The Wizards struggled through last season, leading to a teardown of the front office and talk about John Wall sitting out an entire season as he recovers from an Achilles injury. While Washington is trusting Scott Brooks to lead them to the future, he discussed this past year with The Crossover podcast and reflected on what went wrong.
Chris Mannix: So, you faced a completely different set of circumstances than last time when we sat here last year. You’re coming into a second year that you’re a second-round playoff team, you’re trying to build on that.
And then things kind of unravel largely in part because the injury to John Wall. You still fight your way into the playoffs that year, Tomáš Satoranský was great for you when John Wall down. But how would you describe last season for you? In total, everything that team went through?
Scott Brooks: Well, you know a couple of things. I look back to the last couple of months. First thing you look back, I didn’t do a good job. I could have done things different, and then I think we’ve had some unfortunate luck with injuries and that’s the part you hate but you don’t prepare for it. You can never prepare for John missing 40 games last season and 50 games this season. Now who knows if he even plays. He’s working his butt off to get back, but I wasn’t expecting all that. I figured, ‘OK, we had our bad injury year,’ but last year it was just from the start. It was tough and John was a big part of our team. We were really good when John was healthy.
But the bright side of it is Bradley Beal really stepped up and took his game on the court and in the locker room to another level. And going forward he’s going to have to do that with the group of young players that we have. But also, with all that being said, we never made excuses. Not one time, not one time did any of our players make excuses. We had a lot of injuries and if we didn’t have injuries we would be competing against the best teams in the East.
CM: You said Brad took his game to the level. We all saw that and how it played out on the floor, but what did you see from him in the aftermath of that John injury?
SB: He’s a big winner. And that guy, he competes, and he wants to do things properly. He puts in his time before and after practice, gives you great effort practice. And if you just keep piling up those type of work habits, you’re gonna have success. There’s no secret to it. I mean, some of these players I’ve been on teams with they think it’s easy. They think you just take this vitamin at night and you’re gonna be a good player. You’ve got to work every day and you can’t have off days. And Brad is like that. He’s taken his game to the next level.
Three years ago, when I took the job, I knew he could shoot. But he can score in every area of the floor, attack the basket, free throws, three points. And now I think the last year and a half he was able to facilitate and make his teammates better this year. I think there’s no limit. I think he can average eight or nine assists a game. I think those are numbers that are attainable, and I think he’s ready for that challenge.
CM: And then we don’t talk anymore about his injury history, either. I mean, right before you took the job that was a significant concern, like would his legs be able to hold up. It doesn’t seem to be a variable with him anymore.
SB: When I took the job, you hear all the rumblings. ‘Brad’s not tough enough. He’s had injuries, you’re going to have him for 50 to 60 games. John and Brad don’t get along.’ Those things that you hear about all the time. One of the things that I saw with Brad from the day one, he practices every day and he basically played every game for the last three years. I think he missed two games since my first year.
And then he wants to play. I mean, we were going nowhere at the end of the season pretty fast. And I’m like, ‘Brad, you know what, I appreciate everything you’ve given me the last couple of years. And this year we’re not making the playoffs, we’re out. You want to like chill out the last couple of weeks and rest? And he said, ‘You know what, I signed up to be the leader of this team and do it every night.’ And he wanted to do that, and he wanted to play every game and that’s why he played for two years in a row already too.