The Washington Wizards defeated the Houston Rockets on Monday night 131 to 119. Bradley Beal had 38 points on 14/24 shooting and Russell Westbrook had a triple-double with 16 points, 15 assists and 13 rebounds. It was an overall solid performance from the Wizards in Wall’s first game back at Capital One arena since he was traded to the Rockets for Westbrook and a first-round pick.
Wall had a solid game himself, netting a double-double with 29 points and 11 assists, and even though the Wizards came away with the win, it was all love between Beal and Wall. They shared a nice moment in the closing seconds of the game as well as in the immediate aftermath of the end of it.
Wall has been playing at a high level so far this season, and has proven the doubters who were sure his Achilles injury would sap his athleticism wrong. He is currently averaging 20 points and 6.2 assists per game. Not only has he looked like his usual explosive self, but he is shooting and making 3-pointers at a career high 35.9 percent on 5.7 attempts per game. It is not an exaggeration to say that Wall is still an All-Star caliber player.
On the other hand, Wizards guard Russell Westbrook, the other key component of the trade that sent Wall to Houston, is having his worst season in years. He is averaging under 20 points per game for the first time since his second season in the NBA and is shooting 40.9 percent from the field, the lowest mark of his career since his rookie season.
It is hard to say that either team definitively won this trade. On one hand, Wall has played extremely well in his new situation, but the Rockets are also currently in the midst of a six game losing streak and are on the outside looking into the postseason right now at 11-16. For the Wizards, Westbrook’s production is obviously disappointing and not what they expected when they acquired the All-NBA guard, but he is also being put into a difficult situation. Even if Wall was still with the Wizards, their personnel may have been too weak defensively for them to have legitimate postseason hopes this season.
In a postgame press conference following a 22-point loss to the Charlotte Hornets, Beal stated that he was frustrated with the lack of fight the Wizards have shown this season. It was something that Westbrook, a player known for his passion and energy, was supposed to provide for this team. His poor offensive play has made it difficult for him to fill what roll.
"We've gotta have some pride, man, some dog. We've got no dog. We just kind of let teams just walk all over us and that sh!t is frustrating."
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) February 8, 2021
Beal and Westbrook are definitely friends, and Beal expressed his admiration for Westbrook’s professionalism and commitment just a few days ago.
Bradley Beal on Russell Westbrook: "We have a guy who pushes us every night. Russ pushes me. He makes sure I’m ready to go. And I think that’s something I’ve definitely channeled this year."
— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) February 14, 2021
It was a nice sentiment expressed by Beal, and was certainly good to hear this coming from one star to another, but it does not change the fact that the duo of Westbrook and Beal has not been able to elevate this team enough this season. There is no way to ever know how things might have been different if Wall had been on the Wizards this season, but his strong play has made it hard not to speculate. Westbrook’s athleticism has purely declined this season, whereas Wall has looked like his usual self despite many thinking the opposite was true when the trade occurred. And while Beal has plenty of good things to say about Westbrook, it is obvious they do not share the same bond that Beal and Wall did during their time in Washington. There is something to be said about the intangible quality that stars having chemistry provides for a team. The Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James and Anthony Davis are great examples of this. Wall instead of Westbrook may not have made the Wizards a playoff team, but his All-NBA level defense, improved 3-point shooting and camaraderie with Beal would have been a concrete improvement over Westbrook’s play so far this season.
Wall and Beal will always be brothers and teammates. Wall recently detailed the phone call he had with Beal after he learned he had been traded, and described it as “emotional”, and said they were both crying. Watching them play together for seven years was a joy to behold for Wizards fans, and this season has been a stark reminder of what the team is missing. He will always be D.C.’s point guard, and he is sorely missed. #WallStar forever.
‘From our Haus to yours’