Mark R. Bacon—Main Event Sports DC
The NBA Pre-Season Rankings Reverse Jinx lives! The Wiz—dead last in that annual rankings crap shoot—are kinda … fun? They are especially so with Rui Hachimura and Davis Bertans—The Latvian Laser—manning the forward spots. (This kind of look, pairing two tweeners who lean more toward the nominal power forward designation, seems to be en vogue this season.)
Hachimura is a whirling dervish who is somehow both chaotic and balanced at once. He can overpower wings in the post, and he looks comfy stepping into old-school long 2s. Those are unsexy shots, but they bode well for Hachimura stretching to 3-point range. Rui shown all the athleticism and versatility that he was praised for leading up to the draft, and his jumper looks much improved from college.
While you were watching the World Series finale Wednesday night, Washington and Houston played a bonkers NBA game. This offensive bonanza was the equivalent of a pickup game on steroids. Watching the game caused emotional stress. There was one play against the Houston Rockets, where Hachimura got the ball at the top of the key with James Harden guarding him. OK, Harden isn’t the greatest defender, however, for a rookie it was still impressive to see Hachimura fake out Harden with the pump fake, go up and under for the baby floater. He missed, but then followed his shot off the back of the rim to get the bucket.
Bertans is one of the best shooters alive, and Scott Brooks is running nifty tandem set pieces for Bertans and Moritz Wagner. (I can’t believe that sentence is a true thing.) This double pick has been killing teams, since both Bertans and Wagner are threats to chuck. Overplay the Bertans curl and he’ll bust it to the rim.
The Wizards have scored 126 points per 100 possessions (not a typo!) with Hachimura and Bertans on the floor, though their 159-158 game of NBA Jam against Houston on Wednesday inflated those numbers. (Warning: Don’t look up the defensive figure; your mobile device might combust.)
Washington isn’t good, but they’re very feisty and awfully entertaining.