(Photo courtesy of NBA.com/Ned Dishman)
This one was locked up pretty early for me. In John Wall’s return, Martell Webster was the Wizards MVP (see what I did there?). He started off the game with a quick six points as he and Nene scored the Wizards first 12 points. Webster’s hustle on the court was unreal—grabbing steals, moving well off the ball, and keeping the tempo of the game in the favor of the Wizards.
He had two and-one slams and drew a foul on a three pointer. He was unrealistically locked in on tonight’s game. I’ve been a big fan of his dedication and passion on and off the court, and tonight was no different. Ending the night with 15 points, two steals, two assists and one board, Webster has been the most consistent player on this roster.
Bradley Beal: Beal had another excellent night. It’s been a lot of fun watching his improvement over the past month or so. He ended the night with 16 points, three steals, two assists and four boards. He was all over the court tonight, and if tonight is any indication, he might be in the running for the January Eastern Conference rookie of the month.
Devin Harris: Harris was not as big of a threat as Teague was for the Hawks. Harris played 22 minutes and locked up eight points, five assists and two boards. It certainly didn’t help him that he had Wall, Price, and Beal draped on him for most of the game, either.
John Wall: It took him a while to get going after he entered the game for the first time this season to a standing ovation, but Wall came to life in the second half, and more specifically in the fourth quarter. He was showing signs of the John Wall that the fans are used to.
That jump shot still has something left to be desired, but he was making flashy moves around the basket to score the inside hoop or to find the open player to get the hoop. He ended up playing 20 minutes and had a stat line of 14 points, four assists and two rebounds. Not the most impressive night from a box score standpoint, but for a first game back, this is a great sign.
Look--- John Wall came back. Only two players inactive, and the Wizards won. I thought it was time to focus some more positivity on this game, so tonight, it will be the “Not-So-Bad”
Trevor Ariza: Tonight I saw a side of Ariza I haven’t seen all season (granted he’s been injured for a good part of it). Before the injury, it seemed like he was forcing a lot of shots and trying to sink the shots that he thought he would make. Ultimately, it led to a lot of frustration for both him and the fans as he more than not came up short on the shots.
But tonight’s Trevor Ariza showed no interest in forcing anything except moving the ball. He came up big on the defensive end, grabbing rebounds and pressuring the shooter; but what I saw on the offensive end was even more impressive. He didn’t come up big on the stat sheet in assists (one assist overall), but he was actively moving the ball around to try and find an open shot for someone else. He ultimately ended the night with two points, one assist and nine boards.
Emeka Okafor: Is it just me, or does it feel like his play has been falling even more flat ever since that short spurt of offense he had last month?
Okafor repeatedly missed very makeable baskets and free throws. Even with his defensive production on the boards, it just doesn’t make up for his ineffectiveness on the offensive side of the ball. It felt like every time the Wizards were starting to get going, Okafor threw up a brick from just past the foul line. When he takes a shot from anywhere further than the restricted zone under the hoop, it’s an immediate tempo killer for the Wizards. He’s got to find more ways to get inside buckets and instead of taking those longer shots (even though I’m sure he thinks he can sink them), he needs to kick out to Beal or Wall who could probably set him up for a more efficient bucket.