WASHINGTON WIZARDS (2-0)
at LOS ANGELES LAKERS (1-2)
Tip-off: Wednesday, 10:30 p.m. ET
Line: N/A, Total: N/A
Will John Wall try to give Lonzo Ball the Patrick Beverley treatment when the Wizards face the Lakers in Los Angeles on Wednesday?Lakers fans who entered the season excited for their team to be significantly more watchable than last year should be happy through three games. Those who had the unreasonable expectations of cheering for a good basketball team have been a little more disappointed. Los Angeles is 1-2 SU and 1-2 ATS, with their lone win coming against a Suns team that has been historically miserable in the early going this year. But the youth movement is fully underway in Staples Center, and rookie PG Lonzo Ball has given the Lakers faithful good cause for optimism with his performances. Ball will welcome one of the best point guards in the NBA to town on Wednesday night, as John Wall and the Wizards enter their second game of a four-game Western Conference road trip. The Wiz stayed undefeated in the first game of the trip, beating Denver 109-104 on Monday (WAS +5) to move to 3-0 (1-2 ATS).
It seems like with each passing season, Wall receives more and more of the recognition he deserves as one of the NBA's superstars. Through three games this year, he has very much lived up to that reputation, although he is yet to have a perfect game. His high for points was 28 in the opener against Philadelphia, but he got it on 10-of-28 shooting. He had 26 points on only 12 shots against Detroit, but turned the ball over eight times. And most recently against Denver, he scored 19 points on 3-of-13 shooting. He's had at least eight assists in each game, though, and has shot at least nine free throws in each game, as well. He's averaging 11.7 FTA (and shooting 85.7% from the line), up significantly from his career average of 5.5. SG Bradley Beal, the Robin to Wall's Batman, had a breakthrough season in 2016-17 and had stayed at that high level early on this year. He's averaging 23.3 PPG, and despite not starting hot from three (25%) is shooting 44.2% from the floor. SF Otto Porter was fourth among NBA small forwards last year with a 51.6% field goal percentage, and he's ninth this year at 51.2%. While other players' percentages will fade, Porter has proven he can sustain that level of accuracy over long stretches. He's also been a rebounding machine at 9.0 RPG.
Surely you've heard by now about how Ball was shut down in the opener by opposing point guard Patrick Beverley, as he was limited to three points in his career debut. Plenty of guards will be coming at Lonzo this year, but few will be as fierce as Beverley. In his next game, Ball exploded for a near triple-double with 29 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists against Phoenix. Most recently, he put up a 8-8-13 line against New Orleans. He'll have big scoring games, but expect most of his lines this year to be the Rondo-like numbers he put up against the Pelicans. After missing the first two games of the year due to suspension, newly acquired SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope tied for the team lead in scoring with 20 points against New Orleans. PF Kyle Kuzma matched him with 20 off the bench. The rookie out of Utah has thus far lived up to the high expectations he quickly built for himself in Summer League and the preseason. C Brook Lopez is largely the same player he was in Brooklyn, although it seems Luke Walton has convinced him to shoot a few fewer threes (4.3 3PA, down from 5.2 last year) and grab a few more rebounds (7.7 RPG, up from 5.4). It's a small sample size, though—there's plenty of time left for Brook to fully retreat to the perimeter.