The 2020-21 Washington Wizards are no longer winless. In fact, a helpless defensive effort from their New Year’s Day opponents, the Minnesota Timberwolves, and an impressive shooting night from the Russell Westbrook-less Wizards led to the Wizards lighting up the scoreboard and lighting up one another with smiles aplenty.
Late in the 3rd quarter, the Wizards play by play guy and former NBA veteran Drew Gooden mentioned something that will definitely stick with me for the remainder of the season. Gooden said, as the camera panned to a smiling Bradley Beal after a missed and-1 opportunity, “playing basketball is supposed to be fun”. Immediately I thought, playing basketball is supposed to be fun except for… As such, this post lists the players who won’t be having much fun playing basketball this season. Let’s get started.
- Golden State Warriors PG: Stephen Curry
- Curry may be used to having fun on the court, shimmying and smiling as he and fellow Splash Brother Klay Thompson are typically raining down threes on helpless defenders across the league, but now, those threes will be coming down on Golden State. Even more, defenders will hound Steph relentlessly this season knowing there aren’t any safety valves for Golden State to turn to. The open shots that Curry’s movement and dribble penetration facilitates will be squandered as Andrew Wiggins misses open look after open look and Oubre Jr. does James Harden impersonations before missing his respective open looks. Speaking of Harden…
- Houston Rockets SG: James Harden
- Harden has had much individual success over the course of his career, playoff flameouts notwithstanding. But this season will be a doozy. He’s already been in COVID protocol and fined for his troubles and, oh yeah, HE DOESN’T WANT TO PLAY FOR THE ROCKETS. Regardless of whether or not the Rockets budge on his trade demands, Harden’s current predicament seems precarious as ever. Unsurprisingly, the Rockets rank 29th in opponent points per game yet Harden is scoring an NBA best 37 points per game. John Wall had a strong showing in his first game back from injury; though, if the Rockets are to be successful, Harden will have to do more than he’s ever done for a team he is playing to get traded from. Yikes.
- Chicago Bulls SG: Zach LaVine
- The Bulls may end up being better than they were last year, new head coach, Billy Donovan is surely hoping so, but they may also end up being worse. Division rivals Milwaukee and Indiana are set to be better and Detroit hopes Blake Griffin will be available the entire (shortened) season. Which brings me to star guard Zach LaVine. This season so far, the Bulls have lost when he was good (the 33 point outing against the Warriors). And lost when he was bad (the 16 and 17 point outings against the Bucks and Pacers respectively). He must be better more consistently surely, but how much fun will he have playing for another young, underachieving team this year? How soon does he think he’s Harden and wants out just the same?
- Washington Wizards PG: Russell Westbrook
- Which statement is more damning: Westbrook is a chronic, defensive drifter who tends to stat pad despite playing as hard as anyone or the Wizards are better without Westbrook? Either way, Westbrook may not be having as much fun as he’d like to this year. Both he and fellow Wizard star Beal have reportedly decided against speaking to the media after losses already. Westbrook is, unsurprisingly, averaging a triple-double but the team is winless in those games. The only thing stronger than Westbrook’s love for getting triple doubles is his hatred for losing. You think that’ll mean he’s going to be having fun?