Scott Brooks hire by the Washington Wizards after a disappointing season where the team failed to make the playoffs following consecutive semi final appearances in the Eastern Conference of the NBA was expected. The former Oklahoma City Thunder manager won a championship ring with the Houston Rockets during his playing days and catapulted himself into one of the most in demand coaches of the game due to his extensive positive record. Guiding OKC Thunder to multiple appearances in the post season, it is perhaps the former Point Guard’s role in developing young studs like Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden into elite superstars that stands out.
A tenacious defender in his playing days, Brooks contributed in molding Serge Ibaka from a raw athletic big man into a top rated defensive player who deserves more than the usual All-NBA Defensive Team he checks in. Signing with America’s capital city’s sole NBA franchise for five years worth $35 million dollars has keyed Michael Jordan’s former team in the top eight eastern sides for next season in many people’s views.
Having turned the fortunes of the Seattle Super Sonics/ OKC Thunder around after replacing P.J.Carlesimo as head coach, Brooks heads to Washington with the magic wand that will push the team to claim a conference title for the first time since 1979.
However, a quick look at the team points clearly to factors other than Brooks as the “Messiah” to pull off this feat. First of all, any sort of Championship-caliber Washington Wizards team will depend largely on its’ dynamic backcourt of Point Guard John Wall and Shooting Guard Bradley Beal. Wall is one of the top ten floor generals in the league with Beal also checking in at the top of his class in the “2” position.
Despite leading Washington to the second round in last season’s playoffs, beating Toronto Raptors in the earlier round and pushing highly rated Atlanta Hawks all the way and fracturing his hand in the process, Wall was not included in any of the All-NBA teams. His impressive numbers (17.6 points and 10.0 assists) couldn’t dislodge Stephen Curry, Westbrook, Chris Paul and Kyrie Irving from the list despite being a far better defender than Irving.
Thanks to a shallow pool of talent, Beal is one of the best Shooting Guards in the league with James Harden and Klay Thompson leading the way. Any kind of improvement from the duo will be a major boost for the team’s title aspirations. For starters, Beal must show durability in his game as the former Florida product is yet to play all 82 games in the regular season since being drafted in 2012.
He missed 27 games this season due to recurring stress fracture in his leg and missed 19 games prior to that. Wall, despite improving his shooting is still a turnover prone guard who averaged a career best 3.2 turnovers per game in 2012-2013.
He averaged a career high 4.1 turnovers this season as former coach Randy Wittman contorted his team to a more modern NBA outfit which plays fast and fires a lot three point shots.
The tweak in style certainly benefits a road runner like Wall who is blisteringly quick on the open floor. It does same for athletic guys Beal, Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre Jnr. However, playing fast meant Washington abandoned its’ defensive trait that transformed them from a mediocre team to one of the dark horse contenders for the eastern title.
The system change caused Washington to fall from a fifth ranked defense in 2014-2015 to 14th in 2015-2016 according to basketballreference.com. Having a defense oriented coach in Scott Brooks reverts the team back to its’ roots which propelled the Wizards back to relevance.
Brooks oversaw Oklahoma rank in the top ten in defensive ratings bar his final season where the team managed a below average rank of 16 in the league. The main cause for this was the myriad of injuries that decimated the roster particularly those of Durant undergoing surgery for a fractured bone in his foot, Westbrook missing five weeks due to hand surgery and Serge Ibaka miss six weeks due to a knee surgery. Prior to 2014-2015, the Thunder was ranked sixth in the league which ensured another conference finals appearance.
Kevin Durant’s signature is the most sought after commodity in the NBA heading into free agency with every team in pursuit of the 2014 Most Valuable Player. His expansive game of insane shooting, underrated passing and defensive skills means he is simply a nightmare to play against and a huge asset to have in a team.
Durant is from the Washington area and the Wizards have made no secret in securing his signature as the number one priority ahead of next season. Seeing former Wizards player Paul pierce leave to reunite with Doc Rivers for less money can be surely counted as one of the reasons Brooks was roped in.
After winning a title together in Boston, Pierce bolted to join forces with Rivers at his new post with the Los Angeles Clippers. His move had double benefits with Pierce getting the chance to get closer to his home in Inglewood, California. The chance to reunite with a familiar face in a familiar environment will be the Wizards key points to pitch a sale for the Small Forward.
Fail to get him and LeBron continues to dominate the East no matter the tactical ingenuity of Brooks who has the highest win percentage of any coach to never win a championship (.620).