Any return to Washington Wizards basketball is an exciting one, considering all that it took to make it happen. After a nearly four month pause, the Wizards returned to action for the first time in a scrimmage against the Denver Nuggets, falling 89-82 in 10 minute quarters.
After much speculation over who Scott Brooks would choose as his starting lineup to return to play, he went with Shabazz Napier, Troy Brown Jr., Isaac Bonga, Rui Hachimura, and Thomas Bryant as his first unit. Brown Jr., who has normally seen time off the bench for the Wizards this season, is expected to have a much bigger role with Bradley Beal out. That became even more evident with him getting the nod in the starting lineup.
While the Wizards went with a more traditional starting lineup, the same could not be said for the Nuggets. Denver threw out an extremely interesting (and large) starting five, with Nikola Jokic actually getting the start at point guard.
The Wizards were led by Rui Hachimura and Troy Brown Jr., two guys that many expect to take over most of the offensive production with Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans opting out of the restart. Hachimura led the game off with the first bucket, and eventually ended the game as the Wizards’ leading scorer with 18 points and 9 rebounds.
Brown Jr. took over more of a Beal role, playing with the ball in his hands often. He made plays for himself and others, going for 12 points and 5 assists, while also bringing down 6 rebounds.
Scott Brooks has mentioned Brown Jr. as one of the guys that improved most since play paused, and we saw a glimpse of it today. He looked much slimmer, and quicker too. At just 20 years old, his development moving forward could be one of the most important stories for the Wizards organization. He will have ample opportunities to improve with added playing time, as well as starting experience.
Rui Hachimura is expected to be the number one option for the Wizards in the NBA restart, which cannot be said for many NBA rookies on their respective teams. With the exception of Ja Morant in Memphis, and Zion Williamson assuming he returns to the NBA bubble for New Orleans, no other rookies have the opportunity to get the playing time and the touches on offense like Rui does.
Rui took advantage of his opportunity as the first option, pouring in 18 points and 9 rebounds, scoring in a multitude of ways. He also hit a three-pointer, one of the things the Wizards coaching staff has been wanting to see from him most.
The Nuggets saw the first NBA minutes from Bol Bol, son of Manute Bol, and he impressed. The Wizards had an opportunity to take the son of their former center, as he slipped to the second round of the draft due to injury concerns after being a projected lottery pick by many. The Wizards instead opted to draft Admiral Schofield with their second round selection.
Bol Bol put up 16 points, 10 rebounds and an incredible 6 blocks to put a stamp on his NBA debut. He looked like his dad on the defensive end, but also showed the ability to handle the ball and hit ridiculous pull up shots.
On the other hand, the man the Wizards selected over Bol Bol did not have his best game. Admiral Schofield finished the game missing each of his shots, finishing with 0 points. He could never get into a rhythm in his first NBA action in a long time. With that said, its still way too early to compare one scrimmage of Bol Bol to Admiral Schofield, so I won’t give any crazy takes yet. I will say that Schofield was noticeably slimmer and leaner, which could help him get some playing time at both the 3 and 4 spots.
The Wizards will be back in action on Saturday with another scrimmage against the Los Angeles Clippers at 8 p.m. ET.