By Lewis Gould
The Wizards are 10-3 with the best record in the Eastern Conference.
It took them 27 attempts to win their 10th game last season.
They have surrounded star Bradley Beal with a group of proven role players:
Signing free-agent guard Spencer Dinwiddie (17 PPG, 6 APG) to a three-year, $54 million contract.
Trading Russell Westbrook to the Lakers for Kyle Kuzma (14.5 PPG, 8.2 RPG), Montrezl Harrell (18 PPG, 8.5 RPG), and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (10 PPG).
The four will make a total of $52.9 million this season — or roughly 39% of Washington’s $136.1 million payroll.
The offense might make the headlines, but Washington’s success rests on defense.
The Wizards are holding opponents to 42.4% FG, 9.4 3PM, and 30.7% 3PT — all best in the league. Their 102.7 defensive rating is the fourth-best, an improvement on last season’s 20th-ranked 112.3.
Last year, the Wizards (34-38) barely snuck into the playoffs after winning the play-in round, but now — with five straight wins, the new pieces clicking, and a potentially elite defense under new coach Wes Unseld Jr. — expectations just leveled up.