NBA Notebook: Beal's talent is being wasted in Washington
The NBA landscape continues to take shape and the cream is beginning to rise. The Milwaukee Bucks are only one game back of first place in the East, and the heavyweights from Los Angeles are battling for top position in the West.
Life in the Association isn’t all just about the presumptive favorites, however, so let’s take a look at some of the other notable stories from around the NBA this week.
The Nuggets are surging
The Denver Nuggets had a challenging start to the season. After losing Jerami Grant in the offseason, they looked ill-equipped to make another run at the Western Conference Finals in 2021 with their 3-5 start. They continued their middling ways on the path to 6-7, but have since rattled off five straight wins to get up to fourth in the conference.
That stretch includes a pair of high-scoring affairs against the Phoenix Suns, and impressive wins at Dallas and at Miami. Normally the Nuggets are toughest at home in the high altitude of Denver, but this road trip has been a welcome change of pace.
Their star and MVP-candidate, Nikola Jokic, has recorded a double-double in every single win, including a 29-point, 22-rebound night against Phoenix. The Nuggets will need continued development from their young players, but Denver is definitely trending in the right direction.
Beal's talent is being wasted in Washington
Bradley Beal now holds the unappealing streak of 10-straight games scoring 40-points or more in a loss. The Washington Wizards are very clearly one of the very worst teams in the league, and playing without a full roster after weeks of COVID-19 protocol inactivity doesn’t help.
Beal is an elite talent playing on a big contract, but his frustration is obvious and to be expected. Following his 47-point night in an 18-point loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, Beal was asked if he’s frustrated, to which he merely replied, "Is the sky blue?"
Look for Beal to continue to be a highly coveted trade piece for teams jockeying for position at the top of the league standings.
Look out for Christian Wood
The Houston Rockets were left for dead after parting ways with Russell Westbrook and James Harden, yet they’ve managed to win four straight. The reason behind their winning streak is a player that isn’t yet a household name (even in Shaq’s house): Christian Wood.
A 25-year-old undrafted center from UNLV, Wood is averaging 23.5 points and 10.8 rebounds per game on the season. He can handle the ball, navigate traffic, and overpower and outjump defenders near the rim. Wood is an exciting player who is blossoming into a star before our eyes.
Steph Curry passes Reggie Miller
Steph Curry has changed the game, and this past week he passed Reggie Miller to claim second place on the all-time three-pointers made list. Curry will now set his sights on Ray Allen, whom he is likely to catch in about a season in a half. Congrats to Curry on another amazing career accomplishment.
The Utah Jazz are hitting all the right notes
The Clippers and Lakers are the heavyweights in the West, but it's the Utah Jazz that have gone streaking to first place with 10-straight wins.
Led by dynamic young guard, Donovan Mitchell, the Jazz have an excellent combination of talent and veteran presence. They are also essentially the same team that has played together for years, which has made them incredibly efficient on offense and defense. Utah is fifth in the league in John Hollinger’s offensive efficiency rankings, and third in defensive efficiency rankings.
After a disappointing letdown in the playoffs last year to the Nuggets, the Jazz have the look of a hungry and driven challenger.