The Washington Wizards jumped out to an 8-3 start this season, which propelled them to the top of the standings in the Eastern Conference and to first place in the Southeast Division.
Only the Golden State Warriors (10-1) have won more games than the Wizards. Their auspicious start has everyone spellbound around the NBA, and that includes players, coaches, fans, bettors, and even beat reporters.
The Wizards edged out the Cleveland Cavaliers last night 97-94 thanks to a last-second 3-pointer from Kyle Kuzma.
“This is a character win,” said Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. “Our execution late was outstanding and I have all the confidence in Kyle. The kid has been there before and he’s done it before.”
Kuzma scored 12 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter, including a pair of treys in the last 30 seconds of the game. The Wizards improved to 3-0 in close games this season, including a perfect 2-0 record in overtime. Betting-wise, the Wizards are 7-4 against the spread this season.
The Wizards saw their Southeast Division odds tick up to +1400 and ahead of the Charlotte Hornets (+2000), but they’re still trailing the Miami Heat (-370) and Atlanta Hawks (+400).
On the NBA futures board, the Wizards are still massive long shots to win the 2022 NBA Championship at +20000.
LA Imports: Trez, Kuz, KCP
After the Wizards traded Russell Westbrook to the Los Angeles Lakers, oddsmakers lowballed the Wizards this season with a win total at 33.5 o/u. They were the seventh-lowest team on the futures board, and predicted to be one of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference along with the Orlando Magic and Detroit Pistons.
However, it’s those exact players that the Lakers dumped for Westbrook that helped boost the team. As the saying goes, “One person’s trash is another’s treasure.” The players the Lakers threw away — Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope — have been a complimentary bunch alongside Bradley Beal.
Harrell averages 18.3 ppg off the bench as the Wiz’s second-best scorer. He also leads the team with 9.3 rebounds per game. Kuzma was part of the Lakers’ second unit for the past two seasons, but he averages 14.8 and 9.1 rebounds as a starter. Caldwell-Pope provided clutch spot-up perimeter shooting for the Lakers last season whenever LeBron James or Anthony Davis got double-teamed, but now he’s offering those much-needed services to the Wizards whenever Beal gets doubled or even tripled.
Beal finished second in the NBA scoring title race in the previous two seasons with 31.3 ppg last season and 30.5 ppg two seasons ago. Beal is currently #17 in the NBA with 23.1 ppg, which is down nearly eight points from last season. Even so, the Wizards are winning thanks to a more balanced scoring attack.
The Wizards start a triple-guard offense with Spencer Dinwiddie at point guard and Beal and KCP as off guards. Dinwiddie is healthy after recovering from knee surgery. He’s thriving with his new team, averaging 15.4 points and 5.7 assists per game.