Buy or sell early-season trends from Russell Westbrook, Bradley Beal and the Wizards

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Mike DePrisco
·5 min read
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Buy or sell early-season trends from the Wizards originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

When it's this early in a season, anything that happens to a team -- good or bad -- is usually overreacted to in some form. The question is almost always the same for every development: Is it a fluke or for real?

The Wizards have already dealt with plenty of highs and lows to start the season, from an 0-5 start to Thomas Bryant's stellar play and a signature win over the Nets.

So, as Washington works to figure out whether it's closer to the version we've seen in 2021 rather than the winless version fans witnessed at the end of 2020, it's a good time to decide whether to buy or sell some of the small-sample size developments from this playoff-hopeful group.

Davis Bertans and Bradley Beal's struggles from three

The Wizards are on the brink of owning a top-10 offense in the NBA, and they've done so without their two best shooters finding the range from three to start the year. Beal is shooting 28.9% from three on 5.4 attempts per game and Davis Bertans is only hitting 32.7% of his looks from deep on 7.4 attempts per game. 

Bertans earned himself a five-year, $80 million contract thanks to his three-point shooting last season, where he shot 42.4% on insane volume (8.7 attempts/game). A work visa issue made him a late arrival to camp and he's yet to get his legs under him fully, so once he does it's probably a safe bet that he'll begin terrorizing defenses once again with his sharpshooting prowess. 

For Beal, early-season struggles from three aren't new to him. Last season, Beal shot 33.3% from three in October, 35.7% in November and 27.2% in December. He never wavered, and once he got going, his efficiency went through the roof. He made 35.1% of his threes in January, 36.5% in February and 48.3% in March before the season was suspended. 

Beal and Bertans are elite shooters, they're just taking a bit longer to warm up. 

Verdict: Sell

Russell Westbrook averaging a triple-double

Westbrook averaged a triple-double in each of his final three seasons in Oklahoma City, and after one season playing next to ball-dominant James Harden in Houston, he appears back on track to hit those averages once again with the Wizards.

Westbrook is averaging 20.6 points, 11.8 assists and 11.2 rebounds. He has the ball in his hands a ton, plays with plenty of shooting and scoring around him to rack up the assist numbers and has filled a void for the Wizards on the glass. 

There's no reason to think Westbrook can't average a triple-double for the fourth time, and he's certainly on track to do so. 

Verdict: Buy buy buy

Thomas Bryant's hyper-efficient offense

Thomas Bryant has been a major bright spot for the Wizards to start the season and has been the living embodiment of the benefits of playing alongside Westbrook as a big man. He's averaging 17.9 points, and 6.7 rebounds while shooting 66.7% from the floor and 50% from three. 

Bryant's growth as an offensive weapon is apparent and doesn't seem flukish at all. But to expect him to keep up those kinds of shooting numbers wouldn't be fair. Bryant's ability to score as a roller or on the pick and pop is an invaluable skill set next to Westbrook and Beal, and as he grows more comfortable playing with the star-studded backcourt, the Wizards would be wise to feature him more. 

Just don't be surprised if his shooting regresses just a little. The shooting numbers he's putting up right now are more comparable to what your MyPlayer in NBA 2K would do, though. 

Verdict: Sell

Deni Avdija's all-around impact

Deni Avdija's impact can't always be measured by your traditional counting stats, and that's not a bad thing for a player so early in his development. His ability to defend at a high level across multiple positions, act as a secondary playmaker next to Beal and Westbrook and knock down spot-up threes has made him an integral part of the Wizards' success right away. 

Per Cleaning the Glass, the Wizards are 23.3 points per 100 possessions better with Avdija on the court than when he's off, which is by far the best mark on the team. Behind him are Bryant (+13.6) and Beal (+9.9). 

It'd be unfair to expect Avdija to come away unscathed from the trials and tribulations of a rookie season in the NBA. At some point, he's going to hit the rookie wall, as few have been exempt from it. But as the game slows down for him and he continues to do the little things that help his team win, it wouldn't be crazy to expect Avdija to remain toward the top of his team in this significant metric. 

Verdict: Buy

Tune in at 6 PM to NBC Sports Washington on Wednesday for complete coverage of the Wizards' next game against the Philadelphia 76ers. 

OddsMoney LinePoint SpreadTotal Points
Washington
+110+1.5-
Houston
-134-1.5-