The Washington Wizards entered the 2020-21 NBA season with renewed optimism after trading John Wall to the Houston Rockets for Russell Westbrook. Bradley Beal was going to have a healthy star backcourt partner once again and it was supposed to be enough for a playoff spot.
At the beginning of the season, the Wizards flat out struggled and still are near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings as a result. Russell Westbrook made it clear that he had to battle through not being 100 percent.
“To start the year, I was debating, and it was a difficult spot for me honestly, because I don’t like to let my teammates down. I want to make sure that I’m available for them, even if I’m not 100 percent,” Westbrook said, via ESPN’s Royce Young. “And that’s just something I’ve always done. It’s probably not the best thing to do, but honestly as I’ve gotten older, I’ve had to stop. I’ve had to stop because I wasn’t able to explode and move the way I needed to.”
As of late, Russell Westbrook has felt much better and has noticed a difference in his explosion. He feels as though he’s been able to beat on-ball defenders off the dribble effectively and has been a positive contributor on both ends. It’s been a key factor in the Wizards’ four-game winning streak.
“Now I’m feeling a lot better. I’m able to move around and explode and get by people and make an impact on the game on both sides of the floor, and as the season goes along I’ll keep getting better. I’m not worried about that one bit.”
The Wizards’ last few wins have come against Western Conference playoff contenders, including the Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers. Westbrook struggled with his efficiency against the Nuggets but managed to chip in 27 points, 11 rebounds, and 13 assists against the Blazers.
It’s crucial that Russell Westbrook can continue to build on his recent play as they are finally starting make progress in the Eastern Conference standings. Despite Bradley Beal playing at the level of an NBA All-Star starter, Washington remains three games out of the eighth seed.
The Wizards will be up for another challenge when they continue their Western Conference road trip. Next up, are meetings with the Lakers, Clippers, and Nuggets before returning home.