Dread not, Grizzlies faithful, for your beloved Beale Street Bears are returning to the hardwood. The All-Star break is over, and Memphis’ attention collectively shifts to the second half of the season. The week off for the Grizzlies allowed for Justise Winslow and Jaren Jackson Jr. to further recover from nagging injuries — the two are that much closer to full strength.
The Grizzlies’ first test comes in the form of the Washington Wizards, a red-hot team with a slew of impressive victories to bookend the first half of the season. I caught up with Becca Winkert of Wizards XTRA to learn more about Memphis’ adversary.
Where does the Bradley Beal-Russell Westbrook tandem in D.C. rank among the league’s top backcourts?
When the season first began, the best backcourts were considered to be the Suns, Blazers, Rockets, Celtics and Wizards. The backcourt that the Wizards have in Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal is arguably one of the top backcourts in the NBA. As far as I can tell, the only backcourt I can truly see ahead of them right now is the Suns (Devin Booker and Chris Paul) in regards to the Suns’ winning record.
Davis Bertans has seen his numbers dip across the board compared to the year prior. Do you believe he remains in the team’s long-term plans?
The Wizards just signed Davis Bertans to an $80 million dollar, five year deal over the summer. That being said, the Wizards plan to keep him on the team, being the sharpshooter that he is. If you want to address the reasoning for his recent struggles, that is due to the lack of training he had during the summer. The Wizards also had a COVID breakout among the team which resulted in prolonging his conditioning. The only way he will return to his numbers prior is to play through it, and that was said by Scott Brooks, his teammates and Davis himself.
On our latest @TripleWPod episode I speak on why Davis Bertans will not be able to sit on the bench. It’s not an easy pill to swallow but it is what it is. #DCAboveAll— Becca Winkert (@BeccaMVP) February 5, 2021
Watch the full episode here: https://t.co/n25gXhxXPF pic.twitter.com/KzUgR2H3Qw
Do you expect the Wizards to be buyers or sellers at the Trade Deadline?
I don’t anticipate the Wizards to be a buyer or seller. They seem to be content with working on the roster currently constructed.
How would you evaluate Rui Hachimura’s second go-around with the Wizards?
Rui Hachimura has been a lot more aggressive this season, and looks more comfortable now that he has had league experience. The fact that he is a contributor and playing meaningful minutes this season is a great sign. He’s been a factor in the team’s recent string of wins. Of course there are areas of improvement, such as finishing at the rim and some lapses on defense.
Does this Wizards team have a legitimate shot at sneaking into the postseason?
If the rest of the season is a reflection of the last eleven games, then absolutely. The Wizards have seemed to build the right chemistry and the players have more defined roles.