John Wall had a monstrous performance Wednesday night as he recorded 33 points on 13-for-19 shooting from the field, dishing out 11 assists and grabbing five rebounds. And still, the Washington Wizards ended up on the losing side of their game against the Toronto Raptors by the score of 113-103.
Wall did turn the ball over nine times, but when a player is expected to do as much as he is for this team, that will happen. He did have some help from Otto Porter, who finished with 23 points on an incredible 11-for-13 shooting. The duo of Marcin Gortat and Bradley Beal combined for 30 points to help matters.
That said, what was most alarming about last night’s game in particular was the disastrous performance from the bench, which was outscored by Toronto’s reserves 34-11.
Head coach Scott Brooks is still feeling out the exact rotations that bring the most success. In the first two games, he went with mass substitutions of three or four bench players at a time early on, but they kept managing to blow leads or make deficits even larger. Against Toronto, he tried to mix-and-match by leaving a few starters in at a time and at one point, Beal was the only starters amongst the reserves on the floor.
It’s no secret that the Wizards are thin when it comes to point guard depth, and last night was a perfect example. Trey Burke has yet to get into a groove in backing up Wall — he had three turnovers in six minutes of play against Toronto. When Burke entered the game, the Wizards were sitting with a 27-15 lead. Six minutes later, the Raptors cut the lead to one.
Burke also struggled in the opener against Atlanta, when there were comments from Wizards players that they couldn’t hear the sets that Burke uttered as he came down the court. As a result, the offense looked completely discombobulated with half the players running a play and the others just improvising.
As you look down the bench, the next guy who can fill in at point guard is Tomas Satoransky. His playing time was sparse in the first two games, and he only played 10 minutes against Toronto. While he did a better job than Burke, he still isn’t quite ready to be counted on to play 15-20 minutes a game yet.
In the weeks leading up to the regular season opener, the plan was not to put too much stress on Wall as he eased his way back from procedures done on both knees this summer. But with the evident lack of production behind him, it forces Brooks to play him around 40 minutes per game if they want to come away with the win.
Look, it’s four games into the season. There’s a chance that Burke starts to come around and find his niche in the role with his new team. But so far, it doesn’t look promising at all. The starters can’t be expected to log the type of minutes they did last night, or else they’ll be worn down by mid-December.
Brooks is still in a feeling out period in terms of getting the rotation right. There were some bright spots in mixing the reserves within the starters, but the lack of production at point guard other than Wall can’t be ignored, and if it continues, the Wizards will quickly find themselves in the deep depths of the Eastern Conference’s worst teams.