WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – There are plenty of unexpected things taking place with the Wizards, as they jumped a game above .500 for the first time since 2009 with a win against the Blazers Monday night.
When a young team begins to show signs it’s taking that next step – and success begins to manifest through wins for a team which hasn’t made the playoffs in six seasons – it may be difficult for fans to identify these little positive changes occurring.
Like for instance, when 10-year veteran Trevor Ariza steps up and tells All-Star point guard John Wall he wants to be the one to guard Damian Lillard, the Blazers’ top scorer, in the crucial final minutes of the game.
“Last night I told John that I wanted to guard him these last five minutes of the game,” Ariza told 106.7 The Fan’s Grant and Danny on Tuesday. “Just to give ‘em a different look, just to change it up a little bit, let John go play the passing lanes a little more, because he was real active in the passing lanes.”
Although Wall is putting up career numbers in his fourth season, Ariza is actually putting up career numbers — highest shooting percentage from beyond the arc (.394 percent) and second highest points total (14.3 points per game) – as well.
One change which may not be so subtle with these Wizards, is the emergence of second-year guard Bradley Beal, who’s besting his rookie season in points per game, three-point percentage, free throw percentage and assists.
Ariza has high hopes for Beal, who he strongly believes has the potential to become a 20,000-point scorer in the NBA.
“I just feel like he can score any time he touches the ball,” Ariza said. “He works hard on his game, he works on his body — he has little problems with his lower body, but he works hard on that – he’s always in the gym, always trying to get better.”
“I look at Brad, I think he can easily get 20,000 points in this league,” he said. “Without a doubt. He’s gonna be a very good scorer in this league.”
To give you some perspective of what that means, retired players to have scored 20,000 points range from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Adrian Dantley, with the list of active players to pass the threshold including names like Ray Allen and LeBron James.