have played strong basketball, except for on Thursday
Washington lost to the Tyler Herro-less Heat, which was not the best look for the Wizards.
With the Miami victory, the Heat overtook the Wizards for the top spot in the Southeast Division.
Miami scored 112 points in the win against Washington.
The Wizards have had to put on their defensive shoes in order to be successful.
They are 6-1 this season when allowing 100 or fewer points this season.
Of those six wins, two have come against the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks and the surprisingly impressive Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Wizards also have taken two games from the Boston Celtics, who have struggled thus far this season.
It may be too early in the season to know if the Wizards are bound for playoff success.
Maybe they can make a trade or two near the deadline and try to be a contender.