2021-22 NBA Regular Season Observations: Wizards, Timberwolves, Jazz, Celtics

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Observations on teams in the East and West as the regular season draws to a close.

Washington collapse was really bad, should have at least gotten the #10 seed (last entry position)

The Wizards looked like an exciting and improved team in November when they started the season 10-4 (1st in the East). However, I never thought it would get so ugly. Washington is now 35-46 (12th in the East) and a lot has happened since its collapse with the two biggest starters being Bradley Beal injuring his left wrist and the locker room lack of continuity leading to trades (one is by Kristaps Porzingis). Beal’s downfall certainly made it harder to win games after January, but this club had a deep squad to start the year and just couldn’t get on the same page as a group. Personally, I think the biggest mistake this club made was not welcoming what Spencer Dinwiddie had to say in the dressing room. When his point guard doesn’t get the respect to express how he feels, he lets me know right there that this team had/has players with selfishness/dominance issues when it comes to what matters most, winning.

The Timberwolves made a good jump this year, but they must realize that next season will be much more difficult.

Minnesota jumped from the No. 13 seed to the No. 7 seed this season thanks to its Big 3 and head coach Chris Finch’s deep rotations. You have to give Finch the credit he deserves. We know Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell can fill him out, but this club started the season with a sub-.500 record and had to find a way to make everyone else fit in. That’s where Finch came in and added defensive-minded Patrick Beverley and Jarred Vanderbilt to the starting lineup, while also giving a group of bench players significant minutes. The team completed its first 40+ win season since 2017-18, but the real test begins next season. Teams that finished below the Timberwolves in this year’s standings, like the Clippers, Pelicans, Lakers and Trail Blazers, weren’t entirely healthy and should look very different in 2023.

Changes are likely for Utah with another playoff exit in the first or second round, just have to figure out who will leave.

Unlike last year, the Jazz are far from finishing in first place this season, and that may cause some pressure to finally make moves. Since the team drafted Donovan Mitchell in 2017, Utah hasn’t gotten past the second round and probably still won’t this postseason. You can definitely tell that the supporting cast that Utah had/still has/does make a difference, but they are not players that can take you to the top as two-way players at the age they are now. Rudy Gobert (turns 30 in June), Mike Conley Jr. (turns 35 in October), Jordan Clarkson (turns 30 in June), Bojan Bogdanovic (turns 33 this month), Royce O’Neale (turns 29 in June) and Hassan Whiteside (turns 33 in June) are getting older. Not to mention that Quin Snyder could also move to a different club. So moving the rest of the team besides Mitchell could be a possibility, but the Jazz superstar has also been through his share of trade rumors this season and is a name to watch this summer. Between training, the general roster and their superstar, Utah has some big decisions to make.

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown’s offense, the team’s defense, Robert Williams’ health and Marcus Smart’s play will be key for the Celtics in the playoffs.

The Boston Celtics were able to bounce back and make some shocking trades (Acquisition of Derrick White and Daniel Theis) at the deadline, resulting in some great basketball with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown leading the way. First of all, I think the biggest factor in the Celtics’ big turnaround has been Jayson Tatum’s improved shooting numbers (41.7% FG and 32.7% 3-PT in his first 40 games, 48 .9% FG and 37.1% 3-PT since then). Boston’s star duo scoring the ball efficiently on offense makes the team work as their team’s defense is already solid and other Celtics who aren’t very consistent scorers don’t have to take too many shots. Finally, the passes of Marcus Smart and the health of Robert Williams will be much needed in this postseason to provide base play and rim protection. Smart is averaging a career-high 5.9 APG and Williams (2.2 BPG) is yet to come back from his meniscus injury.

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